Saturday, January 12, 2008

The 100th Post Milestone - Celebrating with Judy Chicago

Amazingly, this is the Book Trout's 100th post. Seems like I just started this crazy blog thing. To celebrate this milestone, I introduce you to an interesting book:

Embroidering our Heritage: The Dinner Party Needlework, by Judy Chicago and Susan Hill, Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1980, first paperback edition. ISBN: 0385145691. 287 pages. Many illustrations and photographs, includes several pages of color plates. 4to in VG condition (covers rubbed). ($20.00 plus shipping available through our bookstore website.)

The Dinner Party art installation is now permanently part of the collection at the Brooklyn Museum in New York and is worth a visit if you have an interest in women's history and modern art. Judy Chicago is a feminist artist who envisioned The Dinner Party as a way of honoring women's contributions to history and art by having a large triangular table set with richly-worked textiles and vagina-motif china plates. Each of the 39 settings honors a different woman (from Boadaceia to Eleanor of Acquitaine to Georgia O'Keeffe) and incorporates symbols of their historical importance and arts/crafts techniques from their era. Georgia O'Keeffe would probably be comfortable with her peony-like vulva plate but no doubt Emily Dickinson would retreat to her bedroom with apoplexy upon seeing her privates done up in ruched lace and satin.

As an aside, I had the chance to see the work as a teenager (very interesting!) and it inspired my mother to sign up with Chicago as one of her needlework minions for The Birth Project, a subsequent celebration of images of women in the throes of childbirth.

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