Frequently Asked Questions

1. I am doing research about Judy Chicago and need help.

There are many sources for information about Judy Chicago and her work. The first step would be to check out this website which includes a comprehensive biography, exhibition history, bibliography of writing by and about Judy Chicago along with a timeline of her career and examples of her work, as well as information about her current activities. You can also explore the website of Through the Flower, the non-profit arts organization Chicago founded, whose mission is to ensure that women’s achievements become a permanent part of our cultural heritage. Through the Flower has an online store where you can find out about and purchase books by and about Judy Chicago. If you cannot afford to buy them, you can probably get these books through inter-library loans in your community.

2. I am planning a trip to New Mexico and would like to visit Judy Chicago’s studio.

Judy Chicago’s studio is not open to the public. If you are visiting New Mexico, you might like to explore the New Mexico Women’s Cultural Corridor that features sites honoring various important women in the arts. The core collection of the Birth ProjectJudy Chicago’s important series of needleworked and painted images celebrating birth and creation is owned by the Albuquerque Museum,. The work can be seen by appointment.

3. I am doing research on Judy Chicago and/or Feminist art and would like to ask Judy Chicago some questions.

Although Judy Chicago is very appreciative of your interest in Feminist art, she has very little time because she is busy working in her studio as well as travelling to exhibitions of her artwork, worldwide. There are many ways to obtain the information you want other than by contacting her directly. She would suggest that you check out this website as there is a considerable amount of information for students and scholars including essays that she has written. You might also go to Through the Flower’s website and on-line store which offers books, catalogs and other materials for purchase that can aid you in your research. One reason that Chicago has written so many books and essays is that she wanted to make her ideas widely available. There are also other sites that provide information about Feminist art, particularly the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. After you have investigated all these sources, if you still have questions, you may contact us again.

4. I am studying The Dinner Party and have many questions I would like to ask Judy Chicago.

Judy Chicago is very appreciative of your interest in Feminist art, however, she has very little time because she is busy working in her studio as well as travelling to exhibitions of her artwork, worldwide. There is a considerable amount of information about The Dinner Party, notably, Judy Chicago’s recent book, "The Dinner Party: From Creation to Preservation" (Merrell Publishers) which you can purchase from Through the Flower or obtain at your local library or through inter-library loan. There is also a 40 minute DVD tour of The Dinner Party narrated by Judy Chicago that you can purchase from Through the Flower. And there is a great deal of information available on the website of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, where The Dinner Party is on permanent display. 

5. I am a teacher and my students are doing a project based upon The Dinner Party.

Over the years, there have been many K-12 Dinner Party projects, which is why Judy Chicago worked with a team of curriculum writers from Kutztown University to develop a K-12 Dinner Party Curriculum that is being maintained in-perpetuity on the website of Penn State University, site of Judy Chicago’s Art Education Archive. Through the Flower offers a range of The Dinner Party visual resource materials to amplify the curriculum in it's online store. Judy Chicago sincerely hopes that teachers will take advantage of the years of hard work that went into formulating this curriculum if they plan to do any more projects related to The Dinner Party, which is a rich and complex work of art that can provide inspiration to students of all ages.

6. The triangular shape of The Dinner Party

The triangle is an early symbol of both the female and the Goddess. The fact that the table and porcelain floor are in the shape of equilateral triangles emphasizes Judy Chicago’s belief in equality between all peoples, despite gender, race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

7. Questions about vaginal imagery in The Dinner Party

Much has been made of the imagery on The Dinner Party plates, which have often been described as ‘vaginal’. Although it is true that some of the images do suggest the female vulva, not all the plates contain vaginal references, e.g. “Sojourner Truth”, which is based upon African masks to honor her African-American heritage and “Ethel Smyth”, which is a piano whose lid threatens to compress the form. Those plates that do include vaginal references were created with the goal of establishing a visual iconography of female agency, something that is sorely lacking in art history prior to The Dinner Party. Although phallic images abound in art and architecture (think the Washington Monument), comparable female images are scarce. The critical outrage that surrounded The Dinner Party’s world-wide exhibition tour (1979-1996) can be best understood as emanating from this aesthetic lack which renders female forms unfamiliar and therefore, shocking. Happily, the permanent installation of The Dinner Party at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, suggests that finally, this iconic work has been appreciated for what it is, a groundbreaking, monumental installation celebrating women’s achievements in Western Civilization.

