The Dinner Party Project records
MSDPP_NO

 An inventory of the collection at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Summary Information

Repository
Richard J. Daley Library Special Collections and University Archives
Creator
Roslyn Group for Arts and Letters.
Title
The Dinner Party Project records
ID
MSDPP_NO
Date [inclusive]
1978-1984
Extent
6.5 Linear feet
Language
English
Abstract:
The Dinner Party Project Records highlight the planning and execution of Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party exhibition in Chicago in 1981-1982. The room-sized sculpture explored women's history and celebrated women's achievements.

Preferred Citation

The Dinner Party Project records, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Illinois at Chicago

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Administrative History

The Dinner Party was a conceptual art installation conceived and executed by artist Judy Chicago. The room-sized sculpture combined several media to interpret women's history through the theme of a set dining table. Each of the thirty-nine settings highlighted the contributions of a notable female historical subject, encompassing the fields of science, medicine, government, women's rights, religion, mythology, visual arts and music. Ultimately, over one million visitors viewed the artwork throughout fifteen exhibitions in six different countries between 1974-1981.

On July 30, 1939 Judith Cohen was born to a middle-class secular Jewish family in Chicago. Her father was federal employee and labor activist and her mother studied dance and worked in health care. Cohen studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and earned a BFA in 1962 and an MFA in 1964 from the University of California at Los Angeles. In 1969 she changed her name to Judy Chicago as a gesture of resistance against patriarchal naming practices. From an early stage she engaged feminism and sexuality in her work. She received negative feedback for this practice in art school, yet she persisted to pioneer feminist art practices and develop feminist pedagogy in her teaching activities. Chicago refined and institutionalized her teaching methods in the development of a program at California State University at Fresno for women artists. Her career as an artist continued to flourish both as a teacher and artist. Throughout the next decades, she conceived of numerous projects, both massive and intimate, exhibited extensively, and held numerous visiting artistships and teaching appointments.

Under the direction of Chicago, over 400 artist contributors worked together to produce The Dinner Party installation after five years of planning and production. The sculpture featured an open triangular table, with each side measuring nearly fifty feet in length. Each setting featured an elaborately embroidered runner highlighting the needlework techniques contemporary of the subject's own time period. The runners, which identified the featured woman, backdrop an oversized dinner plate featuring an unique representation of a butterfly. Inside the table, an enormous span of porcelain identifies 999 women who proved influential in the lives of the 39 principle characters. The intended effect of the exhibit was not only to highlight individual women, but also to demonstrate the collective efforts of womankind.

The Dinner Party Project encompassed the planning and execution of an exhibition of the installation in Chicago, and was the first project undertaken by The Roslyn Group for Arts and Letters. In 1979, a group of Chicago women found themselves inspired by Judy Chicago's book Through the Flower: My Struggle as a Women Artist. Committed to bringing to the work to Chicago, they incorporated as a non-profit and undertook a rigorous search for an appropriate venue and financial support. After two years of planning work, The Dinner Party exhibited at the Frankin Building located in 720 South Dearborn in the south loop of downtown Chicago. It opened on September 13, 1981, offered an extended run of nearly 6 months, and hosted over 70,000 visitors. After the Chicago exhibit, the installation went on to several other exhibitions in Canada, Europe, and other venues in the United States. After several years of searching for a suitable andf willing permanent home, The Brooklyn Museum agreed to open a permanent exhibit in 2006.

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Scope and Contents

The materials in this collection reflect the efforts undertaken by the Roslyn Group for Arts and Letters, an ad hoc organization formed to bring The Dinner Party to Chicago. These records illuminate the financial and logistical planning as well as the execution of the exhibit in Chicago. The collection consists primarily of financial documents, meeting minute, correspondence, clippings, publicity materials, photos and slides.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Richard J. Daley Library Special Collections and University Archives March 2005

801 S. Morgan Street
Chicago, Illinois, 60607
312.996.2742

Restrictions on Access

None

Restrictions on Use

None

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Collection Inventory

Series I: The Dinner Party Project Records 

Box Folder

Art In America - article, 1980. 

