The Dinner Party By Judy Chicago

A Poor Example of Installation Art

   Or, The Little Girl Who Had to Be Outrageous to be Noticed

A triangle of equal sides, each side 48 feet long

and 4 feet wide. On each side, 13 place settings

totally 39, each with the name of a woman who

had made a significant contribution to the world.

The triangle has been placed on a floor with 989

names of other women who have made contributions.  

It took six years to construct, the labor of over 400

people, many volunteers and at a cost of $250,000. 

It should be a celebrated work of art but the problem

comes with the dinner plates constructed as ceramic

female genitalia. Emily Dickinson’s plate, for example

is a multi-tiered pink lace crotch; the only black

Sojourner Truth’s is not a vagina but a three-faced

ceramic supposedly symbolic of castration.

To represent a woman as a body part is not humorous

although it gets some laughs probably because scatological

symbols do, or maybe because it is rather ludicrous.

There is the almost valid excuse that anger makes one

do strange things and sometimes things get out of control

but there is little excuse for an artist who in making a name

for herself becomes outrageous.