The Blog of Awesome Women/ Judy Chicago: Guess Who Came to Dinner?
March 01

The Blog of Awesome Women/ Judy Chicago: Guess Who Came to Dinner?

Judy Chicago set the art world on its ear with “The
Dinner Party,” her mixed media installation made from
traditional women’s crafts—needlework, weaving,
ceramics, china-painting, and plastics. Born Judy Cohen
in Chicago in 1939, she soon left for the burgeoning art
scene in Los Angeles in the early 1960s. After her husband
Jerry Gerowitz died in an automobile accident, Judy
changed her name to Judy Chicago at the prompting of
gallery owner Rolf Nelson. Nelson called her that partially
because of her heavy Midwest accent and partially because
of her strong sense of purpose. At a show at Cal State
Fullerton in 1969, a sign with the following hung at the
front door: Judy Gerowitz hereby divests herself of all
names imposed upon her through male social dominance
and freely chooses her own name, Judy Chicago.
Starting in 1973, Chicago began work on “The Dinner
Party,” but soon realized her ambitious art project was
going to require some help and ended up with an army
of huge banners spelling out the names featured on
the forty-eight foot triangular table set with uniquely
designed vulvic plates and sumptuously handmade and
embroidered placemats. Every plate is in honor of a
woman who made a significant contribution to herstory.
The incredibly detailed work of “The Dinner Party” table
shows the research, thoughtfulness, and thoroughness
of the project. The Amazons’ placemat is replete with
labyris, the sacred double-axe, and breastplates, a
crescent moon, and many other minutiae. A total of 999
women are named in Chicago’s opus, with engravings on
triangular (Triple Goddess Power!) ceramic tiles on the
Heritage Floor.


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