Judy Chicago founded Through the Flower, an influential educational non-profit organization, in 1978. Over the years, Through the Flower has grown into a substantial resource and research center, dedicated to ensuring Chicago’s vision that women’s achievements will become a permanent part of our cultural heritage. Chicago’s legacy as an artist is inseparable from her pioneering role in Feminist art and education.
The Dinner Party symbolically expressed one of Judy Chicago’s primary goals, overcoming the erasure of women’s achievements. This monumental history of women in Western civilization is now permanently housed at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum. But The Dinner Party is only one work in Chicago’s prodigious career and making sure that a range of her work is available for future generations has also been an important aim.
The Legacy of Through the Flower
Since 1978, Through the Flower has played an important role in communicating the many aspects of Judy Chicago's work to as wide and varied an audience as possible, while also serving as a resource center. And, thanks to the support of our friends, our small organization has created a lasting historic legacy.
- Touring The Dinner Party around the world to a viewing audience of over one million people and caring for it until its permanent housing was achieved
- Touring and archiving the International Honor Quilt project
- Sponsoring touring to over 100 venues and permanently placing selections from the Birth Project
- Sponsoring and touring the Holocaust Project: From Darkness into Light
- Providing support for Resolutions: A Stitch in Time
- Establishing the New Mexico Women’s Cultural Corridor linking sites of various women in the state
- Launching the K-12 Dinner Party Curriculum Project, and gifting and supporting its in-perpetuity online existence at Penn State University
- Supporting an assistantship for the Judy Chicago Art Education Archives at Penn State University
- Supporting The Dinner Party Institute at Kutztown University from 2011 to 2015
- Providing support for the Minx Auerbach Award for Excellence in Education 2010–2013
- Establishing the Judy Chicago Education Award in partnership with Penn State School of Visual Arts
- Gifting the International Honor Quilt to the University of Louisville and its Allen R. Hite Art Institute
- Serving as a resource center where researchers can view works drawn from Judy Chicago's participatory art projects, as well as supplementary videos and DVDs.
- Gifting documentary materials relating to The Dinner Party and Resolutions: A Stitch in Time to the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
Now we need your help in order to ensure that this legacy—which counters the erasure of women’s achievements—can exist into the future. Help us to preserve all that has been accomplished, through membership, tax-deductible donations and/or bequests by will. Your contribution will preserve this history and extend it into the future.
Judy Chicago and Penn State
Other facets of Judy Chicago’s legacy evolving from the Judy Chicago Art Education Collection at Penn State include:
Penn State held a celebration of Chicago's Art Education archive throughout the spring semester of 2014, timed to coincide with her 75th birthday. The events at Penn State concluded with a weekend-long symposium at which Judy Chicago delivered a timely, call-to-action lecture based on her book, Institutional Time: A Critique of Studio Art Education. The Judy Chicago Dialogue Portal, born out of this symposium, was launched on Sept 15th, 2014 as part of Chicago’s online art education archive. By publishing videos from the symposium along with questions, press releases and suggested reading, the Portal is intended to generate dialogue about studio art education. The Portal will serve as a world –wide forum for art educators and artists to participate in discourse about the future of art education at all levels.
Part 1: An Invitation from Judy Chicago (September 2014) features a video of Chicago's Penn State lecture, along with discussion questions formulated by her, a video compilation of her teaching and a multimedia presentation by Dr. Karen Keifer-Boyd analyzing Chicago's pedagogy.
Part 2: Difference in Studio Art Teaching: Applying Judy Chicago’s Pedagogical Principles (December 2014) highlights projects utilizing Judy Chicago’s Art Education Archives and the application of her teaching pedagogy as implemented by Keifer-Boyd and Nancy Youdelman in their spring 2014 project course which culminated in a provocative exhibition created by the participants. Other symposium talks are included along with interview footage by Chicago of Keifer-Boyd and Youdelman who was a student in Chicago’s ground-breaking feminist art program.
Part 3: What About Men? (September 2015) addresses the often contentious subject of men in a feminist environment and takes up some of the challenges of making institutional changes in terms of curriculum. Part 3 features and is inspired by the 2014 symposium talks by photographer Donald Woodman and Andrew Perchuk, deputy director of the Getty Research Institute.
Part 4: Transforming Curriculum (February 2016) showcases two symposium presentations: Andrew Perchuk’s lecture “You Say You Want a Revolution: Feminist Art in Southern California,” and sculptor Bill Catling’s presentation about how to achieve a radical transformation in arts education in both policy and curriculum. Part 4 also includes Judy Chicago’s interviews with Perchuk and Catling along with pertinent discussion questions.
