Shared Dining - The Exhibition


March 8 through April 8, 2019

A group of ten women incarcerated at York Correctional Institution in Connecticut, calling themselves “Women of York,” produced this work of art inspired by Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party. Shared Dining echoes the structure of The Dinner Party, with entry banners and place settings, each composed of a plate, chalice, and runner dedicated to a woman of personal significance to the artist. Reflecting on the enduring power of Chicago’s iconic masterwork, the installation celebrates women’s historical achievements and acknowledges the continuing impact of feminism in the twenty-first century.

The artists have responded to the constraints of producing work within a correctional institution by repurposing pedestrian materials, playing on historical craft-based associations of art made by women. The table is accompanied by audio recordings of each artist describing her place setting and its meaning. An act of determined self-representation, Shared Dining uses individual narratives to raise critical questions about politics, gender, and incarceration.

Works include:

  • Feminine Energy by Kelly
  • Eve by Shannon
  • The Mother (Virgin Mary) by Yajaira
  • Juliet by Chasity
  • Lena by Tricia
  • Phyllis Porter by Lisette
  • Princess Diana by Panna
  • Rainy by Shaquima
  • Danica Patrick by Cara
  • Malala Yousafzai by Tracie

These didactics were originally included in the exhibition Women of York: “Shared Dining”, organized by Catherine J. Morris, Sackler Senior Curator for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, with Stephanie Weissberg, Curatorial Assistant, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum, in 2015.

Photo by Susan Meiselas.

The exhibition is on loan from the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation through the sponsorship of the Charter Oak Cultural Center and the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut in partnership with Hartford Public Library and the States of Incarceration traveling exhibit.

The Shared Dining artwork was facilitated by Elizabeth Sackler, Founder and Rebekah Tafel, Director of Programs for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation with the assistance of Joseph Lea, Library Media Specialist (retired) at York Correctional Institution.

Catherine Muther and Susan Meiselas documented this project through the support of the Three Guineas Fund which resulted in the creation of the Shared Dining catalog, digital and audio files of the artwork and artists’ statements which will all be on display along with the exhibit.

The exhibit was organized by Joseph Lea, Donna Berman, Donna Gerard, Nana Amos and Glenn Mitoma.

Shared Dining has been exhibited at the CT Prison Arts Show at University of Hartford, Hartford, CT (2014), The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY (2015), the American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, MD (2016), and The Maier Museum at Randolph College, Lynchburg, VA (2017).

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