Getting to know Judy Chicago : A feminist art icon

by Clear Water

We have been big fans of Judy Chicago for some time now, some of us for longer than others considering her art roots lay in the 70s. She is an icon and when we can collaborate with artists like Judy on accessible art collections, and educate those who may not be familiar with her work on how important it is, that is a good day at the office. Because it is, very important. 

We thought the best way to give you an idea of this vivid lady's commitment to supporting women in the arts as well as her background and journey as an artist, and becoming a feminist icon, was to share a few things you may not know about her. Six things to be exact. 

 Firstly, she changed her name to Judy Chicago. 

"Chicago native Judy Cohen Gerowitz became Judy Chicago in 1970 for many reasons. One was to throw off her father’s and husband’s names and the male dominance behind that practice. Another, as shown in the now famous Jerry McMillan photo announcing her breakout exhibition at California State University, Fullerton, was to prove her willingness to fight for her rights" - big think 

Her most famous work, The Dinner Party, once sparked an 87-minute debate in the U.S. House of Representatives over whether it was art or pornography.

It was following that The Dinner Party was banished to storage for nearly three decades.

 “The Dinner Party went into storage and I went into shock,” said Ms. Chicago, a small, passionate fireplug of a woman with short red curls and rose-tinted glasses. “It was the piece everyone wanted to see, and nobody wanted to show.” - The Observer

She is not a Pop artist.

"So I guess you could say that edges up against pop. There was certainly a pop culture in Los Angeles, even though it was very macho. I just never thought of myself as being a pop artist." 

She is determined to making a difference when it comes to women being treated equally in the art world. All you have to do is visit her website to find that out.

"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."

Yes, she is at the forefront of the women's art movement, but don't just call her a woman artist. 

"I remember myself when I was a young woman. I didn’t want to be identified as a woman artist, because, from my point of view, it was like saying: “Hey, she’s just a woman!” My work would be reduced or somehow marginalised."

She made herself into an artist because she knew that is what she was. 

"Once I knew that I wanted to be an artist, I had made myself into one. I did not understand that wanting doesn't always lead to action. Many of the women had been raised without the sense that they could mould and shape their own lives, and so, wanting to be an artist (but without the ability to realize their wants) was, for some of them, only an idle fantasy, like wanting to go to the moon"

She believes feminism is humanism. 

"I believe in art that is connected to real human feeling, that extends itself beyond the limits of the art world to embrace all people who are striving for alternatives in an increasingly dehumanized world. I am trying to make art that relates to the deepest and most mythic concerns of humankind and I believe that, at this moment of history, feminism is humanism."

And finally, a blurb from art history to sum up what this wonderful artist is truly about 

"Inspired by the women's movement and rebelling against the male-dominated art scene of the 1960s, which lionized the Minimalist work of artists like Donald Judd, Chicago embraced explicitly female content. Creating works that recognized the achievements of major female historical figures or celebrated women's unique experiences, Chicago produced a rich body of work that sought to add women to the historical record and, more generally, to enhance their representation in the visual arts"

So, you could say that it's quite thrilling that The Dinner Party is exhibiting to this day, currently at The Brooklyn Museum. And! that you can purchase four of the settings from the famous work as coasters!

What a journey as an artist, and as a woman, and one to follow and support! We feel very lucky to have worked with Judy on adapting her work to art wares. So you can bring her works into your every day, and celebrate women. Please if you have time, read about The Dinner Party and the work Judy did in research and in art to create it. It is, incredible. 

Shop Judy Chicago here