Now Exhibitions

Sharing Circles: Carol Newhouse and the WomanShare Collective

Interior view of a circular enclosure made of plywood, with photographs hung on the interior panels and a wooden chair placed next to a white column.

In her first museum exhibition, photographer Carol Newhouse chronicles the joys and hardships of the Women’s Land movement.

Sharing Circles surveys the world-changing impact of 1970s feminism through Newhouse’s work, which documents the creation of WomanShare—a queer feminist, land-based community in rural Oregon. Cofounded in 1974 by Newhouse, her then lover Billie Miracle, and her best friend Dian Wagner, WomanShare joined a cluster of lesbian collectives located along Interstate 5, a major corridor of the LGBTQIA+ movement on the West Coast.

WomanShare was more than just a home to its residents. As an experiment in communal ownership, group decision-making, and liberated sexuality, it offered refuge and release from patriarchal society while requiring mutual vulnerability and trust from its members. Gathering Newhouse’s creative work alongside that of her peers, Sharing Circles explores the complexities of communal life and the practices that sustained the collective over the decades—in particular, the sharing circle, a method of group mediation that encourages empathy, active listening, and nonhierarchical participation. Dispelling the myth of separatist isolation, this presentation affords an intimate view of the networks that continue to shape and interlink the Women’s Lands, not only in Oregon, but across rural America.

Cocurated by artist and Ohio State professor Carmen Winant and Wexner Center Associate Curator Daniel Marcus along with Curatorial Research Assistant Raechel Root and Graduate Curatorial Intern Arielle Irizarry, Sharing Circles presents over 150 photographs alongside Newhouse’s contact sheets, slides, and ephemera. The exhibition also features artworks by other members of the WomanShare community, including Billie Miracle and current residents Bianca Fox Del Mar Ballara and Lycan El Lobo Coss, who are working with Newhouse and Miracle to transfer the land into the stewardship of queer BIPOC women and Two-Spirit people, renaming it NativeWomanshare.

Please note: This exhibition contains nudity and work dealing with sexuality.

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Scrapbook page with a colorized photograph of two women standing in front of a car. A colorful, handwritten caption below the photo reads: “here I am in my outfit. Overalls, boots, and scarf. the bar in my hand is a dibble bar. you push it in the ground and then plant a tree in the hole it makes. the bag on my waist is for trees.”

Carol Newhouse, page from a scrapbook for Carol's grandmother, 1974. Mixed media. Image courtesy of the artist.

 Exterior view of a circular enclosure made of plywood, with photographs hung on the interior panels.

Sharing Circles: Carol Newhouse and the WomanShare Collective, installation view at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

Interior view of a circular enclosure made of plywood, with photographs hung on the interior panels and a wooden chair placed next to a white column.

Sharing Circles: Carol Newhouse and the WomanShare Collective, installation view at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

Two black-and-white photographs hung on plywood panels. The photograph at left shows three women working on a building site, where they are framing a circular structure. The photograph at right shows the completed structure, a dome home with a round skylight.

Sharing Circles: Carol Newhouse and the WomanShare Collective, installation view at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

Low-angle view of several women working together to construct a wooden cabin in a field with tall, green pines in the background

Carol Newhouse, Untitled, ca. 1975–80. Color photograph. Image courtesy of the artist.

Black-and-white photograph of a woman using a hammer to fasten studs to the frame of a cabin

Carol Newhouse, Billie framing Rattlesnake cabin, ca. 1976. Gelatin silver print. Image courtesy of the artist.

Black-and-white line drawing, viewed from above, of wooden cabins, a garden, trees, and mountains.

Billie Miracle, Bird's-eye view of WomanShare, 1983. Ink on paper. Image courtesy of the artist.

More about the artist

Carol Newhouse chevron-down chevron-up

Carol Newhouse (b. 1943) is a cofounder of the WomanShare Collective and a key contributor to the lesbian photography movement of the 1970s and 80s. Her photographs have been published in Amazon Quarterly, Blatant Image, WomanSpirit, and The Woman’s Carpentry Book (Doubleday, 1980), among other periodicals of the women’s liberation and LGBTQIA+ movements. Together with Sue Deevy, Nelly Kaufer, Billie Miracle, and Dian Wagner, she coauthored Country Lesbians: The Story of the WomanShare Collective (Grants Pass, 1976). Newhouse holds a master’s degree in social work, which she has practiced for more than 30 years, and is the founding teacher of the Lesbian Buddhist Sangha in Berkeley. She currently lives in Walnut Creek, California.

Sharing Circles: Carol Newhouse and the WomanShare Collective is organized by the Wexner Center for the Arts and cocurated by Ohio State Associate Professor and Roy Lichtenstein Chair of Studio Art Carmen Winant and Wexner Center Associate Curator of Exhibitions Daniel Marcus with Curatorial Research Assistant Raechel Root and Graduate Curatorial Intern Arielle Irizarry.

SUPPORT FOR THIS PRESENTATION PROVIDED BY
Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts
Ohio Humanities

EXHIBITIONS MADE POSSIBLE BY
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

FREE GALLERIES MADE POSSIBLE BY
American Electric Power Foundation
Adam Flatto
Mary and C. Robert Kidder
Bill and Sheila Lambert

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT FOR FREE GALLERIES PROVIDED BY
CoverMyMeds
PNC Foundation

WEXNER CENTER PROGRAMS MADE POSSIBLE BY
Greater Columbus Arts Council 
The Wexner Family
National Endowment for the Arts 
Ohio Arts Council
L Brands Foundation
The Columbus Foundation
Nationwide Foundation
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT PROVIDED BY
Mike and Paige Crane
Axium Packaging
CampusParc
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
President Kristina M. Johnson and Mrs. Veronica Meinhard
Nancy Kramer
Larry and Donna James
Lisa Barton
Johanna DeStefano
Jones Day
Alex and Renée Shumate

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Now Exhibitions

Sharing Circles: Carol Newhouse and the WomanShare Collective