1 1

Art Institute of Chicago, 1978-1980 

1 2

Attendance Statistics, 1981-1982 

1 3

Audio Tour - Usage Statistics, 1980-1981 

1 4

Bringing the Dinner Party to Chicago, Thesis, 1981 

1 5

Contributor List, c. 1980 

1 6

Correspondence, 1981 

1 7

Donors, c. 1981 

1 8

Event - Artists of the New South Loop, 1982 

1 9

Exhibit - Atlanta Museum of Touch, undated 

1 10

Exhibit - Bibliography, 1979 

1 11

Exhibit - Brooklyn Museum, 1978-1980 

1 12

Exhibit - Boston Center for the Arts, 1978-1980 

1 13

Exhibit - Electrical Specs, 1981 

2 14

Exhibit - Houston, 1980 

2 15

Exhibit - Installation Details, 1981 

2 16

Exhibit - Inventory and Disposition, c.1982 

2 17

Exhibit - Ohio, 1981 

2 18

Exhibit - Ohio, 1981-1982 

2 19

Exhibit - Proof Sheets [photos], c.1981 

2 20

Exhibit - Proposal and Budget, 1979-1981 

2 21

Exhibit - SF MOMA, 1979 

2 22

Film Screenings, 1981 

2 23

Finance Committee, 1981 

2 24

Financial - Budget and Balance Sheets, 1981-1984 

2 25

Financial - Guarantor Statements, 1981 

2 26

Finances and Planning - Miscellaneous, 1979-1981 

2 27

Fundraising, 1981 

2 28

Fundraising - Blackston Reception, 1981 

3 29

Fundraising - Foundations and Grants, 1980-1982 

3 30

Fundraising - Schoolcraft College Dinner Party, 1981 

3 31

Fundraising - Tiffany Benefit, 1981 

3 32

Gallery Preparations - Contact Sheets [photos], 1982 

3 33

Group Support Opportunities, 1981-1982 

3 34

Guestbook, 1981 

3 35

Guestbook, 1981 

3 36

Illinois Arts Council, 1981 

3 37

In-kind Donations, 19, 1981-1982 

3 38

Gala Celebration, 1981 

3 39

Group Attendance Reports, 1981 

3 40

Judy Chicago Biography and Project Description, 1981 

3 41

Mayor Jane Byrne Tour, 1981 

3 42

Media Guidelines, c.1981 

3 43

Meetings with Judy Chicago - Notes, 1981 

3 44

Midwest Craft Festival, undated 

3 45

Organizational Partnerships, 1980-1981 

3 46

Place Settings - Descriptions and Sales, 1981 

3 47

Press [clippings], 1981-1982 

3 48

Press [clippings], 1981-1982 

4 49

Press [clippings], 1981-1982 

4 50

Press [clippings], 1981-1982 

4 51

Press [clippings], 1981-1982 

4 52

Press [clippings], 1981-1982 

4 53

Press [clippings], 1981-1982 

4 54

Press [clippings], 1981-1982 

4 55

Press - Correspondence, 1981 

4 56

Press - Opening Event [photos], undated 

5 57

Press Kit, c.1981 

5 58

Press Releases, 1981 

5 59

Press Reviews, 1980-1981 

5 60

Publicity, 1980 

5 61

Publicity, 19, 1980 

5 62

Publicity, 1981 

5 63

Publicity, 19, 1981-1982 

5 64

Publicity, c. 1981 

5 65

Publicity, 1982 

5 66

Publicity - Advertising, 1981-1982 

5 67

Quilt Project, 1981 

5 68

Quilt Project - Proof Sheets [photos], c.1981 

6 69

Quilt Project, 1981 

6 70

Quilt Project - Dedications, 1981 

6 71

Richard Gray Gallery Event, 1981 

6 72

Right out of History Documentary, 1980-1981 

6 73

Roslyn Group for Arts and Letters, 1981 

6 74

Site Selection - Chicago, 1979-1980 

6 75

Slide, c.1981 

6 76

Steering Committee Minutes, 1981-1982 

6 77

Videography, c.1981 

6 78

Work Plan, 1981 

6 79

501(c)(3) Certificate, 1981 

6 80

Slides, undated 

7 81
Oversize

Exhibit Signage, circa 1981 

Folder 82

Clippings and Publications, 1981 

Folder 83

Banners, circa, 1981 

Folder 84

Maps and Posters, circa 1981 

Folder 85

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