Francesca S. DeBiaso '12, Gettysburg College
Shannon Egan, Gettysburg College
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When I was a first year student sitting in the art history classroom of Professor Carol Small’s introductory survey course in the fall of 2008, Creation of the World #7 was on display in a large Plexiglas case along with the work’s documentation panels. At first, Creation of the World #7 seemed unimpressive and bland. The dim room, the text-heavy panels and the dusty case did not inspire close examination of the work. When I eventually approached it, I realized that it was a birthing scene and the result of a national art-making endeavor advanced by feminist art pioneer Judy Chicago.
As I continued to have more art history courses in that room, I was always tickled by the fact that my peers were unknowingly faced with a two breasts and a birthing vagina on a daily basis. Although the anatomy is delicately embroidered as painterly strokes of warm blended colors with whimsical creatures, the scene does graphically express the physical and emotional strife of labor. The work is accompanied by documentation panels used by Chicago to offer viewers a more in-depth understanding of the art-making process, the participants’ creative processes and their personal lives, as well as ethereal and temporal interpretations of birthing and mothering.
For my senior capstone project, I comprehensively researched the legacy of Judy Chicago and sought to bring awareness to the two Birth Project works in Gettysburg College’s collection. The thesis paper, entitled “Judy Chicago: Visions for Feminist Art,” was an opportunity to document and honor the presence of these works on campus and place them in a larger context of feminist art history. From the onset, it was my hope to curate an exhibition of the works. When I met with Chicago in the spring of 2012, her great dislike of the detached and cold “specimen-like” display of the works also prompted me to consider alternative options for the display and care of the Creation of the World #7 and Birth #4. [excerpt]
Schmucker Art Gallery, Gettysburg College
Judy Chicago, feminist art, The Birth Project, Birth Certificate, The Dinner Party, Creation of the World #7, Birth #4
DeBiaso, Francesca S., "Judy Chicago: The Birth Project" (2013). Schmucker Art Catalogs. 3.