8. I am researching the Womanhouse project and am having difficulty finding information.

There is a wonderful documentary film by Johanna Demetrakas as well as copies of the Womanhouse catalog available at the on-line store of Through the Flower. Also, there have been many projects based on Womanhouse that can be researched online. Another resource is the the Judy Chicago Art Education Collection housed in the University Archives in the Special Collections Library of Penn State’s University Park campus, as well as online.

9. I am interested in knowing where I can view the Holocaust Project?

The Holocaust Project: From Darkness into Light, created by Judy Chicago in collaboration with her husband, photographer Donald Woodman (along with selected artisans) toured the United States for ten years; from 1993 – 2002. Since that time, works from the Holocaust Project have been included in a variety of exhibitions, notably “Judy Chicago: Jewish Identity”, curated by Laura Kruger and Dr. Gail Levin. This show examined Jewish themes in Judy Chicago’s work. Also, Rainbow Shabbat, a sixteen foot stained glass work that was the final work in the exhibition, is often displayed as part of Judy Chicago’s work in glass. To see if any of the Holocaust Project works are being exhibited currently, please check Judy Chicago's exhibition schedule on this webiste. Additionally, there is a DVD and a book about the Holocaust Project available in the on-line store of Through the Flower's website.

10. The Stained Glass Logo in the Holocaust Project

The stained glass logo that marks the entryway to the Holocaust Project is based upon the different colored triangles worn by inmates in Hitler’s concentration camps. All groups were marked by these triangles, which were worn point down. For this work, Judy Chicago reversed the triangle so that it points up as a symbol of resistance and survival. Surrounding the different colored triangles is barbed wire (a reference to the barbed wire fences at the camps) and flames (referring to the gas ovens that consumed so many thousands of victims.). The overall image is intended to commemorate the courage and survival of Holocaust survivors.

11. The Fall Tapestry

The Fall, a monumental weaving executed by Judy Chicago’s long-time collaborator, Audrey Cowan, is a visual narrative suggesting that the Holocaust grew out of the very ‘fabric’ of Western Civilization (hence the use of tapestry as Judy Chicago selects particular media for their suitability to her intended content). The left side of the tapestry is based upon the Pergammon Altar, a famous Greek relief depicting the mythological battle between the Amazons and the Giants. The imagery involves a symbolic representation of the ‘battle of the sexes’ and is a metaphor for the historic defeat of matriarchy and the rise of patriarchy. The work visually chronicles the conquest of women and nature and the gradual development of male-dominated religions and society, also, some of the tragic consequences of the Scientific and Industrial revolutions. The right hand side of the tapestry portrays assembly-line techniques, originally used to process animals and eventually applied to human beings. Additionally, a second strata of iconography on the upper right side portrays the historic overlaps between anti-feminism and anti-Semitism. Images of Holocaust Project work (as well as many other series) can be seen in the Artist section of this website.

12. I wonder if Judy Chicago ever accepts interns, assistants or volunteers.

Judy Chicago does not accept interns, assistants or volunteers into her studio, however, there are many tasks involved with maintaining her visual archives and there are opportunities for six week to two month intensive internships. These internships involve learning about the myriad of activities that are involved in the life of a professional artist, for example; organizing slide and digital files, archiving and inventorying visual and written materials, packing and shipping art, maintaining bibliographic files and other activities that train interns to enter the art profession either as artists or as art professionals. For information, e-mail your resume to Preference will be given to those who have a wide range of computer, photoshop and digital skills plus a high level of attention to detail and good work habits.