A couple of months ago, I attended the Readers Studio tarot conference in New York. While there, I made a pilgrimage to the Brooklyn Museum to see The Dinner Party. It was everything I dreamed it would be! The installation is impressively, almost overwhelmingly, large. Everything about the display is exquisite. I spent at least two hours utterly absorbed by it.
And the women were there, what a price they had paid
To be at that table so finely displayed
And now I can see at last
The past is before me and the women are there
--from Judy Fjell's song, The Dinner Party
This iconic work of art has accomplished so many things for women. The Dinner Party helped to give women our "rightful place at the table" by acknowledging our place in history. It was one of the first public showcases of women's re-emerging consciousness of the Divine Feminine and the Goddess. The Dinner Party also rejoiced in glorious vulva imagery which, unlike phallic imagery, was rarely portrayed as art in the male-centred Western tradition. And last but not least, The Dinner Party successfully challenged the Art Establishment's dogma that embroidery, ceramics and fibre arts (the traditional media of female artistic expression) were mere "handicrafts" deemed unsuitable for recognition or display as "art."
The Dinner Party is truly one of the twentieth century's great works of art. I am so glad to have finally seen it in person! But the next best way to see it is through the magick of the internet. The Brooklyn Museum has a fabulous website devoted to The Dinner Party, including a virtual tour, close-ups of every place setting and biographies of every honoree at the table. Check it out here!