NMWA Announces Creation of Judy Chicago Visual Archive and Opening of INSIDE THE DINNER PARTY STUDIO Exhibition

Mixed media work on paper shows a large ink drawing of a sculptural plate with page-like leaves unfurling in a round, flower-like pattern. Smaller plate deisgns, collaged photographs of the author, and her written words are surrounded by pink, orange, yellow and green watercolor.

WASHINGTON—The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) is proud to announce the creation of the Judy Chicago Visual Archive at the museum’s Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center. The archive will document Chicago’s career through photographs, slides, negatives and printed ephemera. These materials span the 1960s through the present and capture fleeting performance pieces such as her pyrotechnics and dry ice works, as well as exhibitions of drawings, paintings, sculpture and installations, including The Dinner Party. The visual archive will be an essential resource for researchers.

The Judy Chicago Visual Archive collection at NMWA will round out the rich documentation that exists on Chicago’s life and work, including the Judy Chicago Papers at Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library and the Judy Chicago Art Education Collection at Pennsylvania State University.

“Collaborating with Judy Chicago to bring her visual archive to NMWA is one of the most important steps we have taken in developing our archival program for the future,” said NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling. “Not only will her substantial body of work be safeguarded for future generations, but we believe that Chicago’s gift will encourage other artists to entrust their archives to NMWA—the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to preserving women’s creative contributions.”

Director of NMWA’s Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center Sarah Osborne Bender says, “This gift opens the door to deep research into the visual record of Chicago’s long creative career as a game-changing feminist artist. We are excited to be working with this celebrated artist as well as the Schlesinger Library and Penn State to safeguard these materials and bring to light the fullness of her career.”  

To celebrate the announcement of the archive as well as the museum’s 30th-anniversary year, NMWA will present an exhibition featuring Chicago’s work and a Fresh Talk program with Chicago as a speaker.

Inside the Dinner Party Studio
September 17, 2017–January 5, 2018
National Museum of Women in the Arts

4th floor galleries, adjacent to Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center

Inside the Dinner Party Studio explores the creation of Judy Chicago’s monumental and radical work The Dinner Party through archives, documentation and film. Over the course of nearly five years and with the help of hundreds of volunteers, Chicago executed one of the most iconic artworks of the 20th century, confronting the erasure of women from history using elaborate research, craft and presentation. The extraordinary complexity of The Dinner Party’s process is illustrated through test objects, designs, documentation and revealing behind-the-scenes footage shot by filmmaker Johanna Demetrakas. From nascent ideas in a sketch book to test plates and a textile template, visitors will see the historic record of this unique creation process.

Sunday, September 17, 2017, from 4:30 to 8 p.m.
National Museum of Women in the Arts

To coincide with the opening of Inside the Dinner Party Studio, Chicago will participate in NMWA’s Women, Arts and Social Change initiative’s signature Fresh Talk series. In conversation, Chicago and Alison Gass, director of the Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, will explore how the arts can amplify women’s voices and heighten their visibility. The talk will be followed by a Sunday Supper. General admission tickets are $25, and NMWA members, seniors and students are $20. Price includes museum admission and Sunday Supper. Reservations required.

Chicago’s legacy will also be the subject of several exhibitions and events in the United States and abroad this fall:

Judy Chicago’s Pussies
September 18–October 28, 2017
Jessica Silverman Gallery in San Francisco, California

Jessica Silverman Gallery is pleased to present Judy Chicago’s Pussies, a solo show of work by the famed feminist artist, ranging from 1964 to 2004. Chicago’s work has long been associated with images of pussy power as a visual metaphor for female agency, even before the term was widely accepted. What is less well known are her images of cats. This exhibition is the first to trace the long and fascinating overlap between her broad-ranging, beautiful “central core” imagery and her eccentric feline iconography.

Pussy Power: Judy Chicago in Conversation with Sarah Thornton
Sunday, September 10, 2017, at 7 p.m.
JCC of San Francisco

Chicago will be in conversation with cultural sociologist and author Sarah Thornton to discuss Chicago’s artwork featuring cats.

