In “The Dinner Party,” Judy Chicago’s famous triangular installation, plates serve up slices of women’s history, rather than food. Now, designs from the symbolic banquet are available to actually eat off, thanks to a new collaboration between the artist and homeware purveyor Prospect NY. The collection features replicas of four plates, crafted in fine bone china — and yes, they’re dishwasher safe.
Just over a year old, Prospect NY works with contemporary artists to design and develop small-batch collections of household objects, from towels to candles. Its collaboration with Chicago marks the first time that the artist’s famous plates depicting vulvar forms have been made to be functional (although you can purchase them as coasters). Working with Prospect NY founder Laura Currie, Chicago chose to adapt the representational place settings for the Primordial Goddess, Sappho, the Amazon warriors, and Queen Elizabeth I, or Elizabeth R.
“The purpose of ‘The Dinner Party’ was to spark conversations and study around the rich heritage of women in the Western world — to celebrate female figures real and imagined that had been left out of history,” Chicago told Hyperallergic. “What better way to achieve this than through easily accessible reproductions?” She added that she was drawn to these four designs because they collectively embody the qualities in all the women represented in “The Dinner Party,” which features 39 place settings.
“Specifically, we chose Primordial Goddess for her embodiment of an ineffable cosmic force and creative energy — the ultimate artist,” Chicago said. “We chose Sappho because she stands for faith in women’s wisdom and a commitment to supporting and educating each other. We chose Amazon because she represents female strength and a communal society. And, lastly, we chose Elizabeth R. for the possibility of women as rulers of the Western World.”
Available for purchase online, each plate is a limited edition of 150. They come in one of two sizes: seven or 10.75 inches in diameter (smaller than the originals, which span 14 inches), which cost, respectively, $135 and $155. Each also features a brief description of its muse, inscribed on its reverse side. Chicago said that her favorite plate in this new collection is the one representing the Amazons.
“With the coalition of women marching for their values in cities across the world, the #MeToo movement, the movie Wonder Woman, there is a new generation of Amazons leading the way,” Chicago told Hyperallergic, “and this makes me so proud. Amazon is very ‘now.’”
On permanent display at the Brooklyn Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, “The Dinner Party” was produced between 1974 and 1979, with the help of hundreds of volunteers. In addition to ceramic plates, the installation features embroidered table runners and welcome banners by its entryway. These elements have also been reproduced for the Prospect NY collection: the runner at Margaret Sanger’s seat is available as a silk scarf ($225); two banners are reborn as silk pillowcases ($185).
This new collection makes Chicago’s designs available to enjoy in one’s home, in lavish, sophisticated form. But it’s hard to shake the idea of another series that could have arisen from such a collaboration, albeit one that’s a little more playful (and more financially accessible). May we suggest another line of plates be produced in the future — only in paper, and designed to include the full set?