Judy Chicago collaborated with more than 150 needleworkers during the Birth Project to create dozens of images combining painting and needlework that celebrate various aspects of the birth process; from the painful to the mythical. Sometimes witty and always original, this series celebrates the birth-giving capacity of women along with their creative spirit. Birth Project works were toured by Through the Flower to over 100 venues, then gifted by the organization to various institutions around the country. The Birth Project is included in many prominent permanent collections.
During this same period, Chicago created numerous drawings and prints in sizes ranging from the small to the monumental. Some of these images relate to specific works from the Birth Project while others are parallel projects, for example, In the Beginning, a monumental, 30 foot long drawing in Prismacolor pencil which is a visual narrative, combining a written text re-imagining the Genesis myth with powerful symbolism. This same Re-Creation myth (written by Chicago) provided the underpinnings for The Creation, a 14 foot tapestry woven by Audrey Cowan, Chicago’s long time collaborator.
In 2011, The Creation was exhibited at the Museum of Art and Design in New York as part of an exhibition titled Judy Chicago Tapestries: Woven by Audrey Cowan, the first survey of Chicago’s tapestry designs. In a catalogue essay titled “Judy Chicago’s Tapestries: Persuasions of Change”, senior curator David Revere McFadden wrote about The Creation tapestry:
“Casting this archetypal story as that of female fecundity flies in the face of visual, cultural, and religious history. It becomes a metanarrative by implication, reflecting Chicago’s determination to challenge the status quo and to question received knowledge”.
Click on the image to view it in its complete form.
Judy Chicago, The Crowing Quilt 5/9, 1982, reverse applique and quilting over drawing on batik fabric , 56.5 x 89 in. © Judy Chicago
Judy Chicago, Earth Birth, 1983, sprayed Versatex and DMC floss on fabric, 62.5 x 132.2 in. © Judy Chicago
Judy Chicago, Detail from Earth Birth, 1983, sprayed Versatex and DMC floss on fabric. © Judy Chicago
Judy Chicago, Birth Garment 1: Pregnant Amazon, 1984, dyeing, spinning, weaving, and needlepoint on fabric, 44 x 43 in. © Judy Chicago
Judy Chicago, Birth Garment 2: Flowering Shrub, 1984, dyeing, spinning, weaving, and needlepoint on fabric, 44 x 43 in. © Judy Chicago
Judy Chicago, Smocked Figure and details, 1984, smocking and embroidery over drawing on fabric, 61.5 x 22 in. © Judy Chicago
Judy Chicago, Birth Special Technique 1, 1984, filet crochet over drawing on fabric, 94 x 225 in. © Judy Chicago
Judy Chicago, Detail from Birth Special Technique 1, 1984, filet crochet over drawing on fabric. © Judy Chicago