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39 New Guests for Judy Chicago's Dinner Party
Chicago’s ode to women reimagined.
Uncategorized 23 Jan 2019

via Judy Chicago
The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago 
Judy Chicago’s mighty totem of feminism turns 40-years-old this year. The Dinner Party (1974-1979) is a mixed media installation comprised of 39 place settings, needlepoint runners, chalices, cutlery, and fine china. Each of the elaborate place settings represents individual women throughout the history of Western Civilization. The plates reference female anatomy and are intended to be looked at as portraits of the 39 women in “attendance.”
Chicago drew inspiration for the work from personal experience. She realized something one night at a dinner party back in 1974. The group of men and women breaking bread and spilling wine were all academics. The men were dominating the conversation. Suprise, surprise. While the women, who had doctorates on par with (or exceeding) their male colleagues, took the backseat. This led the artist to think about a biblical event: The Last Supper. Women throughout history haven’t had any ‘suppers of salience’ (not until the witches of American Horror Story and Ariana Grande, anyway). No, instead they host/attend dinner parties *cue condescending shoulder pat*.
via Netflix
Image via Netflix
Chicago’s ode to women is not without its controversies. There will always be one or two critics who take issue with dinnerware decorated in vulvas. However, the major point of criticism deals with the triangular banquet table’s “guest list.”  Very few women of color are present at The Dinner Party. The women who are, like Sojourn Truth, are among the only two plates in the collection that don’t depict vulvar imagery. Chicago’s creative decisions led to women like Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, to critique the “feminist” artist and her work. Walker cited its lack of diversity. TheArtGorgeous has decided to re-imagine a diverse and justly modernized Dinner Party 2.0 adding 39 new guests (in no particular order) to the soirée:
Portrait of Malala Yousafazi by Shirin Neshat
Portrait of Malala Yousafzai by Shirin Neshat (also featured on the guest list)

1.) Malala Yousafzai:

The 21-year-old Pakistani activist for human rights and female education is the youngest Nobel Prize laureate.  
Portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald
Portrait of Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald

2.) Michelle Obama:

The first African-American First Lady in U.S. history. Obama advocated for the health and wellness of the country’s youth through access to healthy, affordable food.

3.) J.K. Rowling:

The ‘rags to riches’ writer conjured up the magical world of Harry Potter and became one of the world’s first billionaire authors. She dropped off the list of billionaires after donating millions of dollars to charity.

4.) Sandra Day O’Connor*  [*All the female Supreme Court Justices, but Sandra Day O’Connor was the first]:

Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court in U.S. History. She resolved to protect Roe v. Wade and provided the vote that was needed to uphold the court’s previous ruling.
via tumblr
Image of Ina Garten via Tumblr

5.) Ina Garten:
The Barefoot Contessa is a goddess of the culinary world. Before Garten’s ascension to Contessa, she got her pilot’s license and was a chief analyst for the White House’s nuclear energy budget. NBD.

6.) Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid:

Queen of the Curve,’ Zaha Hadid left her mark on the world with architectural feats across the globe. Hadid’s body of work includes projects like London’s aquatic center for the London 2012 Olympics and Italy’s MAXXI museum.  

7.) Carolina Herrera:

The Venezuelan fashion designer and octogenarian has dressed first ladies from Jackie O to Michelle Obama. Herrera has graced the cover of Vogue seven times and was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

8.) Princess Diana:

Princess Diana was loved by millions. As a member of the Royal Family, Lady Di was an unapologetic vanguard. She shook the hands of HIV/AIDS patients at a time when fear and ignorance stigmatized people with the illness. Moreover, ‘the People’s Princess’ walked across active minefields to raise awareness and call for an international band on the use of landmines.
via janegoodall.org
Image of Dame Jane Goodall via janegoodall.org

9.) Dame Jane Goodall:

Goodall has devoted her life to conversation and animal welfare issues. In 2002, she was named a UN Messenger of Peace for her dedication to several nonhuman rights causes.

10.) bell hooks:

As a Black feminist, hooks has continually challenged and pushed back on ‘popular feminism.’ She has articulated the concept of intersectionality, whereby feminism should be critiqued not solely on gender but on race, class, and sex, etc.  

