I bought little notebooks for each of us at the nearest Shopper's Drug Mart before the lecture last Thursday. I like to scratch a few words to help me remember. Allyson Mitchell, the very intelligent, ambitious (and young) curator of "When Women Rule the World: Judy Chicago and Stitch" and its companion show "She will always be younger than us" moderated the panel. Allyson said: "Feminism is always as young as its youngest enthusiasts".
Jenni Sorkin spoke next and reminded us that Judy Chicago had worked in opposition to the current feminist themes of her time like performance and video, choosing instead monumental projects like 'the dinner party' and 'the birth project'. As well, Jenni raised the question of the marginalization of fibre art. With slides she showed that at the same time as the break through feminist collaboration 'Woman House' there was an exhibit of vibrant fibre art taking place nearly next door that has not been remembered in art history, not even feminist art history. Why?
Maura Reilly, respected New York curator and writer about women's art said that she was 'tear-jerked' when she saw the stitched pieces in the two exhibits at the textile museum. She said that she had never seen them together like this before and that the sheer amount of work as well as it's haptic quality affected her greatly.
(Maura Reilly is responsible for finally getting The Dinner Party a permanent home in the Brooklyn Museum in New york and is thus very familiar with Judy Chicago's work.)
When Judy Chicago finally rose to speak she answered Allyson's comment about the monumentality of her work by saying that she opposes ephemeral art by women because it just continues the process of erasure of women artists. Even worse, the women do it to themselves. She had found out that art institutions didn't want to exhibit women's work when she had so much trouble exhibiting 'the dinner party' and 'the birth project'.