Visualizing Birth in Judy Chicago’s “Creation of the World”

Creation of the World E 3/9, Silkscreen and embroidery over drawing on fabric. 
Copyright 1984, Judy Chicago, All Rights reserved.

Visualizing Birth returns to American artist Judy Chicago’s Birth Project, a series of monumental pieces made over five years (1980-1985) and devoted to representations of birth. Chicago began working on the Birth Project after realizing that the topic of birth was deeply marginalized in the arts.  Chicago and more than 130 needleworkers created a number of needlepoint tapestries, some of which have been discussed previously on Visualizing Birth: Earth Birth, Hatching the Universal EggCeramic Goddess #3, Birth Trinity, and The Crowning.

In Chicago’s Creation of the Worldthe artist’s mesmerizing image shows elements of the female form–breasts, limbs, and flesh, rooted in the embroidery through a series of thick dark lines that merge towards the right side of the image with small representations of the natural world. These representations of fauna and flora, which are part of the female form, also blend into the abstract landscape, bringing human body and natural landscape together. The darker threads of orange, brown and ochre flow from the central part that creases through the female form. A round shape of the same colors extends from the form like an outstretched womb.

Like Chicago’s other works, Creation of the World is helpful to pregnant women in the visualization of birth, in this case reminding them that their bodies are connected to a long lineage of life and creation on earth.

Judy Chicago is an American artist known for her large-scale feminist installation pieces, which enage 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 through her Through the Flower website.