11.) Larisa Latynina:

The Ukrainian-born gymnast holds the record for most Olympic gold medals by a gymnast, both male and female. Latynina held the record for most Olympic medals out of any athlete and any sport until Michael Phelps surpassed her in the London 2012 Olympic Games.

12.) Corazon Aquino:

Corazon Aquino was the 11th President of Philippines serving as the first female president in both the country and continent of Asia. Aquino went from housewife to politician after the assassination of her husband Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. As president, she was dedicated to civil liberties and human rights. Today, Aquino is celebrated for her commitment to international diplomacy and is considered the ‘Mother of Asian and Philippine Democracy’ by her peers.     

13.) Shonda Rhimes:

Rhimes is an award-winning writer, director, producer of several hit TV shows. Her critical success has had a remarkable impact on female and minority representation in television and film entertainment.

14.) Oprah:

Obviously, Oprah is going to have a seat at this table. The self-made, American media tycoon is North America’s first black multi-billionaire and is ranked the greatest black philanthropist in American history. Oprah’s accomplishments in multiple pursuits merit the question: is there anything she can’t do? See you in 2020.
via Business Insider
Image of Ada Hegerberg via Business Insider

15.) Ada Hegerberg:

The talented Norwegian professional football player was the first-ever recipient of the Ballon d’Or Féminin – the women’s football equivalent of the Ballon d’Or awarded to the best player in Men’s FIFA.

16.) Serena Williams:

The Serena Williams name has become synonymous with the sport of tennis. She’s the highest paid female athlete in the world and holds the most Grand Slam titles out of any active player, male or female, in tennis.

17.) Aretha Franklin:

‘The Queen of Soul,’ was the first female performer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As a singer, Franklin deserves mad R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Her voice was declared a ‘natural resource’ by the state of Michigan in 1985 and she earned a Presidential Medal of Freedom for her talent.  

18.) Marianne Brandt:

Marianne Brandt was a force to be reckoned with during the days of the Bauhaus. Brandt fought her way into the ‘sexed’ metal workshop and became one of the Bauhaus’s most successful metal sculptors/designers.

19.) Rep. Debra Haaland of New Mexico:

U.S. Representative Debra Haaland, along with Rep. Sharice Davids [also attending this 2019 Dinner Party reboot], became the first two Native American women elected to Congress. The New Mexican politician is dedicated to bettering the country with renewable energy resources and medical care for all.

20.) Laverne Cox:

The Emmy-nominated actress and LGBTQ+ activist garnered attention for her role in Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, television series. Cox is an openly transgender woman of color and her performance on the show made her the first openly trans woman of color to have a leading role on a scripted television series. Her successful career and advocacy continue to break down barriers into mainstream culture for the Trans community.

21.) Katherine Johnson:

Katherine Johnson is an African-American mathematician who worked for NASA during the height of the ‘Space Race.’ Johnson’s calculations were instrumental in launching the first U.S. astronaut into space and for the 1969 Moon landing. As both a woman and person of color in STEM, Graham’s valiant efforts in the face of adversity were recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.  

22.) Meryl Streep:

Meryl Streep’s talents as a thespian have led many to call her the best actress of her generation. Streep holds a record 21 Academy Award nominations, more than any other actress or actor in history.  
via the Wall Street Journal
Image of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie via The Wall Street Journal

23.) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie a critically acclaimed Nigerian novelist and writer. Through her writing, Adichie has earned a MacArthur Genius Grant. Moreover, Adichie’s feminist essay titled ‘We Should All Be Feminists,’ was distributed to every 16-year-old student in the country of Sweden back in 2015…Damn.

24.) Katherine Graham:

Katherine Graham was an American publisher and businesswoman. She took the helm of her family’s newspaper, The Washington Post. Graham resolved to preserve the tenets of journalism and guided the American daily through the storm of the Watergate Scandal, which ended Richard Nixon’s presidency. On top of toppling a crooked Prez, Graham was the second female publisher of a major American newspaper. Oh, she was also the first woman to be named under Fortune’s 500 CEOs list. Again, NBD.   

25.) Francoise Barré-Sinoussi:

The French virologist discovered the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as the cause of AIDs. Barré-Sinoussi’s contributions to science earned her a Nobel Peace Prize for Medicine in 2008.

