Dr. Ferrell Publishes Book on Creative Exchange Around Jay DeFeo’s Painting

By Daniel DiPrinzio | March 7, 2022
Book cover of About the Rose featuring the title and a woman in black and white with organic, abstract imagery behind her

Dr. Elizabeth Ferrell, associate professor of Art History at Arcadia University, has published the book The Rose: Creation and Community in Jay DeFeo’s Circle (Yale University Press). A video introduction to the book is available here
A description on the Yale University Press website calls the work “a remarkable portrait of a web of artistic connections, traced outward from Jay DeFeo’s uniquely generative work of art”: 
“Through deep archival research and nuanced analysis, Elizabeth Ferrell examines the creative exchange that developed with and around The Rose, a monumental painting on which the San Francisco artist Jay DeFeo (1929–1989) worked almost exclusively from 1958 to 1966. From its early state to its dramatic removal from DeFeo’s studio, the painting was a locus of activity among Fillmore District artists. Wallace Berman, Bruce Conner, Wally Hedrick, and Michael McClure each took up The Rose in their photographs, films, paintings, and poetry, which DeFeo then built upon in turn. The resulting works established a dialogue between artists rather than seamless cooperation. Illustrated with archival photographs and personal correspondence, in addition to the artworks, Ferrell’s book traces how The Rose became a stage for experimentation with authorship and community, defying traditional definitions of collaboration and creating alternatives to Cold War America’s political and artistic binaries.”
Dr. Ferrell joined Arcadia in 2015. She was trained in modern and contemporary art, with a special focus on postwar America, at Grinnell College and the University of California Berkeley, where she received her Ph.D. in 2012. She teaches courses on art since the 18th century.