April 4, 2022

Judy Chicago and Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior’s Haute Couture Spring–Summer 2020 show. Photo by Sarah Blais.

At the moment, Donald and I are busy preparing for our trip to Washington, D.C. and New York where we will participate in several galas. The National Museum of Women in the Arts (the only one in the world devoted to exhibiting and preserving women’s art) is honoring me, Maria Grazia Chiuri, the first female creative director of Dior, and Mellody Hobson, a prominent businesswoman and the first black woman to be chairperson of an S & P Corporation.

Dior is the major sponsor of the event and are doing the decor, which will include my English banners, What if Women Ruled the World, which I created for Maria Grazia’s 2020 couture show, titled The Female Divine. Because the Dior headquarters (where the shows usually take place) was closed for renovation, it was held in the garden behind the Rodin Museum where Dior realized a dream I’d had since the 1970’s; a gigantic Goddess figure in whose 225 foot body the couture show was held. As I often say, working with Dior was the most incredible creative experience I have ever had, which why Donald and I decided to go to New York where – four days after the NMWA event – Maria Grazia is being honored at the Brooklyn Ball. I have been asked to introduce her, probably because of my long relationship with her and the museum, where The Dinner Party is permanently housed in the Feminist Center (again, the only one in the world).

Judy Chicago, The Dinner Party, 1974–79, Ceramic, porcelain, textile, 576 × 576 in. (1463 × 1463 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, 2002.10 © Judy Chicago/Artist Rights Society (ARS) New York; Photo © Donald Woodman/ARS NY

Closer to home the Wo/Manhouse project is taking on a life of its own. As often happens with my big projects, I find myself in the position of yelping: “Wait for me”. Eighteen artists have been selected out of ninety proposals from all over the state. The jury included (in addition to Donald and me), Nancy Youdelman, who will facilitate the project; Tonya Turner Carroll of Turner Carroll Gallery in Santa Fe; Diane Gelon, president of the board and Megan Malcolm Morgan, executive director of Through the Flower and Karl Huchins, our new warehouse manager, who will provide technical support. Megan Malcolm Morgan (or 3M as we call her to distinguish her from our studio manager, Megan Schultz. She was actively involved in the initial selection but had a conflict the day the final jurying was done. For a list of the artists and other information, check the Wo/Manhouse website later this week.

Nancy Youdelman photographed by Roger Johnson in 2021.

Nancy and 3M have already begun to have conversations with the artists who will now finalize their projects and create detailed drawings before May 2nd when Nancy will be here and the project will officially begin. 3M organized a group of community volunteers a few months ago and they have been meeting weekly for planning sessions. They will act as artist liaisons during the project to help everyone with logistics as many of the artists will not be familiar with Belen.

We had always planned to re-create some of the original Womanhouse performances and some artists’ proposals were geared towards or included performance ideas. In Fresno and Cal-Arts, I did a lot of performance with my students and I will reprise that role at the end of April when we will have weekly Performance meetings to develop and rehearse the various plays (including the notorious “Cock and Cunt” play, this time with male, instead of female, actors). We will also offer a surprise historic performance over the opening weekend which is June 17-19. Check the Wo/Manhouse 2022 schedule for more details.

Judy Chicago, Cock and Cunt Play from Womanhouse, 1972, Performed by Faith Wilding (left) and Jan Lester (right); © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo courtesy of Though the Flower Archives housed at the Penn State University Archives.

An added attraction will be two rooms devoted to the International Honor Quilt, a huge participatory project that I initiated in 1980, when The Dinner Party was traveling. It seemed that everyone had an opinion about what women should have been included and were not shy about telling me. In response, Through the Flower (which was handling the exhibition tour) invited people to make triangular quilts of their own, honoring whomever they chose. As they often say, be careful what you wish for because over the course of The Dinner Party’s tour around the world, Through the Flower became the recipient of almost 700 quilts, each measuring two feet on a side.

Installation view of the International Honor Quilt in Melbourne, Australia, 1988. Photo courtesy of Though the Flower Archives housed at the Penn State University Archives.

In 2011, TTF gifted these to the University of Louisville’s Hite Center, where they are incorporated into the curriculum of a school that sits in a major quilting center. We thought that including some of these would symbolize the widespread, shared meanings of the home and also honor the domestic arts. 

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