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Guide to the Linda Mary Montano Papers, 1931-2014 MSS.386

Fales Library and Special Collections
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
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Fales Library and Special Collections

Collection processed by Emily King

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on August 13, 2019

 Updated by Shirin Khaki to include materials from accession 2017.092. Updated by Anna McCormick to include bibliographic materials formerly separated from the collection.  , July 2017 , August 2018

Biographical note

Linda Montano was born in 1942 in Saugerties, New York. Raised as a devout Roman Catholic, Montano's childhood was infused with a blended influence of Catholic ritual and artistic endeavor. After studying at the College of New Rochelle for a year, Montano joined the novitiate of the Maryknoll Sisters. She left the convent two years later, suffering from anorexia, and pursued an arts degree from the College of New Rochelle, graduating in 1965. Both the convent and the disorder would later become part of her performance life.

During the '60s and early '70s, Montano developed an interest in performance art and graduated with an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1969. Her thesis project, "The Chicken Show," was later adapted and became her first performance art piece, "The Chicken Woman." Through the '70s, Montano's performances covered a variety of subjects, ranging from the influence of the Catholic Church on her life, to testing the boundaries of her physicality, and to the role healing practices can play in art. Montano's early performances include "Handcuff" (1973), in which she was handcuffed to artist Tom Marioni for three days, and "Three Day Blindfold" (1974). In 1983 and 1984, Montano participated in Tehching Hsieh's "One Year Performance," in which the two artists were bound to each other by a short length of rope 24 hours a day for one year.

In 1984, Montano began the performance "Seven Years of Living Art", in which she lived out the energy qualities of a specific chakra for seven years. Montano has also performed "Art/Life Counseling," at the New Museum and other venues, using palm, tarot, and psychic readings in order to respond to her subjects' problems in creative ways. Montano often appears and performs as Saint Teresa of Avila; Mother Teresa of Calcutta; Bob Dylan; Hillary Clinton, and Woodstock musician Paul McMahon.

Montano has taught performance art at numerous institutions, most notably at the University of Texas at Austin. Her time there resulted in her book, Letters from Linda Montano, edited by Jennie Klein. In addition to teaching, Montano has written several other books, including  You Too Are a Performance Artist,  ART IN EVERYDAY LIFE, and a book of interviews entitled  Performance Artists Talking in the Eighties.