Judy Chicago: A Global Vision
Installation view inside The Female Divine goddess structure. Photo courtesy of Dior

 The Female Divine
Judy Chicago’s collaboration with Maria Grazia Chiuri, Creative Director for Christian Dior, for the Spring/Summer 2020 haute couture show in Paris is making headlines across the globe.

Being hailed as “one of the most ambitious art-and-fashion partnerships in recent years” (artnet news) , a “feminine tour-de-force” (CR Fashionbook) , and the “coup of her career” ( Prestige Magazine), m edia coverage of the collaboration spanned the globe and exploded on social media outlets.

View of the Goddess structure: the site of Dior's Spring/Summer haute couture show.
Photo courtesy of Dior

Visitors entered Chicago’s 250 foot long goddess built on site in the garden of the Museé Rodin in Paris, and were immediately immersed in the golden glow of a space that was both beautiful and a powerful monument to the female divine. The structure’s interior floor was covered by a regal mille fleur design taken directly from the drawing for the Eleanor of Aquitane runner in Chicago’s other large-scale tribute to women’s importance, The Dinner Party (1979). This symbolic catwalk was lined by two sets of hanging banners emblazoned with appliquéd and hand embroidered questions, one side in English, the other in French, that considered how society might be different if women were humankind’s political and spiritual leaders. This series of profound questions such as, “Would God be female?” “Would there be violence?” and “Would the Earth be protected” ended with a massive banner, measuring 17 by 12 feet, asking the ultimate question “What if Women Ruled the World?” 

"What if Women Rulled the World" banner installed in the Goddess structure for
The Female Divine. Photo courtesy of Dior

“I spent a lot of time working on ‘The Dinner Party,’ trying to infuse women and women’s history with a sense of the sacred and the valuable, because there are all these things associated with women that have been devalued: our bodies, our crafts, our history,” said Chicago. “I tried to bring the same sense of divinity to bear on this work.”

Installation view of the French banners inside the Goddess structure for The Female Divine
Photo courtesy of Dior

The collaboration itself was truly global: designed in Belen, New Mexico by Chicago with the help of her husband, photographer Donald Woodman; the structure built in France by Bureau Betak; and the textiles embroidered by women in India, where textile fabrication is typically the realm of men, at the Chanakya School of Craft . This non profit organization, which was initiated by Maria Grazia Chuiri and supported by Dior, teaches the female students a trade that can ultimately lead them to greater financial independence and empowerment. 

Female students from the Chanakya School of Craft in Mumbai, India, working on the large banner, "What if Women Ruled the World?" Photo courtesy of Dior

Reaction to the installation was overwhelmingly positive with hundreds of people attending the show and dinner afterwards, and more than 10,000 people visiting the site in the week following the opening. Dior provided trained docents on site to answer visitors' questions and many of them noted the fascinating conversations the banners’ questions provoked.

Maria Grazia Chuiri, described the project this way: "Femininity and creativity have a paradoxical relationship: I wished to place this question at the center of my collection. As a key player of the Feminist Art Movement, Judy Chicago was the artist I wanted to have this conversation with."

The response in Paris and around the world proves that art can find a meaningful place even inside the fashion world, which has often been accused of oppressing women. Its worldwide reach can also make a positive social impact and help introduce important questions about equality and justice on a global level.

As Chicago stated: We made art.”  

"Donald and I made art in a powerful collaboration with Dior thanks to the vision of Maria Grazia Chiuri; not an ordinary interaction between artists and the fashion world"
- Judy Chicago

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