Fall Exhibitions Celebrate Famed Feminist Artist Judy Chicago

Judy Chicago addresses a gathering of volunteers in the Dinner Party studio, ca.  1978, studio.
Judy Chicago addresses a gathering of volunteers in the Dinner Party studio, ca. 1978, studio.
(NMWA. Photographer: Amy Meadow)
  • Judy Chicago, Beckoning Cat, 2004.

    Judy Chicago, Beckoning Cat, 2004.

    Jessica Silverman Gallery. Photographer: John Wilson White

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) has announced the creation of the Judy Chicago Visual Archive at the museum’s Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center. The archive will document Chicago’s career through photographs, slides, negatives and printed ephemera. These materials span the 1960s through the present and capture fleeting performance pieces such as her pyrotechnics and dry ice works, as well as exhibitions of drawings, paintings, sculpture and installations, including The Dinner Party.

The visual archive will be an essential resource for researchers. The Judy Chicago Visual Archive collection at NMWA will round out the rich documentation that exists on Chicago’s life and work, including the Judy Chicago Papers at Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library and the Judy Chicago Art Education Collection at Pennsylvania State University.

“Collaborating with Judy Chicago to bring her visual archive to NMWA is one of the most important steps we have taken in developing our archival program for the future,” said NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling. “Not only will her substantial body of work be safeguarded for future generations, but we believe that Chicago’s gift will encourage other artists to entrust their archives to NMWA—the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to preserving women’s creative contributions.”

Director of NMWA’s Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center Sarah Osborne Bender says, “This gift opens the door to deep research into the visual record of Chicago’s long creative career as a game - changing feminist artist. We are excited to be working with this celebrated artist as well as the Schlesinger Library and Penn State to safeguard these materials and bring to light the fullness of her career.”

To celebrate the announcement of the archive as well as the museum’s 30th -anniversary year, NMWA will present an exhibition featuring Chicago’s work and a Fresh Talk program with Chicago as a speaker. Inside the Dinner Party Studio will be held September 17, 2017 – January 5, 2018, at National Museum of Women in the Arts, 4th floor galleries, adjacent to Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center.

Inside the Dinner Party Studio explores the creation of Judy Chicago’s monumental and radical work The Dinner Party through archives, documentation and film. Over the course of nearly five years and with the help of hundreds of volunteers, Chicago executed one of the most iconic artworks of the 20th century, confronting the erasure of women from history using elaborate research, craft and presentation. The extraordinary complexity of The Dinner Party’s process is illustrated through test objects, designs, documentation and revealing behind - the - scenes footage shot by filmmaker Johanna Demetrakas. From nascent ideas in a sketch book to test plates and a textile template, visitors will see the historic record of this unique creation process.

Chicago’s legacy will also be the subject of several exhibitions and events in the United States and abroad this fall, including Judy Chicago’s Pussies September 18 – October 28, 2017, at Jessica Silverman Gallery in San Francisco, California.

Jessica Silverman Gallery will present Judy Chicago’s Pussies, a solo show of work by the famed feminist artist, ranging from 1964 to 2004. Chicago’s work has long been associated with images of pussy power as a visual metaphor for female agency, even before the term was widely accepted. What is less well known are her images of cats. This exhibition is the first to trace the long and fascinating overlap between her broad - ranging, beautiful “central core” imagery and her eccentric feline iconography.

Pussy Power: Judy Chicago in Conversation with Sarah Thornton, will take place on Sunday, September 10, 2017, at 7 p.m. JCC of San Francisco

Chicago will be in conversation with cultural sociologist and author Sarah Thornton to discuss Chicago’s artwork featuring cats.

Roots of “The Dinner Party”: History in the Making is October 20, 2017 – March 4 , 2018, at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum.

Roots of “The Dinner Party”: History in the Making is the first museum exhibition to examine Chicago’s evolving plans for The Dinner Party in depth, detailing its development as a multilayered artwork, a triumph of collaborative art - making, and a testament to the power of historical revisionism.

Chicago’s ambitious research project combatted the absence of women from mainstream historical narratives and blazed the trail for feminist art historical methodologies in an era of social change. It also validated mediums traditionally considered the domain of women and domestic labor, as Chicago studied and experiment ed with China painting, porcelain, and needlework.

The exhibition presents rarely seen test plates, research documents, ephemera, notebooks , and preparatory drawings from 1971 through 1979 alongside The Dinner Party, encouraging exploration of its formal, conceptual , and material progress

. Roots of “The Dinner Party” is the final exhibition in A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum, a yearlong series of exhibitions celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. Brooklyn Museum’s fall gala is Thursday, October 19, 2017. Chicago will be honored at the Brooklyn Museum’s fall benefit. More details will be announced at a later date.

Womenhouse October 20, 2017 – January 28, 2018, at La Monnaie de Paris, travels to NMWA 

This exhibition, created through a partnership between the National Museum of Women in the Arts and La Monnaie de Paris, features more than 30 global artists who conceive of home as a place for de monstration and liberation rather than a space solely for comfort and stability. Womenhouse forms a sequel to the famous project Womanhouse, developed in 1972 by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro and their students at Cal Arts

. Like their foremothers in the 1970s, contemporary artists in this exhibition recast conventional ideas about women and the home with acuity and wit, creating provocative photographs, videos, sculptures and room - like installations built with materials ranging from felt to rubber bands. Organized across six themes — from “Desperate Housewife” to “Nomads” — Womenhouse emphasizes the plurality of contemporary women artists’ views on the home. The exhibition will be on view at NMWA from March 9 to May 28, 2018.

 Its catalogue includes an interview with Judy Chicago facilitated by NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling.


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