Exhibition of the Work of New Mexico Artist Judy Chicago

Greta Chapin McGill - March 5, 2014

"This exhibition is a small intensely personal encounter with the artist."

The National Women’s Art Museum in Washington, DC is hosting an exhibition of iconic New Mexico artist Judy Chicago.  Judy Chicago is the definition of the feminist contemporary American artist.  From her early days in LA she has never compromised her mix of political feminism and art. You cannot think of great American women artists of any ethnic persuasion and not include Judy Chicago. Her work puts the role of women in every social environment under intense scrutiny.  She is bluntly feminist in every aspect of her art.


This exhibition is a small intensely personal encounter with the artist.  It tells every woman's poignant story in  a series of drawings ”Compressed Women who Yearned to be Butterflies”. The series of six drawings is a unique compilation of Chicago’s literary  and visual art.  The  drawings  are embellished with Chicago’s impeccable script.  She writes the words of the six women and forces the viewer to spend time with them in the most intimate way.  One of the panels features the words of Madame DeRonda from feminist Jewish writer George Eliot’s story of Daniel DeRonda.  Published in 1876, The novel had a huge impact on Chicago’s thinking. An influential story of Judaism the words are most compelling.  Seeing these ground breaking visual images with the inscription “...you can never imagine having a man’s force of genius within you and yet to suffer the slavery of being a girl..” make the viewer, whether male or female pause to think of the plight of women throughout time. The title of the works are underscored by the words “...a woman’s heart must be of such a size and no larger else it must be pressed small like Chinese feet..”

The drawings were intended to become lithographs, however the project was terminated by her printer during the proofing stage.  The termination of the work becomes a part of the work.  The plates for the completion of the work were destroyed by the printer.  The story of the destruction of the work is told in Chicago’s immaculate script on the pieces.  The idea of the work envelopes the viewer and gives one an insight into an artist mind.  Feeling the emotion of the lose of the work is expressed by Chicago in terms that speak directly to her feminist ideals.   Also included in the show is a test plate “Virginia Woolf” from her one of her most famous projects,“The Dinner Party” ,currently on permanent display at the Elizabeth Sackler Gallery for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum.

The exhibition celebrates New Mexico artist Judy Chicago’s 75th birthday.  It includes thirteen of the artists works including the series “Compressed Women who Yearned to be Butterflies” and will be at the National Women’s Art Museum through April.  The National Women’s Art Museum is visually one of the most beautiful museums in the world and the Chicago exhibit is featured in an intimate gallery perfect for spending time reading and viewing this intense show.