Fifty years ago, the artist Judy Chicago launched “Womanhouse,” the first openly feminist art installation.
On June 18, the artist famous for “The Dinner Party” will relaunch the project in Belen, retitled “Wo/Manhouse 2022.”
Chicago is opening the project to New Mexico artists across the gender spectrum.
Proposals can be submitted in March; Chicago’s nonprofit Through the Flower Art Space five-member committee will make final selections in April. Chicago expects to choose between 16 and 20 artists.
The artist says the idea came from new Through the Flower Executive Director Megan Malcom-Morgan to commemorate the project’s 50th anniversary. A local couple is loaning the use of the 16-room Belen house.
“She proposed this project to the board and everybody was incredibly jazzed about it,” Chicago said.
The project will include a reinstallation of Chicago’s 1971 “Menstruation Bathroom,” one of the first works of art on the subject, at her Through the Flower space, also in Belen. Both shows will run through the end of September.
“Wo/Manhouse 2022” will allow artists to transform the rooms into works of art exploring the subjects of domesticity and gender, as well as the ever-evolving concept of home life. Viewers can expect themes of power dynamics, abuse, gender roles, parenting and daily rituals.
In 2006, British art historian Frances Borzello cited the historical importance of the original “Womanhouse,” noting until the 1890s, art history was silent on the subject of home. Domesticity was not considered a fit artistic subject until the rise of female artists like Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt.
Home is more than a place of love and nurture.
Chicago wants to continue this dialogue and hopes that those struggling during a time rife with misogyny, racism, attacks on women’s and trans rights amid political turmoil will find their voices.
Throughout the five-month run of “Wo/Manhouse 2022” and its companion exhibition at Through the Flower Art Space, Chicago will host special performances, lectures and educational programming. Several works from the “International Honor Quilt,” a collaborative feminist art project she initiated in 1980, will be on display.
In 2001, Chicago and her photographer husband Donald Woodman, launched a similar project at Western Kentucky University with “At Home: A Kentucky Project,” open to both male and female students.
“The men did some of the most interesting work,” she said. “It woke us up to the fact that men live at home as well as women.”