Shirley Kassman

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Shirley Ann (née Soldwedel) Kassman (American, 1929-1991) Nationally recognized Western New York artist, printmaker, teacher, feminist and activist for women's rights was born on July 29, 1929 in Hamburg, NY to Frank E. Soldwedel (1890-1953) and Anna R. (née Young) Soldwedel (c1906-) and she had two sisters to include, Gladys E. Soldwedel-Enser (1919-2010) and Sharon L. "Shar" Soldwedel-Gilman (1945-    ), as well as a brother, Frank E. Soldwedel, Jr. (1932-2013).

During the 1970s and 1980s, Shirley Kassman used color, texture, and composition to express what it meant to be a woman and an artist. From a feminist perspective, she challenged prevailing notions of women’s art being inferior to men’s art.  While questioning whether or not there was a distinctive “female iconography” or “female style,” she, like Judy Chicago, created sexually symbolic works to represent power politics.

Kassman was a professor of design and acting chairperson (1982-83) at the State University College at Buffalo. She served as president of the Buffalo Society of Artists in 1978. She was notably a founding member of Buffalo State’s Woman’s Studies Academy and also the WNY Women’s Art Registry. Shirley married Buffalo Attorney, George N. Kassman (1925-1997) on June 28, 1952 and they had a daughter, Buffalo attorney, Tracey A. Kassman (1958-    ). She exhibited regularly and won many awards for her work. She died on September 7, 1991 at the age of 62 from breast cancer in Buffalo, NY.

(Source: familysearch.org, "United States Census, 1940" and the "United States Social Security Death Index"; burchfieldpenney.org, Burchfield Penney Art Museum, "Shirley Kassman (1929-1991)"; buffalorising, online article, "Shirley Kassman: A Buffalo Feminist", by Courtney Bajdas, Feb. 8, 2022)

 

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