Creativity at Clayman Empowers Women

Established in 1974, the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research generates innovative scholarship that seeks to implement social change and advance gender equality.  The Clayman Institute invites Stanford faculty, guest and postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students to participate in lectures, symposia, and workshops on gender-related topics while working on their own independent projects.  The Institute has sponsored numerous arts events in film, visual arts, creative writing, journalism, and dance.  In the words of Associate Director Lori Mackenzie, “the Arts Initiative at the Clayman Institute fulfills one of our most important strategies – to empower the voices and leadership of women. Women artists – and art illuminating important gender conversations – receive top billing at the Institute. Our loyal and engaged audience is evidence that a place such as ours is a welcome addition to the Stanford arts scene.”

In 2012, the Institute co-organized a screening of Art and Art History Department faculty member and documentary filmmaker Jan Krawitz as part of a quarter-long symposium, “Ms. at 40 and the Future of Feminism,” which featured a keynote address by Gloria Steinem.  Krawitz’s film Mirror Mirror explores women’s struggle with body image, whereas In Harm’s Way presents a sobering exposition on sexual assault.  Valerie Miner, the Institute’s current Artist-in-Residence, leader of its Arts Initiative, English Department and Feminist Studies faculty member, and novelist, offers workshops on narrative strategies to help empower female voices.  The ongoing program, “Art at the Institute,” exhibits the work of artists that are in conversation with critical theory and contemporary discourses about gender.  The objects on display (viewed by invitation only) include paintings, photography, computer manipulated images, weaving, prints, and mixed media.  For the screening of the 2009 film Blessings: The Tsoknyi Nangchen Nuns of Tibet, the Clayman Institute invited filmmaker Victress Hitchcock and the renowned Buddhist Lama Tsoknyi Rinpoche III for a post-screening discussion.  In spite of any anti-feminist social realities in Tibet, this film highlights how a community of religious women challenged patriarchal dominance and persevered amid periods of revolution and destruction.

Blessings: The Tsoknyi Nuns of Tibet, a 2010 documentary film by Victress Hitchcock


The Clayman Institute continues its examination of gender via the arts in January of 2013 with an Artist Salon featuring Bay Area dancer and choreographer Robert Moses, founder and director of the dance company Robert Moses’ Kin.  Moses will expound upon his new choreographic opus, NEVABAWARLDAPECE, which explores liberation movements, insurrections, and revolts within particular moments of America’s history.  To realize his vision, Moses collaborated with several artists: writer Carl Hancock Rux, folk musician Laura Love, composer Corey Harris, and Stanford faculty member and visual designer Elaine Buckholtz.  Laura Love will appear alongside with Moses at the Institute to discuss the struggles inherent to female artists.

Clayman with Londa Schiebinger and Myra Strober

Londa Shiebinger, Michelle R. Clayman, and Myra Strober cut into the Clayman Institute’s 35th anniversary cake, 2009

Bios: Michelle R. Clayman – Stanford alumna (M.B.A., 1979).  Concurrent with her work for New Amsterdam Partners, a New York-based money management firm that she founded, Clayman acts as Chair of the Advisory Council of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research.  In 2008, she was the first woman to win the Stanford Graduate School of Business Excellence in Leadership Award.  Clayman’s interest in Women’s Studies led to the establishment of Stanford’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research in 1974.  The Institute hosts Stanford affiliates, guest scholars, and artists who contribute to the study of gender in proactive and creative ways.

Valerie Miner

Valerie Miner – Clayman Institute Artist-in-Residence, Consulting Professor, Department of English, and novelist.  Miner is an award-winning author of thirteen books, including After Eden, Range of Light, A Walking Fire, Winter’s Edge, Blood Sisters, All Good Women, Movement: A Novel in Stories, and Murder in the English Department.

Featured image: Feminist icon Gloria Steinem after delivering a keynote address as the “Ms. at 40” symposium, January 2012.  Photograph by Linda A. Cicero / Stanford University News Service