Roots of “The Dinner Party”: History in the Making
October 20, 2017–March 4, 2018

Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum

Roots of “The Dinner Party”: History in the Makingis the first museum exhibition to examine Chicago’s evolving plans for The Dinner Party in depth, detailing its development as a multilayered artwork, a triumph of collaborative art-making, and a testament to the power of historical revisionism. Chicago’s ambitious research project combatted the absence of women from mainstream historical narratives and blazed the trail for feminist art historical methodologies in an era of social change. It also validated mediums traditionally considered the domain of women and domestic labor, as Chicago studied and experimented with China painting, porcelain, and needlework. The exhibition presents rarely seen test plates, research documents, ephemera, notebooks, and preparatory drawings from 1971 through 1979 alongside The Dinner Party, encouraging exploration of its formal, conceptual, and material progress. Roots of “The Dinner Party” is the final exhibition in A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum, a yearlong series of exhibitions celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.

October 20, 2017–January 28, 2018

La Monnaie de Paris

March 9–May 28, 2018

This exhibition, created through a partnership between the National Museum of Women in the Arts and La Monnaie de Paris, features more than 30 global artists who conceive of home as a place for demonstration and liberation rather than a space solely for comfort and stability. Womenhouse forms a sequel to the famous project Womanhouse, developed in 1972 by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro and their students at Cal Arts. Like their foremothers in the 1970s, contemporary artists in this exhibition recast conventional ideas about women and the home with acuity and wit, creating provocative photographs, videos, sculptures and room-like installations built with materials ranging from felt to rubber bands. Organized across six themes—from “Desperate Housewife” to “Nomads”—Womenhouseemphasizes the plurality of contemporary women artists’ views on the home. The exhibition will be on view at NMWA from March 9 to May 28, 2018. Its catalogue includes an interview with Judy Chicago facilitated by NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling.

Judy Chicago

Judy Chicago is an artist, author of 14 books, educator and humanist whose work and life are models for an enlarged definition of art, an expanded role for the artist and women’s rights to freedom of expression. Chicago is best known for her role in creating a feminist art and art education program in California during the early 1970s, and for her monumental work The Dinner Party, executed between 1974 and 1979, and which is now housed at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art in the Brooklyn Museum. Over the subsequent decades, Chicago has approached a variety of subjects in a range of mediums, including the Birth Project; PowerPlay; the Holocaust Project: From Darkness into Light; and Resolutions: A Stitch in Time. Chicago’s work has been exhibited widely in the United States and internationally, and her continued influence has, in recent years, been increasingly acknowledged.

“My lifelong goal has been to overcome the erasure that has eclipsed the contributions of so many women,” says Chicago. “It is deeply gratifying to me that NMWA has come together with the Schlesinger Library, Harvard University and Penn State (where my art education archive is housed) to assure that my art, my life and my radical educational pedagogy are preserved for future generations. I am also excited by the variety of exhibitions this fall and honored by the tribute being planned at the Brooklyn Museum.”

The National Museum of Women in the Arts

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) is the world’s only major museum solely dedicated to celebrating the creative contributions of women. The museum champions women through the arts by collecting, exhibiting, researching and creating programs that advocate for equity and shine a light on excellence. NMWA highlights remarkable women artists of the past while also promoting the best women artists working today. The museum’s collection includes over 4,700 works by more than 1,000 women artists from the 16th century to the present, including Mary Cassatt, Frida Kahlo, Alma Thomas, Lee Krasner, Louise Bourgeois, Chakaia Booker and Nan Goldin.

NMWA is located at 1250 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., in a landmark building near the White House. It is open Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday, noon–5 p.m. For information, call 202-783-5000 or visit nmwa.org. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for visitors 65 and over and students, and free for NMWA members and youths 18 and under. Free Community Days take place on the first Sunday of each month. For more information about NMWA, visit nmwa.org, Broad Strokes Blog, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.