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VISIT THE SYMBOLIC HISTORY OF WOMEN IN WESTERN CIVILIZATION AT JUDY CHICAGO'S DINNER PARTY.

WELCOME TO URBANICITY
SENSING URBANITY
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The Dinner Party celebrates women's lives. The work employs numerous media: ceramics, china-painting, and an array of needle and fiber techniques.

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Plate for Virginia Woolf (1882-1941). Writer who criticized the absence of women's voices in history and literature and strove to redress this through her work.

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Plate for Margaret Sanger (1879-1966). Pioneering campaigner for birth control; believed that involuntary childbearing led to poverty and oppression.

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Plate for Isabella d'Este (1474-1539). Nobelwomen, scholar, patron and political figure; her ambitions exceeded those generally accepted for women in the Renaissance.

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Plate for Emily Dickenson (1830-1886). Poet whose passionate creativity flourished despite the repressive world in which she lived.

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Plate for Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986). Painter who forged a female-centered iconography, diverging from the work of her male contemporaries.

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Plate for Sappho, 7th centery B.C. From the Greek island of Lesbos, this poet and lover of women represents the flowering of female creativity.

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Plate for Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797). Author and feminist theoretician; famous for her treatise arguing that human progress hinged upon equality for women.

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Plate for Caroline Herschel (1750-1848). German-born British astronomer who detected eight comets and catalogued 2,500 nebulae and star clusters.

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Plate for Saint Bridget, (450-525). Religious figure in Ireland who helped to reconcile matriarchal, goddess-worshipping Celtic culture with the Christian faith; a patron of the arts.

Above are photos of 9 of the 39 plates. Here are some of the other woman honored with place settings:
 
Anna von Schurman (1607-1678).  Artist, linguist, theologian, and author of an early book proposing that women be given an education equal to men's.
 
Ishtar (pre-history). Great goddess of Mesopotamia with infinite power; the female as giver and taker of life.
 
Marcella (325-410). Founded the first Christian convent in Rome, providing a safe haven for women dedicated religion and charity.
 
Boadaceia (first century A.D.). Warrior queen who led her people in battle against oppressive Roman forces.
 
Sojourner Truth (1797-1883). Abolitionist and feminist, personifies the struggle of black women in America to overcome gender and racial oppression.
 
Aspasia (470-410 B.C.). Philosopher who organized female 'salons' to discuss the role of women as their rights and power had waned.
 
Judith (6th century B.C.). Biblical heroine known for slaying the Assyrian general Holofernes after he had laid siege to the Israelite city of Bethulia.
 
Hrosvitha (935-1002). Poet, playwright, and historian, whose pious dramas depicted women as strong, steadfast, and pure.
 
Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204). Medeival Queen of France, and then of England, who advocated an active role for women in the Christian Crusades.
 
Trotula (died 1097). Physician specializing in gynecology and obstetrics; wrote a treatise on women's diseases that remained in use for centuries after her death.
 
Hildegarde of Bingen (1098-1179). Visionary abbess, medical scholar, musician, writer, and artist; her work emphasized the relationship between human and divine.
 
Ethel Smyth (1858-1944). Composer of orchestral and chamber music, operas and choral works; professional obstacles led to her advocacy for women's rights.
 
Hypatia (340-415). Mathematician and philosopher of Alexandria, brutally murdered for her teachings, which challenged the Christian church.
 
Amazon (legendary). Embodiment of warrior women who fought for the independence of all female societies, most extensively described in ancient Greek mythology.
 
Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910). First women in America to graduate from medical school and become a licensed physician; fought to open the profession to other women.
 
Petronilla de Meath (died 1324). First women burned as a witch. Her presence at the table represents the persecution of women from the 13th through the 17th centuries.
 
Anne Huthinson (1591-1643). Religious reformer in North America who challenged church doctrine and was excommunicated and banished for her beliefs.
 
Christine de Pisan (1364-1431). First professional female author; wrote a book about a mythical city populated by the greatest women in history; initiated the first feminist discourse in Europe.
 
Primordial Goddess (pre-history). Symbolizes the original feminine being in ancient religions, from whom all life emerged; the Earth Mother.
 
Elizabeth R. (1533-1603). Queen who led England to cultural, economic, and political prosperity; asserted her independence by refusing to marry.
 
Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1651). Successful painter when artistic training was unavailable to women; she sympathetically depicted female characters from biblical and secular history.
 
Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906). American feminist revolutionary; demanded that women be able to vote, receive formal education, and have legal control over their bodies, earnings, and property.
 
Fertile Goddess (pre-history). Women as symbol of birth and re-birth, and as source of nourishment, protection, and warmth.
 
Hatshepsut (B. 1503 B.C.). Reigned Egypt from 1473 to a458 B.C.; renowned pharaoh who achieved peace and prosperity.
 
Sacajawea (1812-1884). Native American interpreter and guide for the Lewis and Clark expedition.
 
Natalie Barney (1876-1972). Lesbian feminist writer who revealed openly in her sexuality; hosted a weekly cultural salon in Paris for almost 60 years.
 
Sophia (pre-history). A spiritual representation of feminine wisdom and power; seen particularly in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the incorporeal mediator between creation and the creator.
 
Kali (pre-history). Hindu Goddess; her inclusion here challenges a broad misrepresentation of female power as destructive.
 
Snake Goddess (pre-history). Associated with wisdom, protection, fertility, and regeneration of the ancient Cretan mother Goddess, personifying a predominantly matriarchal religion.
 
 

   

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