The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

Guide Post

The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

Guide Post

The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

Guide Post

Judy Chicago: Uncomfortably Eye-Opening Feminist Rhetoric

Towering above the graffitied storefronts and brick apartment buildings of Manhattan’s Lower East Side stands the New Museum, a hidden gem of NYC’s modern art scene. Read more to find out about Judy Chicago’s “Herstory.”

Towering above the graffitied storefronts and brick apartment buildings of Manhattan’s Lower East Side stands the New Museum, a hidden gem of NYC’s modern art scene. On view until March 3, 2024 is Judy Chicago’s “Herstory,” an ingenious collective of contemporary feminist perspectives exploring the nuances of modern womanhood through multimedia exhibitions displaying the work of Chicago and other feminist peers. The collection spans three stories and entry into the museum is free for ages 18 and under.

Standout Works

Upon entering the second floor, one is greeted with Chicago’s vibrant drawings and paintings of flowers that incorporate not-so-subtle undertones of yonic imagery. Through uncannily perfect geometry and smooth blending of soft yet powerful colors, Chicago perfectly encapsulates the infinite essence of the feminine mystique in a standout style that reflects the psychedelic color trends of the 1970s.

By combining her distinctive cursive with her colored pencil and painted renderings, Chicago explores her identity as a female artist and chronicles her experiences in dealing with discrimination and rejection in addition to writing words of empowerment that celebrate the achievement of feminist contemporaries and predecessors. Walking through the exhibit is akin to walking through a diary of Chicago’s most vulnerable thoughts and deepest contemplations.

Still, Chicago’s artistic activism doesn’t stop at feminism — she also seeks to dismantle other societal hierarchies by addressing racism, antisemitism, and the mass slaughter of common and endangered animals.

“Rainbow Shabbat” by Judy Chicago (Credit: Artsy).

“Rainbow Shabbat” is a true exemplar of Chicago’s vision of a world free of hate and racial divides. The three-paneled, illuminated stained glass piece depicts a representative of each culture and religion — Christian, Jewish, Asian, African, and more — sitting around a table embracing one another. The piece is surrounded by two Jewish stars that say in English and Hebrew, “Heal those broken souls who have no peace and lead us all from darkness into light.” Placed in a room filled with paintings and photographs depicting the atrocities of the Holocaust and World War II, this piece serves as a beacon of hope for the possibility of benevolence and love to prevail.

In an exhibition titled, “Extinction: The End,” Chicago paints powerfully gruesome images of the explicit slaughter and displacement of various animals on black glass combined once more with her thoughtful writings. Chicago explores the intersectionality of ecological activism and feminism under a school of thought known as ecofeminism that discusses the parallels between female oppression and animal degradation. Through paintings of sharks, elephants, polar bears, and gorillas, Chicago explores how even the most majestic of animals can succumb to human cruelties. 

Senior Nina Zar prepares to answer the question, “Will women be seen as stronger?” (Credit: Katherine Zhao)

However, it is not only the works of Chicago that steal the show: a particularly powerful film by Johanna Demetrakas in her “Womanhouse” series will render you uncomfortable but unexplainably engaged. Through satirical skits depicting childbirth and gender roles, jarring spoken word poetry, and cult-like song and chants, the audio of the work echoes throughout the exhibit. The film is an immaculate commentary on the emergence of a feminist consciousness in the late 20th century.

To finish off your visit, you can visit the sky room. Here, there is a unique opportunity for all visitors to add their own stories to Chicago’s “Herstory.” From a pamphlet titled “What if Women Ruled the World?,” one can choose to answer a variety of questions on camera, including, “Would there be less violence?” and “Would parenting be equal?” Responses can be added to Chicago’s “Digital Quilt” project, an ever-evolving tapestry of answers from all people of ages, gender identities, and cultural backgrounds.

Nearby Attractions

Conveniently, the New Museum is located at the cusp of Little Italy and Chinatown, allowing for ample exploration into various ethnic restaurants and shops.

A great place to take a break after your visit is East 14th Street’s Kyuramen. Not only is the service speedy and the food delicious, the space is very cozy with ambient lighting and cubicle-confined dining tables. The restaurant also contains a bar for authentic Japanese ice cream in flavors such as matcha and ube.


Overall, the New Museum’s “Herstory” exhibition invites discussion and debate regarding a variety of hot-button topics that have prevailed in American society over Chicago’s career of six decades. Whether you align yourself with Chicago’s rhetoric and philosophies or not, the exhibit is worth visiting simply for its diversity in media and technique when addressing a variety of societal issues. Despite most works dating as far back as the 1970s and some being created as recently as 2020, the message of every single work is one that should be viewed and discussed by the American public, as her voice and distinct visual vocabulary still remain driving forces behind the heartbeat of the American feminist movement.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Guide Post Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *