My first ideas in developing imagery for the Birth Project involved using the birth process as a metaphor for creation. In 1975, I met a radical nun who collaborated with me in writing a reinterpretation of the myth of Genesis from a female point of view. I began trying to build a visual analog to this myth (as expressed in The Creation, a 14-foot tapestry), one that would affirm the fact that it was women who created life. I went to the library to see what images of birth I could find. I was struck dumb when my research turned up almost none. It was obvious that birth was a universal human experience and one that is central to women's lives. Why were there no images?
Judy Chicago, born in Chicago in 1939, is an artist, author, feminist, educator, and intellectual whose career now spans four decades. Her most famous work, The Dinner Party, a monumental multimedia project symbolizing the achievements of historic women in Western civilization, has been seen by more than one million people during its 16 exhibitions held at venues in six countries. The Dinner Party was recently acquired by the Brooklyn Museum of Art, where it will be the centerpiece of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. Her other projects include the Birth Project, Powerplay, the Holocaust Project: From Darkness Into Light (with husband and photographer Donald Woodman), and Resolutions: A Stitch in Time. Chicago has published ten books and is the recipient of four honorary doctorates and numerous awards and grants. In 1996, the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America in Cambridge, Massachusetts, became the repository for her papers. Chicago lives in Belen, New Mexico, with her husband and their beloved cats.
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Image of The Creation from the Birth Project by Judy Chicago, 1984.
Credit: The Creation from the Birth Project © Judy Chicago 1984, Modified Aubusson Tapestry, 42“ x 14’, Weaving by Audrey Cowan; photo credit: Donald Woodman.