Malala Yousafzai is the youngest Nobel Laureate in history, having received the prize in 2014 at seventeen years of age. Yousafzai is a women’s rights activist from Pakistan who, in the face of threats from the Taliban, stridently fights for women’s inalienable right to education. Her inclusion in Shared Dining serves as a reminder of the inequitable distribution of educational opportunities, which are markedly few in prisons.
In an exception to this prevailing lack of education for inmates, particularly in the arts, Shared Dining was produced over six months through a series of collaborative workshops grounded in dynamic group discussions. This situates Women of York within a lineage of feminist pedagogy and “consciousness raising” strategies originating in the 1960s.
Women of York: “Shared Dining”
August 7–September 13, 2015
In 2013, a group of ten women incarcerated at York Correctional Institution in Connecticut, calling themselves “Women of York,” created this work of art inspired by Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party. The installation includes six entry banners and ten place settings arranged on a triangular table, each dedicated to a woman of personal significance to the artist.
The members of Women of York responded to the limitations of making work within a correctional institution by repurposing materials from their everyday lives, including plastic cutlery, paper plates, and Styrofoam cups. The installation is accompanied by audio recordings of each artist describing her place setting and the historical figure it represents.
Shared Dining uses individual stories to raise questions about politics, gender, and incarceration. Reflecting on the power of Chicago’s iconic masterwork, the installation celebrates women’s achievements and acknowledges the continuing impact of feminism in the twenty-first century.
Women of York: “Shared Dining” is organized by Catherine Morris, Sackler Family Curator for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, with Stephanie Weissberg, Curatorial Assistant, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum.
This exhibition is made possible by Three Guineas Fund.