Profile of Judy Chicago - Essay Example

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Judy Chicago is described as a second-wave feminist because she exhibits one of the main characteristics of second-wave feminism which is the inclusion of diverse groups, perspectives, and definitions of feminisms (Fields 10). She shows second-wave feminism because she does not…
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June 30, Woman Awakened: Judith Chicago, Second-Wave Feminist Judith Chicago with Her Work, “The Dinner Party” Profile of a Woman Artist Activist: Pt.1
Judy Chicago is described as a second-wave feminist because she exhibits one of the main characteristics of second-wave feminism which is the inclusion of diverse groups, perspectives, and definitions of feminisms (Fields 10). She shows second-wave feminism because she does not promote one definition of feminism, and instead, she sees feminism as a product of different perspectives on womanhood and individuality (Fields 10). In “The Dinner Party,” Chicago made an open, triangular table with thirty-nine plate settings that honor thirty-nine women who contributed to the improvement of the well-being of women and their societies. Hundreds of men and women participated in the making of this art, which shows how art, by its production, can also signify the performance and output of gender equality and women empowerment.
As an artist and activist, Chicago played a dominant role in the feminist art movement of the 1970s. She was concerned that, even in art, women were invisible, and that, when they did make art, their works were devalued in the art world and society because of their gender (Chicago and Meyer 127). She finished graduate studies in art, which is leverage for her as an artist. When Chicago started as an artist, she de-gendered her identity and works because of the pressures in the male-dominated art world, wherein only masculine values and expressions were acceptable (Chicago and Meyer 126). Later on, Chicago changed her surname from Gerowitz to Chicago to symbolize her gender awakening (Chicago and Meyer 126). During that time, she established the country’s first feminist art education program, the Fresno Feminist Art Program, which distinctly combined feminist consciousness-raising and radical artistic experimentation (Chicago and Meyer 125). From here, she promoted art for and by women without delimiting their ideas about womanhood. Thus, Chicago acknowledged her privilege as a graduate art student by using her knowledge and skills to improve the awareness of other female artists about the need to express, and not to undercut, their gender identities.
Profile of a Woman Artist Activist Pt. 2
Chicago lived in Fresno, California, where she made many of her works. Later on, she and her husband, Donald Woodman, moved to and lived at Belen Hotel in Belen, New
Mexico. For the past five decades, Chicago has worked in diverse range of media, such as painting, drawing, sculpture, live performances, and mixed media installations, among others.
The issues of social justice are important to Chicago because she felt the injustice of the invisibility of women as artists and as leaders in their communities. Chicago showed second-wave feminism by not starting with what she thinks feminism is, but beginning with analyzing what women think about feminisms and helping her students express their gender identities through their works in her art programs. She says in an interview with Artstor, “…the greatest challenge is that, as stated by the pioneering women’s historian Gerda Lerner, ‘women don’t know what women before them thought or taught’ (and I would add created)” (“Ten Questions for Judy Chicago”). This is what she wants to achieve through “The Dinner Party,” and other feminist artworks- to urge women to know more about women’s history and to participate in awareness-raising about women in history, while also promoting gender equality in their own ways.
Lastly, what I find interesting in Chicago’s work is her transformation from being a de-gendered part of a man’s world to being a strong, independent woman in a man’s world. Her life is a journey that helped her awaken towards the realization that she is a woman and that she should not reject her womanhood as weak and dispensable. “The Dinner Party” and its representation of flowers and butterflies symbolize natural beauty inside women that must be expressed, so that it can be developed and shared with other women. Chicago inspires me to celebrate womanhood through the plural form of feminisms that embrace differences in class, race, culture, and religion. How can women scholars express their womanhood in different fields too, despite the pressure of gender stereotypes?
Works Cited
Chicago, J., & Meyer, L. (1995). “Judy Chicago, Feminist Artist and Educator.” Feminist Foremothers in Womens Studies, Psychology, and Mental Health. Eds. Ellen Cole, Esther D. Rothblum, and Phyllis Chesler. New York: Haworth. 125-140. Print.
Fields, Jill. “Introduction.” Entering the Picture: Judy Chicago, The Fresno Feminist Art Program, and the Collective Visions of Women Artists. New York: Routledge, 2012. 1-22. Print.
“Ten Questions for Judy Chicago.” Artstor, 10 Nov. 2010. Web. 29 June 2014. . Read More
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