Wednesday, 27 November 2013

an open letter to my creative heroine

An open letter of gratitude to my creative heroine, feminist artist, Judy Chicago, creator of The Dinner Party, 1974-1979.

To Ms. Judy Chicago,

I just discovered the other day that you will turn 75 this coming year.  I was quite pleased to hear that there is still a chance for me to say to you, thank you.

Although you don’t know me, your art has been part of my life for a long time.  I first discovered The Dinner Party studying art history at university in the spring of 1990. I had spent my first three years reading great literature and admiring great art created mostly by men, so when I finally came upon The Dinner Party, a piece that celebrated women’s art and women’s place in history, I woke up.  Profoundly woke up.

As a young twenty year old, desperately trying to find her purpose and artistic voice, I found strength and power in the 39 place settings at your triangular table. The more I studied the various plates, and the more I studied the lives and history of the women you celebrate, the more I could see a small reflection of my own personal transformation struggling to surface from each plate.

For creating such profound pieces that stirred my awakening, thank you.  

As a new mother in my early thirties, I found a birthing power in The Dinner Party.  Spending time with women--sharing stories, celebrating pregnancies, and blessing births—became vital to my spirit, and my appreciation for The Dinner Party grew. It was so clever of you to use the table as a gathering place for women to share their stories and their history.

For creating art that celebrates the power of women’s bodies to birth art, and for creating art that encourages women to celebrate and support each other, thank you.

And now as I am well into my forties, The Dinner Party feels like an old friend. No longer is it a piece of art I study, but rather one that calls me to create. These days I ponder the heritage floor with all those names of women in history, and I feel part of a something much greater than myself.  I think about the continuity the women on the floor share with the women who have a place at the table above. I think about the continuity from you to me, from me to my daughters, from my daughters to future girls who will grow into creative women, and it feels so right to be part of this table.  To know myself, to know why I am where I am and what I can give is a good place to be.

For creating art that still holds so much life, thank you.

Your creative spirit, I cherish.

Thank you, thank you,
Nicki Wilkins
(one of your creative daughters)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Nicki, I need to go check out The Dinner Party, I have come across Judy's work through her interview in Birthing From Within, but not seen The Dinner Party - it sounds powerful.