Judy Chicago invites portal readers to dialogue with her about studio art education by responding to the six questions in each of the four sections of the Dialogue Portal. Introduce yourself in relation to art education (e.g., student, teacher, artist) and share your perspectives in relation to others’ posts.
Penn State School of Visual Arts and the Board of Through the Flower have established the Judy Chicago Art Education Award in honor of Judy Chicago and her pioneering work as artist and educator. The award will be given to outstanding educators who have developed projects related to principles embodied in The Dinner Party Curriculum or other aspects of the Judy Chicago Art Education Collection, and which further the goals of The Dinner Party. Chicago’s archives and the Curriculum offer teachers the opportunity to apply Chicago’s content-based art pedagogy in order to create art that educates, inspires and empowers students.
Why Not Judy Chicago? Reflections
As a follow up to Penn State’s 2011 acquisition of the Judy Chicago Art Education Archives, and subsequent major events at Penn State relating to Judy Chicago, Barbara Dewey, Dean of University Libraries & Scholarly Communications at Penn State, attended the exhibition of Why Not Judy Chicago?held at the Azkuna Zentroa in Bilbao, Spain. Click here for her reflections on this groundbreaking exhibition and the related events, as well as the potential for future projects.
How Art Can Inspire
Through the Flower is proud of our legacy in sponsoring and supporting projects showing the importance of art and its role in countering the erasure of women’s achievements in history. But another part of this legacy is the power of art to inspire such action that has far-reaching effects. This section of our website will regularly feature such stories; we hope that our members and supporters will contribute their stories to this section as well.
The Judy Chicago Art Education Collection continues to inspire researchers and educators in many ways. Angelique Szymanek, 2015 recipient of an award sponsored by the Special Collections Library to travel to Penn State to research the Collection, focused her research on the relationship between feminist art production and the anti-rape movement in the US throughout the 1970s. Chicago's feminist pedagogy, she claims, was one of the conditions of possibility for the artistic engagement with the subject of rape throughout the 1970s. Her presentations on this led to a lively and varied perspective discussion with the students.
Leslie Sotomayer used the Special Collections archive and the embedded videos with her class, assigning students to continue researching the Collection and to choose one piece to write a critical analysis/reflection of the feminist art piece, bridging connections from Judy Chicago’s art pieces to the present. Click here for her reflections from the field.
The Collection also inspires research by visitors from outside the US. A professor from Beijing Normal University, Yuxi Chen, is a full year visiting scholar at Penn State in 2015-16, who came to research Judy Chicago’s teaching methodology, working with the archive to bring back to the context of China art education. She is particularly interested in Chinese art students bringing their life experiences and ideas into their art in such a way that they move beyond the personal and into a larger frame of reference, and is studying the archives to learn Chicago’s approach for how to do this. Recently, two curators from Cuba, visited the archives to examine Womanhouse, also part of the Collection.
Behind the scenes, Yen-Ju Lin preserves and protects the Judy Chicago Art Education Collection website with installing "Brute Force Login Protection, a software to “block out brute force attacks.” This is the language of today’s digital world and women, such as Yen-Ju Lin, have learned how to stop attacks to feminist art education, allowing the Collection site to grow with from the field reflections, from annual updates of award-winning curriculum of the Judy Chicago Art Education Award, with deadline for submissions, February 1, 2016), from dialogue in the Dialogue Portal, and with news updates.
Judy Chicago's Internship Program
Another facet of Judy Chicago’s legacy is the internship program she initiated after realizing that women still have few opportunities to learn about their artistic heritage as well as what is actually required to be a professional artist. Through this hands-on program, interns learn from behind-the- scenes what it means to bring one’s art into the world, while also becoming more familiar with Judy Chicago’s art and vision.
By working with and participating in the care of an enormous body of work and its documentation on a daily basis, interns gain skills and begin to understand the requirements of a professional career in art, while benefiting from exposure to Judy Chicago, her colleagues and studio and the Through the Flower staff. Activities are varied, but can range from handling and shipping art, to preparing related written and photographic materials for publications and exhibitions, to assisting with ongoing archive projects. Recent work that our interns have accomplished include: preparing digital files for the publication of an upcoming monograph; designing of an exhibition brochure; and gathering and preparing of materials to be sent to the Judy Chicago Visual Archive housed at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
Charlotte Hicks, our most recent intern, reflects on her experiences in Judy Chicago’s internship program. Click here to read her full story.