What We Feel and What We Mean
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Invited to the Dinner Party at the Brooklyn Museum

In my opinion, one of the most impressive and memorable artworks at the Brooklyn Museum was The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago. It is considered an icon of feminist art, representing 1,038 women in history, with 39 women represented by place settings and another 999 represented by their inscribed name in the Heritage Floor. I was also impressed on how well kept it was despite its creation 32 years ago, in 1979. One would have to go see it for him or her to truly appreciate this masterpiece.

Before I even entered the isolated room of The Dinner Party, I noticed six woven banners hanging in procession. I thought it was a great way to introduce visitors to it. They consisted of the red, black, and gold tones and common motifs in the actual work such as triangular, floral and abstracted butterfly forms. On the banners, a series of phrases were woven into it, to convey Chicago’s vision for an equalized world of the genders.

Below are four of the six woven banners:





Afterwards, I entered the room to see the principal component of The Dinner Party, a massive ceremonial banquet arranged in the shape of an open equilateral triangle- a symbol of equality- measuring 48 feet on each side.  I was struck by the grandeur of piece, and the focused lighting made the artwork that much more heavenly. The way the “guests of honor” were commemorated on the table was so extravagant, each place setting with intricately embroidered runners, a gold ceramic chalice and utensils, a napkin with an embroidered edge, and the most appealing, the china-painted plate. The first place setting I saw was the Primordial Goddess:

I did not think much of the colors and design on the plates until I continued walking around the triangular table. I realized that the place settings were placed in chronological order and the design on the plates was getting more graphic as we climbed upwards the historical ladder.  I was taken back a little when I saw Caroline Herschel’s plate, the first one I saw that literally popped out. I had no idea that what I was about to see as I proceeded would be even more intense- that being a way to put it.

Here is Caroline Herschel’s plate:

I started wondering and convincing myself that these are vulvar forms on the plates. It made sense being that a female’s vulva is the main distinction between the sexes and a symbol of femininity. I thought it was very clever how Chicago decided to make every succeeding plate more protrusive, to show that women are breaking out and taking more control for themselves. They are getting more rebellious as I sensed from the plates. Honestly,  I was a little freaked out, maybe even a little disturbed, even though I am a woman myself to see female genitalia expressed this way.

Below is Virginia Woolf’s plate- notice how much more ‘swollen’ the ‘vulva’ has become compared to Herschel’s:

I felt sympathy for accomplished women after seeing The Dinner Party because I know women in history would have never been truly able to celebrate their achievements, especially in the form of such a fancy dinner party. It is upsetting that women were looked down upon when they fought so hard, perhaps even harder than men, to have the same status as the rest of society. I’m happy to see that women are increasingly more recognized as years go on, and that women’s history and perspectives are being integrated in almost all aspects of human civilization.

(Note: I was the photographer for all of the photos shown above.)


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