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Judy Chicago and Jane Gerhard in Conversation about Art Education and Popular Feminism

Join the pioneering feminist artist Judy Chicago, the historian Jane Gerhard, and the Schlesinger Library director, Nancy F. Cott, for a lively discussion on feminist space, The Dinner Party controversy, a critique of studio art education, and more.

This event is being presented in conjunction with the exhibit Judy Chicago: Through the Archives at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute, which is home to the major collection of Judy Chicago Papers. The exhibit is open through September 25, 2014, Monday–Friday, from 9 a.m.–5 p.m.


Judy Chicago is an artist, author, feminist, educator, and intellectual whose career now spans five decades. Her influence both within and beyond the art community is attested to by her inclusion in hundreds of publications throughout the world. Her art has been frequently exhibited in the United States as well as in Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, and New Zealand. In addition, many of her books have been published in foreign editions, bringing her art and philosophy to readers worldwide.

During her career, Chicago has remained steadfast in her commitment to the power of art as a vehicle for intellectual transformation and social change and to women’s right to engage in the highest level of art production. As a result, she has become a symbol for people everywhere, known and respected as a humanist whose work and life are models for an enlarged definition of art, an expanded role for the artist, and women’s right to freedom of expression. 

Jane Gerhard earned her PhD in American studies at Brown University with a specialty in women’s and gender history, history of sexuality, and 20th-century American culture. Her first book, Desiring Revolution: Second-Wave Feminism and the Rewriting of American Sexual Thought, 1920 to 1982, examines 1970s feminists’ interest in sexuality and their engagement not only with the major thinkers in the study of sex in the 20th century—such as Freud, Kinsey, Masters and Johnson—but also with the counterculture and its broad reshaping of sexual pleasure.

Her newest book, The Dinner Party: Judy Chicago and the Power of Popular Feminism, 1970–2007, traces the making of Judy Chicago’s iconic piece of feminist art, the visible and invisible feminist infrastructure that supported and produced the work, and its controversial tour. The Dinner Party, debated on the floor of the US House of Representatives in 1990 as pornography, found a permanent home at the Brooklyn Museum in 2007, where it continues to attract large audiences. In addition, Gerhard is a coauthor of a US women’s history textbook, Women and the Making of America

The event will also feature Performing the Archive, a piece directed by Lelaina Vogel ’15, a psychology concentrator who has acted in many performances at Harvard University, including Radcliffe Institute fellow David Levine’s Character Analysis. She made her directorial debut in 2013, with The Most Massive Woman Wins.