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A Bright Moment for Mosaics: Judy Chicago to Write Foreword for Book on Broca’s Esther Series

On 27, Jan 2011 | 4 Comments | In Artists, Et cetera | By man-admin

This is The Dinner Party, Judy Chicago‘s iconic feminist work that rocked the art world when it debuted in 1979.  Chicago’s intent for the project was to “end the ongoing cycle of omission in which women were written out of the historical record.”

Thirty-nine women – ranging from Ishtar to Theodora, from Sacajawea to Virginia Woolf – are represented at the table, each one with her own individual place setting and embroidered table cloth.  Another 999 women are also lionized – their names embroidered on the white floor cloth.  The work is permanently installed at the Brooklyn Art Museum.

It took five years, a cadre of artists (both male and female) and $250,000 to produce The Dinner Party, an installation that had decidedly mixed critical response at the time.

Chicago has taught, lectured, organized exhibits and produced her own work for over 40 years.  Recently, she authored a book entitled Frida Kahlo:  Face to Face  (A Ms. Blog interview with Ms. Chicago regarding the book can be found here.)  Chicago is undoubtedly one of the world’s best-known artists.

Which is why Lilian Broca initially didn’t believe it when the publisher of the forthcoming book The Hidden and The Revealed:  The Queen Esther Mosaics of Lilian Broca informed her that Chicago had agreed to write the foreward.

Queen Esther Seeking Permission to Speak, 2009 
Diptych.  64 x 88 x 1 in. Smalti, gems gold, millefiori, vitreous glass, gold smalti.
Photography by Ted Clarke

“I said to my husband, David, ‘No, no, no!’” said Broca.  “I couldn’t believe it.   Judy Chicago paved the way for we women artists to be taken as seriously as our male counterparts.  Because of her, we were finally able to exhibit when most galleries would only show the work of men.

“I was in grad school at Pratt when I became aware of her work” Broca continued. “In the early Eighties I created a whole series of dinner plates with erotic designs, a direct result of her Dinner Party series. I even had a huge dinner for friends eating off these plates – they were not 3-dimensional as Judy Chicago’s but it was safe to eat from them.” 

Like Chicago, Broca has devoted a good portion of her art to championing the historical contributions of women to society.  In her Queen Esther series, Broca pays homage to a woman “whose story of personal sacrifice, empowerment and bravery” she found compelling.

Queen Esther Revealing Her True Identity, 2006  48 x 33 x 1 in.
Iridium smalti, gems, pearls, 24K gold leaf on panel.
Photography by Ted Clarke

When we spoke with Broca, she told us that Chicago had two conditions for writing the forword: 1) That she be given NO text along with the images, and 2) That she be able to question the artist directly.   Broca readily agreed to both requirements and answered several technical questions posed by Chicago.

We believe this is a very bright moment for mosaics.  What we look forward to in The Hidden and The Revealed:  The Queen Esther Mosaics of Lilian Broca is commentary from one of the world’s best-known artists on a body of work that just happens to be – mosaic.

MAN is proud to say that Broca is also one of eight artists in MAN’s Exhibition in Print (EIP) which will be published in the 2011 edition of our magazine.  Broca was selected by juror Bernice Steinbaum, owner of The Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, a woman who has been honored by the National Organization for Women for her commitment to female artists.

In the magazine (to be released in February), Broca talks at length about the Queen Esther series, her inspiration, choice of materials, and the background behind the rich symbolism found in the work.  

The Hidden and The Revealed: The Queen Esther Mosaics of Lilian Broca will be released in August of 2011 by Gefen Books Publishers.   MAN will publish details as soon as they are known.

Enjoy ––  Nancie

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  1. Maureen

    Such marvelous news! Lilian Broca's work is stunning.

    I attended and wrote a post about Chicago's presentation on her Kahlo book at NMWA. She hasn't lost any of her fire.

  2. Mosaicista Appassionata

    Thank you for sharing!!
    I have been thinking for quite some time for a post on Lilian Broca. This could be a great subject considering the blend of two remarkable women. I have seen only now Judy Chicago's work and I was surprised by how delicately yet powerfully she sends her message forward.

    ps. I have found a website from which you can send mosaic e-cards if you wanted to check it out it is Fun ? See new post.

  3. Concetta

    Huge congratulation to you Lilian. Your work is stunning and its wonderful for you to get such acknowledgment.

  4. Lilian Broca

    Thank you Nancie,
    Your very generous support is equaled only by your eloquence and apt description of the events. I am always impressed with your writing style and now, the fact that I am part of it is very gratifying.
    Judy Chicago is truly special, a woman way ahead of her time. She came to Vancouver a couple of years ago and gave a memorable talk here; I was there cheering her on. Should have introduced myself then…. but who could have ever imagined that two years down the road she would agree to write a preface to my book?
    Grazie mille,

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