Van Gogh •
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Born Judy Cohen in Chicago, Illinois, Judy Chicago is a sculptor, painter, and multimedia artist who has worked mainly in California.
Her work has been closely associated with a phase of the feminist movement that began having a powerful impact on both American and global culture in the 1970's. From 1960 to 1964, she studied at the University of California at Los Angeles. At Fresno, she helped launch the first feminist art course in the United States. Along with Miriam Schapiro, Chicago co-founded the influential Feminist Art Program at the California Institute of the Arts at Valencia. Chicago has been interested in revisiting the aesthetic and practical techniques with which women have traditionally been associated - weaving, quilting, needlework, etc. - with the intention of freeing these from such dismissive categories as "folk art" and "craft," which diminish their power and importance.
"Collaboration" is an essential element in many such traditionally feminine arts, and it has played an important role in Chicago's work. For example, her "The Dinner Party" installation (1974-1979) of a triangular banquet table, 48 feet long on each side, with 39 place settings, invited the contribution of many women artists. Each of these settings represented the contributions to the history of Western civilization of a number of important women, either historical or mythical. The table, moreover, stood on a large tile floor, and inscribed on each tile were the names of other important women. The installation traveled widely, sparking lively debate about feminist art. In more recent works, Chicago has explored similar feminist issues, and in 1980, in collaboration with her husband Donald Woodman, she began working on "The Holocaust Project", completed in 1993, which featured a collection of art objects exploring the significance of the Holocaust in the context of the traditionally feminine sensibilities of compassion and care. Other works include "The Birth Project" (1985) and "Through the Flower: My Struggle as a Woman Artist" (1975).