Judy Chicago, The Artist Critics Love to Hate
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.