Judy Chicago: Trailblazer
Born Judy Cohen in 1939, Judy Chicago is a true renaissance woman: artist, author, and educator. Her art has been exhibited in the United States as well as in Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. She publicly changed her name to Judy Chicago in 1970. In a full page ad in the Artforum, she said she made the change to “divest herself of all names imposed upon ( me) through male social dominance“.
In the early 1970’s, Chicago was a pioneer in feminist art and art education. In 1974, she created her most famous work, The Dinner Party, which was produced between 1974 and 1979 with the participation of hundreds of female volunteers. The Dinner Party was a collaborative multimedia piece that symbolized the history of women in Western Civilization. It has been seen by more than one million viewers in sixteen exhibitions held at venues in six countries around the world.
From 1980 to 1985, Chicago pioneered the Birth Project. Judy Chicago designed a series of birth and creation images using needlework which were produced by needle workers around the United States. This work addressed the lack of iconography regarding birth as a common topic in Western Art.
While completing the Birth Project, Judy Chicago was also working on her latest studio piece and created Powerplay. Her feelings about power and the misuse of power that were involved in Powerplay, as well as her growing interest in her Jewish heritage, informed Judy Chicago’s next work. The Holocaust Project: from Darkness into Light, premiered in October 1993 at the Spertus Museum in Chicago, and has traveled to museums around the United States until 2002. Some pieces from the Holocaust Project still continue to be exhibited today.
“For over five decades, Chicago has remained steadfast in her commitment to the power of art as a vehicle for intellectual transformation and social change and to women's right to engage in the highest level of art production. As a result, she has become a symbol for people everywhere, known and respected as an artist, writer, teacher, and humanist whose work and life are models for an enlarged definition of art, an expanded role for the artist, and women's right to freedom of expression.”
Judy’s artwork is in the permanent collections in these locations:
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Art Gallery of South Wales, Brooklyn Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art, Elizabeth A. Sackler Museum for Feminist art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art Database, Missoula Museum of Art, New hall Collection of the University of Cambridge, and the University of Iowa Museum of Art.
By Melissa Montgomery