Elizabeth Blackwell Place Setting
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
On View: Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, 4th Floor
Runner: Cotton/linen base fabric, woven interface support material (horsehair, wool, and linen), cotton twill tape, silk, synthetic gold cord, colored cotton, cotton fabric, chiffon, cotton, metallic cord, silk threads, cotton thread
Plate: Porcelain with overglaze enamel (China paint)
Runner: 51 7/8 x 31 in. (131.8 x 78.7 cm)
Plate: 15 x 15 x 2 1/2 in. (38.1 x 38.1 x 6.4 cm) (show scale)
Gift of The Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation
Judy Chicago (American, born 1939). Elizabeth Blackwell Place Setting, 1974-1979. Runner: Cotton/linen base fabric, woven interface support material (horsehair, wool, and linen), cotton twill tape, silk, synthetic gold cord, colored cotton, cotton fabric, chiffon, cotton, metallic cord, silk threads, cotton thread
Plate: Porcelain with overglaze enamel (China paint), Runner: 51 7/8 x 31 in. (131.8 x 78.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of The Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, 2002.10-PS-33. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: , 2002.10-PS-33_runner_PS1.jpg)
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© Judy Chicago
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Who was Elizabeth Blackwell?
Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to graduate from medical school in the United States and was a leading public health advocate during her lifetime. She even helped establish a medical school for women in 1861.
The design of the plate and runner are a reference to a butterfly, like many forms at "The Dinner Party." In this case the butterfly symbolizes taking flight considering Blackwell's contributions to the advancement of women's role in medicine.
A doctor, so the design is the Hippocratic Oath?
The design on the plate is seen as a metaphor for Blackwell's triumphs in the male dominated field of medicine.
The rainbow twisting forms swirl toward a central "black well" -- a visual pun on the doctor's surname.