Arts

As reproductive healthcare comes under renewed threat, a work from Judy Chicago’s Birth Project series will benefit Planned Parenthood

Judy Chicago, Trinity Birth Quilt, 1983 Courtesy of the artist and Through the Flower

Womens access to reproductive healthcare is once again under threat as the Trump Administration attempts to fill the late liberal US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsbergs seat with the conservative, pro-life judge Amy Coney Barret before the presidents term is up in November. Many suspect the Affordable Care Act and the landmark Roe vs. Wade ruling may be the first agenda the court will overturn should Barret be confirmed. After decades of pushing for the expansion of womens right, the feminist activist artist Judy Chicago refuses to take this potential judicial reversal lying down.

“Im of the generation who fought for abortion rights, and the idea that the younger generation will have to fight for it all over again in the face of a misogynistic Supreme Court with right-wing attitudes is horrifying,” Chicago says. “But of course repetition is also a part of womens history, unfortunately.”

A work from the artists seminal Birth Project series, donated to Denvers Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains in 1983, is being offered in a virtual sale and party hosted by Sothebys this evening to benefit the non-profit reproductive healthcare organisation. Chaired by Cecily Brown, Amy Cappellazzo, Lisa Dennison and Amy Sherald, the sale also includes works by Pat Steir, Marilyn Minter, Laurie Simmons, Rita Ackermann, Jeff Koons, Sol LeWitt and more.

Chicago's 14 ft-wide Trinity Birth Quilt (1983) combines tie-dye and quilting and is being offered with an estimate of $250,000-$350,000—a price that may set a new record for the artist's work at auction, which currently stands at $288,000 for one of her painted car hoods from 1964 that sold at a Los Angeles Modern Auctions sale in 2007. The proceeds from the quilt sale will be split equally between the chronically underfunded Planned Parenthood and the artists non-profit organisation, Through the Flower, an institution that works to empower women artists while managing Chicagos extensive archive.

Chicago produced the Birth Project series between 1980-85, creating more than 80 works combining needlework and painting that depict childbirth in an effort to “challenge the lack of images of birth and motherhood in Western art”, she tells The Art Newspaper.

Works from the series are held in various major museum collections and also other institutions like the Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, where one piece is installed in a room where seminary students of Muslim, Christian, Jewish and other faiths come to discuss the “divine feminine”. But still there is a dearth of images depicting childbirth, according to Chicago says. “As I understand it, even in this Sothebys auction that will benefit a reproductive rights organisation, my work is the only image of birth, which you must admit is a little odd.”

The artist and more than 150 needleworkers who collaborated on the Birth Project series gifted the works to Through the Flower in the 1980s, after the pieces separately toured over 100 venues. When the tour ended, the Chicagos organisation launched a permanent placement programme for the works, which involved donating the pieces to birthing centres and other institutions with the stipulation that the works could not be deaccessioned and would be returned to the organisation if the institution dissolved or removed the work from pRead More – Source