Judy Chicago’s “Earth Birth”
Earth Birth, sprayed vertex and DMC floss on fabric, 62.75″ x 136.75″
(Copyright 1983, Judy Chicago. All Rights Reserved) Photo by Donald Woodman.
Created as part of her Birth Project, a project that spanned five year of time and encompassed numerous pieces created by more than 130 needleworkers from several different countries, Judy Chicago’s Earth Birth (1983) is monumental in size, presented on a quilt. I have described the history of Chicago’s Birth Project in an earlier post, but will repeat that Chicago began the project in part because she could not find many images of birthing women in all the history of art. Understanding the importance of birth to the female experience, Chicago embarked on the project, creating images of birth for all women to see.
In Earth Birth, Chicago has created a soothing velvety image in blue, the curves and ripples of which encompass the body of a birthing woman. A glowing yellow-gold color emanates from focal points of the woman’s body, including those of her mouth, her womb and her breasts, emphasizing her body’s breathing and opening up as she labors towards birth. Flowing whites outline the ripples surrounding the woman, looking like the gentle waves that might lap along the edges of an ocean lagoon, the small circle of a setting sun off in the distance.
The image reminds the pregnant woman of a calm energy innate to her own body, allowing her to open while connecting her breath to the world as she gives birth.
Judy Chicago is an American artist known for her large-scale feminist installation pieces, which engage the viewer and explore the roles and treatment of women in history, art and culture. Her work is available widely across the internet, and more about her Birth Project may be seen here.