UCLA Spotlight


Judy Chicago, Artist

  • By Mark Davis
  • Published Mar 1, 2001 8:00 AM

A childhood love of art led Judy Cohen to UCLA's art program. She earned her bachelor's degree in 1962 and her master of arts in 1964. Rechristened "Judy Chicago" by a gallery owner because of her Windy City accent, she quickly established a name for herself as a contemporary artist, showing her work at numerous local venues.

Chicago also began teaching at the California Institute for the Arts, where she helped establish the Feminist Art Program. Out of this grew 1971's Womanhouse, a breakthrough collaborative installation that demonstrated a wholly female point of view in art in its transformation of an old Los Angeles house into a metaphor for women's captivity in the home.

She continued her collaborative efforts in the '70s, founding a feminist studio workshop at the Womens Building in Los Angeles, where she began work on the world-renowned group project, The Dinner Party. The ambitious artwork, which Chicago humorously called a "reinterpretation of The Last Supper from the point of view of those who've done the cooking throughout history," consists of a triangular table, 48 feet long on each side, with complete place settings for 39 women who have been "forgotten by history." In the course of 15 major exhibitions in six countries, The Dinner Party was seen by a million people, and has since spawned a documentary and three books.

Over the last two decades, Chicago has continued to produce provocative feminist and socially conscious works of art, including The Birth Project and The Holocaust Project, the latter of which grew out of her and her husband's exploration of their Jewish heritage.

Her latest exhibit, Resolutions: A Stitch in Time, opened in 2000 and will continue through April 2001 at the Skirball Cultural Center, just a few miles away from the UCLA campus. The project is yet another collaborative effort, combining the painting and needlework of several artists to create a series of images that reinterpret traditional proverbs and wisdom.

Chicago also heads the nonprofit arts organization, "Through the Flower," which seeks to preserve and perpetuate the feminist consciousness of her art. She is also a 1999 recipient of the UCLA Alumni Association's Professional Achievement Award.

Judy Chicago still heads "Through the Flower", continues to create, and has published two more books: "Fragments from the Delta of Venus" 2004, and "Kitty City: A Feline Book of Hours" 2005. - (Updated 1/07)