Art Activism Update #3

Hello everyone!

I finally finished my research paper, yay! I still have a bit to do in terms of proofreading and editing, but other than those minor adjustments I’m done. Today I thought I would talk a little bit about feminist art activism, as a sort of a preview on what my paper is all about.

The American feminist movement started in the late 19th century, but feminist art activism didn’t really pick up steam until the 1960s and 1970s. This period of time was known as the second wave of feminism, where women had basic rights and Constitutional protections (such as voting rights) but culturally and legally were still far behind men in society. Feminist art activists tried to communicate the female experience through art, and made pieces that highlighted the hidden contributions of women to history and showed the pain that sexism had caused them. The art world at this time was very elitist – women were frequently denied gallery spaces or participation in exhibitions due to their sex. Men dominated artistic spaces, using primarily traditional fine-art media such as painting, drawing, and sculpture. Not only did female artists wish to change this “boy’s club” culture, they also sought to expand the definition of what constituted fine art to materials typically used by women and considered lower forms of media.

Judy Chicago was one such feminist art activist who operated during this period. She was a highly influential artist as well as feminist educator and art critic (not to mention one of my personal favorite artists discussed in this paper). Her pinnacle piece was called The Dinner Party, made in the late 1970s. The Dinner Party was a triangular dinner table with 39 place settings, each of which represented a famous female figure from history and mythology. Another 999 women have their names on written on porcelain floor tiles around the table. Chicago used ceramics, embroidery, quilting, and weaving, all of which were traditionally associated with female production. Here’s a picture of this piece:

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If you thought this was interesting, then look for my final blog post! I’ll try to include a link to the paper in its entirety there. Thanks for reading!

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