Critically acclaimed and
highly controversial, Judy Chicago is a unique artist in the contemporary art
world. Known as the artist that ‘critics love to hate’, her work is a precursor
to the rise of feminism within the arts. Since the 70s, she has been a strong
advocate for women’s rights, both, as an activist and as an art educator.
Judy Chicago was born in 1939 in Chicago,
USA. As an artist, ahead of her time, she adapted to the lack opportunities
available to women within the arts and trained herself to the “macho arts”,
taking classes in body work. She learned spray painting and the skill to fuse
colour and surface to any type of media. It eventually became a signature
element to her later work. Collaboration is another major aspect of Chicago’s
installation works. Most of her artistic projects were all completed as a
collaborative process with hundreds of volunteer participants.
Though her work
cannot be summed up in just a few lines, if we had to pick three of the
artist’s projects, we would certainly choose Womanhouse, The Dinner Party and Birth Project. Womanhouse was a project that involved Judy Chicago and Miriam
Schapiro. It began in the fall of 1971 and was the first public exhibition of
Feminist Art. They wanted to start the year with a large scale collaborative
project that involved woman artists who spent much of their time talking about
their problems as women. The Dinner Party is Chicago’s masterpiece. Considered to be the first “epic”
feminist work, it takes the form of a story symbolizing women. The installation
consists of 39 dining tables, joined together and arranged in a triangle, with
each table representing a historical female figure. The figures, mythological
and historical, are all from various periods and fields. Finally, Birth Project used images of childbirth
to celebrate women’s role as mothers. Chicago was inspired to create this
collective work because of the lack of imagery and representation of birth in
the art world.
In 1978, she
founded the non-profit feminist art organization, “Through the Flower”. The
organization seeks to educate the public about the importance of art and how it
can be used as a tool to emphasize women’s achievements. It’s probably one of
her biggest achievements along with her artwork.
Having devoted 50 years of her career combating for gender equality, it seems the times have finally caught up the vanguard artist, giving her recognition she deserves. Among several recent and upcoming honors, Time magazine considers her one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2018. This week, in Paris, she collaborated with Maria Grazia Churi from the French luxury label, Dior, on a show named “The Female Divine”. The exhibition, centered around the question, “what if women ruled the world?”, is still open for visits at the Rodin Museum until the 27th January 2020.
Chicago is one
of the most significant artists of modern times and her activism fits perfectly
with our values, leading to a collaboration in 2019. In celebration of her 80th
birthday, The Skateroom released three very limited editions inspired by Judy
Chicago’s work. Through the sales of these editions, we support Free Movement
Skateboarding and Chicago’s non-profit, Through The Flower.
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