The Dinner Party, the iconic feminist installation by Judy Chicago, has been on display at the Brooklyn Museum for years. It’s joined this fall by Shared Dining (Aug. 7 – Sept. 13, 2015), a series of place settings designed by the Women of York, a collective of inmates at the York Correctional Institution of Connecticut.
The installation can be read as a companion piece to Chicago’s, updating the earlier work with newer figures in the feminist movement such as 2014 Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan. The message of the piece cannot be separated from the setting in which it was created. The prisoners made their works only with objects which were available (read: permitted) inside their facility. The artists seek the liberation worked for by their heroes while they themselves are trapped within one of the largest prison populations on the planet. Liberation in the political sense is often abstracted, drawing arguments from societal attitudes, language or economics. The freedom sought by the inmates combines this with their literal confinement from society. They’re seeking a place at Chicago’s table, too.
From the museum:
In 2013, a group of ten women incarcerated at York Correctional Institution in Connecticut, calling themselves “Women of York,” created this work of art inspired by Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party. The installation includes six entry banners and ten place settings arranged on a triangular table, each dedicated to a woman of personal significance to the artist.
The members of Women of York responded to the limitations of making work within a correctional institution by repurposing materials from their everyday lives, including plastic cutlery, paper plates, and Styrofoam cups. The installation is accompanied by audio recordings of each artist describing her place setting and the historical figure it represents.
Shared Dining uses individual stories to raise questions about politics, gender, and incarceration. Reflecting on the power of Chicago’s iconic masterwork, the installation celebrates women’s achievements and acknowledges the continuing impact of feminism in the twenty-first century.
Women of York: “Shared Dining” is organized by Catherine Morris, Sackler Family Curator for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, with Stephanie Weissberg, Curatorial Assistant, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum.
This exhibition is made possible by Three Guineas Fund.