The Dinner Party: 9-3 2018
The Dinner Party stands out among feminist art as one of the greatest pieces of the twentieth century. It was created by Judy Chicago and many volunteers who hoped to make waves with the piece. The Dinner Party is a work of art that commemorates female achievement and greatness by honoring many feminine aspects and great women. The installation is a large triangular table set with 39 place settings of women that Chicago felt contributed to the betterment of humankind, and the table rest upon the names of 999 other women written on porcelain tiles.
Each place setting attempts to capture the essence of the women, display her time period and cultural influences, and display her achievements. The Dinner Party focuses mainly on female reclamation and celebration on a gender wide level, mainly by celebrating female anatomy. By presenting the anatomy at the forefront of the exhibit, Chicago effectively turns the idea that women are defined by their genitals on its head. As most place settings share this commonality, The Dinner Party explores the different ways these women were authentically feminine, whether it parallels conventional constructs of what it means to be female or not.
Here in the Notre Dame freshman class, we decided to challenge ourselves to create our own Dinner Party based on our own current conventions and women that inspired us. With the rising of LGBT rights and female rights, we looked to redefine and continue a conversation about, “What does it mean to be a woman?” The Dinner Party does an excellent job at celebrating women, but can its ideals be broadened or expanded? These were the types of questions students asked themselves when analyzing the installation and deliberating on their own selections.
For the Dinner Party project at Notre Dame, students were allowed to choose any woman who was not featured already at The Dinner Party, and create a place setting for said woman, consisting of a plate and a runner. No other stipulations were in place, these parameters encouraged students to fully explore the woman they selected and portray her however the student saw fit. This project was an incredible way to ask real world questions and develop philosophy on gender, feminism, and society. The students displayed immense creative skill and intelligence in their selections as well as their execution of the place setting. The project was designed to allow students to question the limitations of The Dinner Party, and to incorporate their own unique touch. We are proud to present Notre Dame’s freshman Class of 2021 Dinner Party.
“I am trying to make art that relates to the deepest and most mythic concerns of humankind and I believe that, at this moment of history, feminism is humanism.” -Judy Chicago
Homepage by Devon Neville and Brigid McCabe