Women's History on the Table
Honor women who helped to shape our world. Create a place for great leaders at history’s table.
1. More than half of the world’s population is women. But is most history about women? Today, both men and women are trying to correct this imbalance of information. Judy Chicago is one of many artists who address the issue of women’s places in history. For 5 years, she created a large-scale artwork entitled The Dinner Party. Find pictures of her installation. She made 39 place settings from ceramics, painted china, and needlework.
2. You and your classmates can construct a similar installation with women around the world. In small groups, develop a list of women to honor at your dinner table. Compare lists to avoid duplication. Cite reasons why each person should be included. For example, some students may choose Mary McLeod Bethune, who worked to bring education to Southern, African American women. Dorothy Harrison Eustis founded the Seeing Eye in New Jersey to train guide dogs for people with visual impairments.
3. After choosing your honorees, sketch each woman’s plate and placemat with Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils on white paper. Use bold images to express their contributions, such as a black-on-black pot and some words in Tewa for the place setting for potter Maria Martinez from the San Ildefonso Pueblo. Erase if you change your mind about the design.
4. On plain white paper plates and paper, draw your designs using Crayola Washable Markers and Multicultural Markers. Position each plate on a placemat. Attach two with a Crayola Glue Stick.
Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.
- Create an installation of your work in your school. Invite other classes, your parents, and the community to view the exhibit. Challenge viewers to add other women’s names and create table settings for them as well.
- For hundreds of years, women and their history have been given a back seat to the history of men. Would you agree with that statement? Debate and defend your position.
- There have been a number of spin-offs from Judy Chicago’s work including the 999 names of other women for the floor of a permanent installation at the Brooklyn Museum. Women were encouraged to design small quilts to honor their own lists of women to be honored. What spin-offs can you develop?
- Every part of an installation has meaning. Discuss why you think Chicago’s piece is triangular as well as the other symbolism found in the piece.
- Study other Judy Chicago projects such as The Holocaust and Powerplay.
- Assessment: Children explain the woman’s contributions and their design choices to classmates.