This summer I had the opportunity to further investigate ways to teach students about feminist artworks from the Brooklyn Museum’s collection when I participated in “An Invitation to The Dinner Party Institute.” Held at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, the Institute was a short course dedicated to teaching K-12 teachers how to utilize The Dinner Party Curriculum Project to teach students about Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party and included topics that arise when looking at and discussing this artwork, such as feminism, gender, sexuality, women’s history, and women’s rights. Although brief, the time I spent in the Institute, with staff and participants was inspirational.
I travelled down to Kutztown for a couple of days and took part as a learner and student. We practiced Encounters, which are flexible entry points into teaching the work, rather than prescriptive lesson plans. This included watching Right out of History: the Making of Judy Chicago’s the Dinner Party and attending a presentation by art historian and co-author of Gender Matters in Art Education, Dr. Martin Rosenberg or Rutgers University, Camden.
On the third day, I travelled back to Brooklyn with the group. While at the Museum, participants had the chance to view and discuss The Dinner Party with artist and creator Judy Chicago; hear a curator talk of Kiki Smith’s exhibition Sojourn; and part-take in a hands-on lesson I taught modeling learning activities in the Fertile Goddess Teacher Packet.
While some participants had known about The Dinner Party for many years, others were learning about it for the first time. For any teacher interested in teaching about feminism, feminist art, or The Dinner Party, I highly recommend using the 14 Encounters found in The Dinner Party K-12 Curriculum Project. I felt bonded to the participants I met through our passion for teaching and feminist art. I enjoyed hearing everyone’s stories of how they came to teaching art and the experiences that led them to want to learn more about Judy Chicago and The Dinner Party.
Cheri Ehrlich is a Senior Museum Educator and the Teen Programs Coordinator at the Museum. She is an Ed.D. candidate in Art and Art Education at Teachers College Columbia University, where she also received her Ed.M. Cheri holds a M.A.T. in Art from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and both a B.F.A. in Painting and a B.A. in Women’s Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Cheri enjoys working with high school students because they are full of energy and great ideas. Since 2006, Cheri has been overseeing the Museum Apprentice Program and coordinating events for teens at the Museum.