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Gaza Bowen Papers
MS 293  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Separated Material
  • Additional collection guides

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Gaza Bowen papers
    Dates: 1980-2008
    Collection number: MS 293
    Creator: Bowen, Gaza
    Collection Size: 6 half cartons; 3 cartons; 3 flat slide boxes; 3 flats(16x20); 39 oversize objects

    25 linear ft.
    Repository: University of California, Santa Cruz. University Library. Special Collections and Archives
    Santa Cruz, California 95064
    Abstract: This collection includes files, notebooks and slides as well as artist's books and installation pieces from "Biblioteca Memoria".
    Physical location: Stored in Special Collections & Archives: Advance notice is required for access to the papers.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    Collection open for research.

    Access Restrictions

    Some of the oversize objects are not available for research because of their size, weight and condition.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to publish or to reproduce the material, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    Gaza Bowen papers. MS 293. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Dennis Wheeler in 2002, 2006, 2009.


    Gaza Bowen (1944-2005) was an internationally known sculptor who exhibited extensively since 1978. In the broadest sense her work was an inquiry into the non-verbal communication between people and objects.
    For nearly twenty years she focused her attention on shoes: their construction, history, cultural meaning, and social significance. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, she made functional shoes that sported vibrant colors and unusual patterns. Then she explored shoes as sculptures. Her work has been featured in museums from Berkeley to Los Angeles to Germany. Perhaps her best-known series, "Shoes for the Little Woman," was a group of shoe sculptures created mostly from cleaning supplies: elaborate high heels constructed from kitchen sponges or wooden clothespins, sometimes decorated with pot scrubbers.
    In 1995, supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council, Gaza stepped away from the shoe idiom and began exploring the relationship between the personal and the political, building mixed media sculptures based on childhood memories.
    From 1997 to 1999 she continued her investigation into how the history of use becomes indelibly etched into the fiber of matter and how those traces of memory evoke meaning in the viewer. This work culminated in "Bibliotheca Memoria", a library/reading room installation of books and furniture built from salvaged materials.
    Her use of detritus as art material led her to an artist-in-residency at the San Francisco dump in 2000. Her final project from this four month residency was the "Waste Not/What Not Catalog". She also produced many artist’s books including "Red Shoe Reader" and "The Secret Game".
    Gaza Bowen's work is included in many private and public collections including Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Oakland Museum, and The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; The Getty Center for Art and the Humanities and The Norton Family Foundation, Santa Monica, California; Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia and Duetsches Schuhmuseum, Offenbach am Main, Germany.
    Excerpted from Gaza Bowen, Artist, Biography at gazabowen.com & SF Gate obituary, 6/11/2005, by Kelly Hill, Chronicle Staff Writer.
    A resume of Gaza Bowen's work can be found under "Additional Guides" to this finding aid.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection includes files, notebooks and slides as well as artist's books and installation pieces from "Biblioteca Memoria".
    Many of the objects were fabricated from material from the San Francisco Land Fill and are rusty and sharp edged. Handle with care!

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Bowen, Gaza--Archives
    Artists--California--Santa Cruz County
    Installations (Art)

    Separated Material

    These items have been cataloged separately.
    • Red shoe reader , [Gaza Bowen, compiler]
    • Waste not/what not catalog : new paradigm products, [designed, photographed, written by Gaza Bowen]

    Additional collection guides