Judy Chicago is a feminist artist, whose work, although initially rejected, pushed the art world to accept feminism and has defined feminist art to this day.
Judy Chicago was born in 1939 in Chicago (initially with the last name Cohen). She was raised in a wealthy Jewish family who supported her career in the arts, this support allowed her to begin pursuing art from the age of 5. As a result of this early start, each of Chicago’s later pieces is defined by her adept artist skills and technical feats. Being a woman in the art world hegemonized by men pushed her towards her radicalized artwork. In 1965, Chicago released a modern art piece of a series of rainbow beams leaning against a wall, when art critic Walter Hopps saw the piece he largely ignored it and talked to the other male artists in the room. Years after, Chicago and Hopps met again and he told her, that his ignorance was a result of surprise at the high level of her work. Sexism from the world and critics was and continues to be, the major inspiration for her work. The most famous of these pieces is “The Dinner Party”
In 1979 Chicago revealed an enormous project that covered over 1,100 square feet and marks her most influential piece. The piece consisted of a tile floor, three 48-foot-long tables which created the perimeter, and 39 ceramic plates which gave a spot to an influential woman in history. This piece required years of work to complete and the help of over 400 volunteers. In order to complete this feat, Chicago and her team threw, handbuilt, slab built, and slip-cast the pieces. They also employed painting, sewing, and building skills. Inscribed on the tile floor were the names of 999 influential women whose names were largely unknown or forgotten. The piece is both a respectful homage to the powerful women who came before her and a satirical understanding of the nonsensical notion of man’s power. Each of the 39 plates took a vulvaic form, this, although initially thought of as pornographic and unnecessary, defined the piece as a straightforward and “audacious” piece of art that holds a firm grip on what it means to be a feminist in art. The New York Times described the piece in 2018 writing on Judy Chicago as “a repository of women’s history” and remarked on the assumed humor of the piece had it been released in the modern world: “The audacity of “The Dinner Party,” its rhetorical energy, its humor (the vulva plates are, among other things, a play on what it might be like if women took as much pride in their anatomy as men did)”.
Despite its initial rejection from the art world Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party” has been tremendously influential to art in its category and marked the first of its kind of feminist art piece. Chicago trailblazed as a leader in the largely male art world of the time and continued to this day as a radical artist and strong feminist. “The Dinner Party” is now a permanent exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum and continues to inspire the feminist movement and female artists and non-artist alike. Judy Chicago and “The Dinner Party” remain the unambiguous “Godmother” of feminism in the arts.
I surf with more passion than I’ve ever felt before, but I’d certainly not consider myself good. It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever encountered, walls of water like moving mountains, foamy white water like a powerful avalanche, a board which goes from your greatest ally to greatest enemy the moment it is freed from your hands and feet. Is the feeling of a wave worth the pain of falling? Often, yeah it is, small waves, no biggie, a couple seconds of being underwater (burr), and then you paddle back out and try again. But when the waves become giants and the board a brute force weapon, that fall feels like life or death. I remember going out on a day with waves far beyond my skill set, Goliath and Polyphemus in the flesh. Before even paddling for a wave a set came in, the first wave blocked the sun as it groaned past me, the second feathered as I crested its peak desperately paddling to the outside, and the third I was not so lucky. The avalanche hit me, immediately tearing the board from my hands, the wave now groaning on top of me thrashing my body like a ragdoll in a washing machine. My last thought was “I really don’t want to die”, and then, it was over. The wave passed and adrenaline pulled out beyond the impact zone. So what pushes me to surf in water like this, maybe I just like the adrenaline but I think it’s because putting myself in places beyond my skill set and comfort, where I am deeply imperfect, has shaped who I am.
I probably had one of my rawest encounters with the ocean on the Santa Cruz trip. On Thursday the group hiked to Smugglers cove (Liam and I ran), this large round bay faces south, unlike Scorpion Ranch which faces northeast where we spend most of the trip. What’s important is not the bay itself but that hundreds of miles south of the bay a hurricane was(still is) active off of Baja. Hurricanes and storms such as this one generate 90% of swells worldwide, and this storm is no exception. For days large lumps of water have traveled hundreds of miles along the coast bringing warm water and very good waves to Mexico and California. The swell and bay direction created a very interesting experience in the water. Large closeout walls slammed into shores in sets of 4 to 5 waves with faces that peaked (to my best guess) at 7 or 8 feet. Liam, Zimo, and I got the opportunity to swim out into these waves ducking and swimming under them and even catching the smaller ones with our bodies, or the boogie board in Liam’s case. This experience is easily one of the coolest I’ve had in the water because of the lack of wind and large swell, the waves were perfectly clean giants and they were absolutely gorgeous. Each set was a new masterpiece of nature and each wave defined the ocean’s beauty. I love waves.
Today the OVS surf club opened the year with essentially a perfect dawn patrol. Although the waves weren’t incredible, we had 24 people in the water, and the OVS kids’ energy was immaculate. Even Liam (who was snaking and tackling kids off waves) was keeping everyone in a good mood. For me, that’s what surfing is all about; just having fun in the water. I’m stoked to have such a large surfing crew at OVS. Although I’m not the only surfer and certainly not the best, I was basically the only one pushing Byars for more surf-related activities last year. I mean most of us live less than 30 minutes from the beach and we’ve (at least since I’ve been here) never had this many kids willing and excited to wake up at 5:00 am to get into 64° water. Also with Mr. Mundingbecker being a new edition this year, it seems like we are going to have a real surf team and hopefully, it will add a piece to the OVS Outdoor Education that I think the school has been missing.