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Christina Schlesinger (born November 19, 1946)[1][2] is an American painter and muralist who currently lives and works in East Hampton. Schlesinger is known for her part in founding the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) in 1976.[3][4] Her art ranges from realistic to abstract. She uses many different media to create her work.

Christina Schlesinger
Born (1946-11-19) November 19, 1946 (age 72)
Washington, D.C., United States
EducationRadcliffe College
Rutgers University
Known forPainting and mural creation
Parent(s)Arthur Schlesinger, Jr
Marian Cannon Schlesinger


Life and careerEdit

Schlesinger is the daughter of the famous historian, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr[5] and artist Marian Cannon Schlesinger.[6] Schlesinger grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[7] She had two brothers, one sister, and several half-siblings.[8] She was the middle child.[6] Schlesinger's mother could paint and made portraits of her children.[6]

Schlesinger always considered herself a tomboy and recalls that she and her mother argued about her wearing dresses.[9] Instead, she wanted to do things which were considered traditionally male at the time.[9]

Schlesinger attended Radcliffe College and was an English and Fine Arts major, graduating cum laude in 1968.[10] She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture during the summer of 1968.[10] After Schlesinger finished school, she started to create "protest art."[6] Her mother and father were divorced in 1970.[8] The divorce created a desire in Schlesinger to "get away" and she also wanted to prove that she was more than a famous name and she had her own things to say.[6]

In 1971, Schlesinger moved to Los Angeles.[6] Schlesinger came out as a transgender in Venice, California and found the Chicano community to be supportive of her.[11] Schlesinger met artist, Judy Baca, at a feminist workshop with Judy Chicago.[12] The two artists collaborated on a mural in Venice. In 1976, she and Baca and filmmaker Donna Deitch, co-founded SPARC.[13] Schlesinger was instrumental in coming up with the name of the center.[13] Schlesinger remains proud of her part in SPARC and its commitment to public art that uncovers hidden parts of history and lends a political and social consciousness to art.[14] She was also part of the team of artists who helped design The Great Wall of Los Angeles.[15]

Schlesinger moved back to New York in the 1980s, where she quickly started showing her work.[6] In the early 1990s, Schlesinger became part of the Guerrilla Girls.[6] Each artist in the Guerrilla Girls chooses to remain anonymous and go by an artist's name. Schlesinger chose the name Romaine Brooks.[11]

Schlesinger received an MFA from Rutgers in 1994.[10]

Schlesinger was an art teacher at the Ross School,[16] where she worked from 1996 until 2005.[6] During this time, she adopted a daughter, Chun, from China.[10]

In 2001, she moved to East Hampton and later built a studio there.[7]

In 2008, Schlesinger was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.[10] The treatment and complications from the cancer kept her from painting for two years.[10] Schlesinger was sometimes too depressed and tired to work on art.[6] After her recovery, Schlesinger continues to work, teach and show her art in different venues.[10]


In the 1990s Schlesinger created "explicitly erotic work."[11] During the 1990s, it was very taboo for lesbians to bring up issues of security, and many felt as if they were "forced into hiding."[17] Schlesinger boldly depicted lesbians (including portraits of herself) wearing dildos and penetrating other women.[17] Schlesinger was interested in "representing female masculinity" and "refuting the notion that the artist's erotic gaze is exclusively male."[11] Her work was also very much about embracing and celebrating her sexuality.[17] These paintings and etchings of a very erotic nature were considered gutsy and groundbreaking, and many of them were not shown again until 2014.[17]

Marc Chagall Comes to Venice Beach (1991) is a large mural in painted on the Israel Levin Senior Adult Center in Venice, California. The mural celebrates Jewish and Easter European contributions to Los Angeles.[18] In 1994, the building was destroyed in the Northridge earthquake.[19] Later, the senior center was rebuilt, and Schlesinger went back to Los Angeles to redo the mural with several local Venice artists assisting her.[20] The mural was redone in 1996.[19]

Schlesinger's landscapes are often seen as much more neutral in their representations. The Long Good-Bye is a "harmonious" painting, which depicts two trees in the moonlight.[21]

Over time, Schlesinger has moved from creating representational work to colorful abstractions.[22]

Some of her artistic influences include Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, photographer BrassaÏ, Miriam Schapiro, and Sigmar Polke.[11]


"The tomboy is the lesbian's inner core, her secret weapon."[23]


  1. ^ Staff (2017-07-10). "City Wide Mural Program – Chagall Returns to Venice Beach". Social and Public Art Resource Center. Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  2. ^ Staff (2017-07-10). "Radcliffe College - Yearbook (Cambridge, MA), Class of 1968, Page 387". Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  3. ^ "Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles". Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  4. ^ Martinez, Yoli (4 October 2012). "Iconic Hispanic Angelenos in History: Judy Baca". KCET. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  5. ^ "Christina Schlesinger". C-Span. 23 April 2007. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Brown, Susan Rand (2012). "Looking for that Tomboy Spirit: A Conversation with Christina Schlesinger" (PDF). Provincetown Arts. 27: 67–69. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Romany Kramoris Gallery Presents Christina Schlesinger". 30 July 2008. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  8. ^ a b Martin, Douglas (1 March 2007). "Arthur Schlesinger, Historian of Power, Dies at 89". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  9. ^ a b Schlesinger, Christina (2014). All True Tomboys (PDF). Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Schlesinger, Christina. "Narrative Resume". Christina Schlesinger. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  11. ^ a b c d e Langer, Cassandra (2015). "Filling the Void in Lesbian Art". Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide. 22 (2): 20–23. ISSN 1532-1118. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  12. ^ Hershman, Lynn (2 October 1992). "Transcript of Interview with Judith Baca". Stanford University Digital Collections. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  13. ^ a b Wasson, Julia; Weiss, Cathy (28 July 2014). "Learning Los Angeles: Debra Padilla, Arts and Activism". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  14. ^ "SPARC's 35th Year Anniversary". SPARC Murals. YouTube. 23 December 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  15. ^ Tannenbaum, Barbara (26 May 2002). "Where Miles of Murals Preach a People's Gospel" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  16. ^ McCall, Debra (2010). "Choreographing the Curriculum: The Founder's Influence as Artist, Visionary and Humanitarian". In Suarez-Orozco, Marcelo M.; Sattin-Bajaj, Carolyn (eds.). Educating the Whole Child for the Whole World: The Ross School Model and Education for the Global Era. New York: New York University Press. p. 142. ISBN 9780814741405.
  17. ^ a b c d Langer, Sandra (2014). "All True Tomboys: The Art of Christina Schlesinger" (PDF). The Journal of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. 52: 10–11. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  18. ^ Venice Self Guided Walking Tour of Murals and Public Art (PDF). Venice, California: Venice Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  19. ^ a b Pavlik, Alan M. (18 July 2007). "Chagall in Odd Places". Just Above Sunset Photography. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  20. ^ "Jewish Venice: The Israel Levin Center". Venice Beach Walking Tours. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  21. ^ Moritz, Suzanne Petren (15 February 1991). "Lesbian Art for a Change". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  22. ^ "Christina Schlesinger". Gallery Ehva. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  23. ^ "All True Tomboys". Feminine Moments: Fine Art Made by Lesbian, Bisexual & Queer Women Artists Worldwide. 2 January 2015. Retrieved 21 April 2015.

External linksEdit