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Judy Chicago
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    (July 20, 1939- )
    Born in Chicago, Illinois
    Birth name was Judith Sylvia Cohen
    Known for large-scale art installations
    Notable works include ‘The Dinner Party’ (1979), ‘The Birth Project’ (1985), ‘Powerplay’ (1987), ‘The Holocaust Project’ (1993) and ‘Resolutions: A Stitch in Time’ (2000)
    She got the nickname ‘Judy Chicago’ from her thick Chicago accent.
    When she decided to legally change her name, she celebrated by posing as a boxer wearing a sweatshirt reading ‘Judy Chicago.’
    She actually uses the word ‘herstory’ when talking about women’s history.
    Some of her installations are so large that it is difficult to find places to display them.
    Despite a long and varied career, she tends to be remembered only for ‘The Dinner Party.’
    One critic said of her 70s works, ‘’The vaginal imagery was blatant, like a Georgia O’Keeffe flower that stopped pretending to be a flower.’
    When she was six, an FBI agent tried to question her about her father’s Marxist activities. (He quit his interrogation when her mother returned home.)
    Early in her career, a male art critic told her, ‘You know, Judy, you have to decide whether you’re going to be a woman or an artist.’
    She has always acknowledged her collaborators. (‘Henry Moore had hundreds of assistants… but when he was interviewed, he made them leave while he jumped in front of the best sculpture in the room.’)
    ’The Dinner Party’ – a triangular table with place settings for 39 women from history and myth – was partially inspired by a UCLA historian who told her class that he would discuss women’s contributions to Western thought on the last day of the semester. When the day came, he announced, ‘Women's contributions to European intellectual history? They made none.’
    She is versatile, having worked in watercolor, oil paints, airbrushing, embroidery, porcelain, stained glass, fireworks and performance art.
    She told a fellow artist worried about the critics, ‘I’ve probably gotten the worst reviews of any human being on the planet. And here I am, walking and talking.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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