The Woman's Building & Pam Ward

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The Woman's Building & Pam Ward



Pam Ward


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I can't tell you how much working for the WB changed my life. I was able to start my own graphic design business and was published for the first time in "Women for all Seasons," a WB publication where I was given the great opportunity to illustrate and design the cover art.

The WB was an exciting place to work, create and learn. I enjoyed the shows, the classes and the salons and especially enjoyed Terry Wolverton's R&B workout class held after hours. Every time I hear the song "Hold On, I'm Comin'" I smile remembering the stretching routine Terry (a Motown girl) showed us. I was pregnant then and my body loved it. So did my baby, Mari, (named after a WB artist) who was allowed to sit behind my desk while I worked. Mari even performed in a Cheri Gaulke film when she was six months old and Cheri bathed her feet in milk. There were many times when I worked on the computer with Mari in my lap. Talk about job benefits! You can't beat that with a stick! The place was literary a sounding ground for mind body and soul and I meet great women like Heather Haley, a poet, singer and writer and Linda Huggins who encouraged me to write down the crazy stories I told in the kitchen.

The WB shaped me as a writer, a designer, and a soldier for women's art. I started my career there as a manager of the Women's Graphic Center, the profit making arm to the Women's Building. Hired at 24, I managed designers in their 30's and used to wear vintage apparel and my hair in a bun to antiquate my age. It was there I worked with Sue Mayberry and Linda Nishio and other great artists like Anne Gauldin and Mary Marchuka. We also hired young girls from Otis and Cal Arts or Occidental as interns and I learned just as much from them as the staff.

Years later, when I designed / edited the anthology of black women writers entitled, "The Supergirls Handbook," I was greatly influenced by two WB divas, Michelle T. Clinton and Wanda Coleman, who both gratefully gave me poems and who I only knew through working at the WB facility.

As a graphic design instructor at Art Center College of Design, I discussed Sheila de Briteville's work, who I was lucky enough to met at the WGC and whose understanding and elegance of type was daringly female and beyond compare. Having a strong woman's perspective lead to my search for other "chick" designers and I learned that the Nike logo, one of the most recognized in the world, was created by Carolyn Davidson, a Portland State graphic design student for a mere $32 bucks. (she later received a nice stock option)

Blending design with words, I tore a sheet from the WB handbook and created "What The Body Remembers" pairing writers from Leimert Park with L.A. painters, photographers and collage artists. I would never have thought to take on something like that if I had not seen it done first at the WB through the "Cross pollination" project.

No other work environment has ever matched the WB's phychedelic dimensions nor has any other facility had such a tremendous impact on my evolution as an artist. From the letterpress machine in the back to the drafting tables in the middle and the gray floor gallery up front, we lived and breathed art every day of the damn week, where anyone might walk in including Anais Nin's husband or the glorious Judy Chicago. Feminist, smart and hip, it rocket-shipped my world view as an artist and flamed my tender and eager skin. Like a virgin, I will never forget it.

Pam Ward
writer / designer



Pam Ward, "The Woman's Building & Pam Ward," in Woman's Building: Doin' It in Public, Item #61, (accessed June 21, 2018).

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