About Through the Flower

The Founding of Through the Flower and The Dinner Party

TTF Painting

Through the Flower, 1973
Sprayed acrylic on canvas, 5' x 5'
Collection of Elizabeth A. Sackler, New York, NY

Judy Chicago with TTF2

Judy Chicago

Through the Flower was founded by Judy Chicago in 1978 as a 501(c)3 non- profit organization. Its original mission involved providing a fiscal structure for donations to help complete The Dinner Party. But this quickly changed, and soon Through the Flower began to organize the worldwide exhibition tour that brought The Dinner Party to sixteen venues in six countries and three continents, where over one million people viewed Judy Chicago’s monumental tribute to women in Western civilization. (Or as she sometimes describes it: a reinterpretation of the Last Supper from the point of view of those who’ve done the cooking throughout history.)

The permanent housing of The Dinner Party was always part of Judy Chicago's goal, largely because she—like Gerda Lerner, the pioneering women's historian—believes that it is in part women's ongoing excision from both history and art history which prevents women from full cultural and social participation. (Even today, women's work comprises only 5% of museum collections).

The Dinner Party in Germany

“Festival of 1000 Women”
Frankfurt Opera House, Frankfurt, Germany, 1986

Melbourne Dinner for 1000 women

“Dinner for 1000 Women”
Melbourne, Australia, 1988

The Dinner Party

The Dinner Party, Judy Chicago, 1979. Mixed media 48' x 48' x 3', Collection of Brooklyn Museum.

After The Dinner Party returned to the United States, Through the Flower cared for the work until Chicago’s goal of permanent housing was achieved in 2007. It was at this point that — through the vision of Dr. Elizabeth A. Sackler — The Dinner Party was installed as the centerpiece around which the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum is organized. The Dinner Party installation includes six woven Entry Banners, the massive triangular banquet table with 39 Place Settings, the Heritage Floor inscribed with the names of 999 women, the seven Heritage Panels portraying their lives, and the Acknowledgment Panels, depicting the 129 team members who worked on The Dinner Party. Additional gallery space in the Center is used to continue the theme of raising awareness of feminism’s cultural contributions, and to educate new generations about the meaning of feminist art.

The Dinner Party Curriculum Project

In 2009, Through the Flower launched The Dinner Party K-12 Curriculum which was created by Judy Chicago with renowned art educator Dr. Marilyn Stewart and colleagues at Kutztown University. The Curriculum is now available online in perpetuity at Penn State University, which is known as one of the most prestigious art education programs in the U.S. In addition to helping to support the Curriculum, Through the Flower also supports the annual Dinner Party Institute at Kutztown University which trains teachers in how best to apply the principles of the Curriculum.

Other Through the Flower Activities and Projects

Through the Flower has supported numerous projects since its inception. From 1980 – 1985, Through the Flower sponsored the Birth Project, a series of painted and needleworked images by Judy Chicago celebrating birth and creation. At the end of the exhibition tour, Through the Flower placed Birth Project works in over 30 institutions so that women’s experiences could become a permanent part of our cultural heritage.

From 1985 – 1993, Through the Flower sponsored the Holocaust Project: From Darkness into Light by Judy Chicago and her husband, photographer Donald Woodman, along with assorted artisans. An unflinching examination of a dark period of history, the exhibition was traveled by Through the Flower to ten venues and, more recently, selected work continues to travel.

The Birth Project NYC review roof top

Birth Project review,
Judy Chicago with Dolly Kaminski, needleworker for EU-70 Birth Filet Crochet, atop a New York City apartment building. The piece was about three-fifths complete in this image, circa 1983
Photo courtesy of Through the Flower Archives

Holocaust Project Chicago street banners

Banners along Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL for the exhibition Holocaust Project: From Darkness Into Light at the Spertus Museum, 1993

TTF art conversations

Through the Flower Art Conversation, “Spotlight on the New Mexico Women’s Cultural Corridor: Maria Martinez”, Belen, NM, 2006.
Slides, short film and art conversation with Kathy Wan Woe Povi Sanchez of San Ildefonso Pueblo (Tewa)

In 1990, Through the Flower relocated from California (where it began) to New Mexico and began a series of educational seminars, workshops and lectures around the state. It also launched a number of exhibitions of Feminist artists, instituted the Founding Feminist Award, and the New Mexico Women’s Cultural Corridor project, which tied together various sites in the state devoted to women.

Through the Flower established the Through the Flower Library By and About Women at University of New Mexico Valencia Campus where the original gift of 1100 books has grown to over 2100, and which are available all over New Mexico through inter-library loan.

UNM - Valencia

Through the Flower Library By and About Women at University of New Mexico Valencia Campus

Cultural corridor map

New Mexico Women’s Cultural Corridor brochure presented by Through the Flower

In 2013, Through the Flower gifted the International Honor Quilt, a project involving over 600 quilts that had toured with The Dinner Party, and had then been archived by Through the Floor, to the University of Louisville and the Hite Art Institute. The Project, which had been initiated by Judy Chicago in 1980, will be used for educational purposes and permanently available for active research and study.

More detailed information about these and other Through the Flower projects can be found in the Projects section of our website. For a listing of all our projects and activities, as well as information about the major locations for Judy Chicago’s work, please visit our Legacy section.

Our Current Activities

Through the Flower has refocused its activities so that it can fulfill its mission by providing resource and research materials through our institutional partners, and to students and scholars worldwide. Through the Flower is headquartered in Belen, NM and is open to scholars and researchers by appointment.

Through the Flower is located at 107 Becker Avenue, Belen, NM 87002. Telephone: 505.864.4080 info@throughtheflower.org