Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro’s Epoch-Making Feminist Installation ‘Womanhouse’ Gets a Tribute in Washington, DC
It would be hard to imagine better timing for the opening of the show “Women House,” a 21st-century take on artists Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro’s original 1972 installation, Womanhouse, which they made in collaboration with their students at the CalArts Feminist Art Program in Los Angeles.
The new show, which opened last year at the French museum La Monnaie de Paris and is now traveling to the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, comes in the wake of the #MeToo movement and, in the US, just after International Women’s Day. But the curators had no idea how much their efforts would tap into the cultural zeitgeist when they first started planning the show back in 2015.
“No one realized it was going to coincide with such an important moment for cultural change in regards to women in the workplace,” said Orin Zahra, an assistant curator at the museum. “The show will resonate more because of this current spotlight on women’s issues, even though it’s not directly talking about sexual harassment. It’s about how architecture is politicized—and you see that both in the domestic space and the work place.”
Chicago similarly had no idea what a surprise hit her original Womanhouse, which addressed stereotypes about home and femininity, would be either. “I don’t know that I realized how radical a change I was going to make,” she told artnet News. “In the 1970s, the two biggest issues were sex and housework. Since then, more women have entered the work force and have been battling against the glass ceiling and experiencing our form of male terrorism, which is sexual harassment.” In some countries, women still aren’t allowed to leave the house, she added.