26.) Gloria Steinem:

Steinem, a self-described ‘radical feminist,’ has paved the way for 21st-century feminism via her outspoken activism in the name of women’s rights.   

27.) Condoleezza Rice:

Condoleezza Rice was the first African-American woman, and the second woman, to serve as the U.S. Secretary of State. In addition to Rice’s contributions to the diplomatic community, she has performed alongside Yo-Yo Ma, serves on the Board of Directors of DropBox, and continues to teach at Stanford University.
28.) Ava DuVernay:
Ava DuVernay is a writer, director, producer and the first African-American woman to earn an Academy Award nomination for best director. DuVernay’s movies and documentaries like ‘Selma’ and ‘13th’ have shed light on historical issues that have reinforced inequitable systems within society. Systems that continue to disenfranchise Black Americans.  

29.) Rei Kawakubo:

Japanese fashion designer, Rei Kawakubo, is probably best known for founding the Comme des Garcons label. Kawakubo is a self-taught designer and champion of the avant-garde. Her unique aesthetic vision has been celebrated by the fashion community and was the subject of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2017 costume exhibit.
via the New York Times
Image of Katherine Switzer being attacked by Jock Semple via The New York Times

30.) Kathrine Switzer:

Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to run the historic Boston Marathon in 1967. Photographs from the race made headlines across the globe when race official, Jock Semple, attempted to stop Switzer in her path.  

31.) Mindy Kaling:

Mindy Kaling is a first generation Indian-American actress, comedian, writer, producer, and director. Kaling’s successes as a comedy writer have led to awards, New York Times bestsellers, and her own scripted-series. She is without a doubt a pioneer for Indian women in American entertainment.

32.) Billie Jean King:

Billie Jean King isn’t just a former #1 professional tennis player. She is a social activist for women, beating Bobby Riggs in the notorious 1973 Battle of the Sexes, and for the LGBTQ+ community. Her push for gender equality in sports was acknowledged by the USTA, which renamed the nation’s tennis center in 2006 as a dedication to King.   
via SFGate
Image of Chloe Kim via SFGate

33.) Chloe Kim:
Chloe Kim shattered records in the sport of women’s snowboarding at the 2018 Winter Olympics. The Cali-native became the youngest woman to win an Olympic snowboarding medal when she landed gold in the women’s halfpipe competition.
34.) Carol Burnett:

Carol Burnett has been recognized for her extensive career in television as a woman in comedy. The comedian rose to prominence with her groundbreaking variety show, ‘The Carol Burnett Show.’ In 2018, Burnett became the first person ever to receive the Peabody for Career Achievement.      
via ABC
Image of Jacinda Ardern via ABC

35.) Jacinda Ardern:
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern currently serves as New Zealand’s 40th head of government. She’s the first female/world leader in history to bring an infant to the UN general assembly. Not to mention she gave birth to her son while he in office and took six weeks of maternity leave. She is a symbol of how women’s work/life balance should not be the subject of traditional criticism.

36.) Shirin Neshat:

Shirin Neshat’s body of work compares and contrasts the relationship between Islam and ‘the West.’ The Iranian artist primarily works with film and photography to create meaningful pieces of art.
via Out
Image of Sharice Davids via Out.com

37.) Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas:

U.S. Representative Sharice Davids, as previously mentioned, is the first of two Native American women elected to Congress. Davids’s the first openly gay and LGBTQ+ member of Congress from the state of Kansas. Outside of the political arena, Davids is also a former professional mixed martial artist.

38.) Dolly Parton:

Dolly Parton is a country music institution. The ‘9 to 5’ singer has received 46 Grammy nominations, the National Medal of Arts, two Academy Awards, a Tony award, and a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Moreover, Parton’s ‘Dollywood Foundation,’ has distributed over 110,000,000 million books to children worldwide.   

39.) ?:

The 39th seat at this re-imagined dinner party is left for you, the reader, to fill.
The last of the place setting is left open-ended. Its incomplete nature attempts to articulate that ‘The Dinner Party,’ doesn’t have to be static. Instead, the feminist work of art can represent the persistence of women throughout living history – past, present, and future. The Dinner Party remains on view in the Brooklyn Museum’s private collection. Go check it out! 

Text by Mac McDonough

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