Judy Chicago's system for "psychic privacy"—plus, advice for a stuck writer
"So the thing is that I used to work 17 hours a day."
Welcome to the second issue of Subtle Maneuvers. Last week, we looked at Kurt Vonnegut’s “spiritually pooping” routine as a novelist and teacher. This week, the pioneering American artist Judy Chicago—and the debut of the advice column!
Judy Chicago (b. 1939)
The 80-year-old artist was in the news recently for The Female Divine, the enormous inflatable sculpture she created for Dior’s spring/summer haute couture show in Paris. In a 2009 interview, Chicago described her daily routine in Belen, New Mexico, where she lives and works:
So the thing is that I used to work 17 hours a day. And now I don’t have to work that much to accomplish a similar amount. . . . And I’m too old to work 17 hours. I can still do it if I have to, but I don’t like it, and I don’t want it, and it makes me grumpy, and there’s no reason to. So, you know, now my normal day is seven hours. I go to the studio, I work all day, then I exercise. . . . And then Donald [her husband] and I hang out with the kitties at night, watch movies. On the weekends, we do something, go see friends, visit something, you know. Have fun.
Chicago did not always have such an easy time reconciling her work and personal lives. In her 1975 autobiography, Through the Flower, she described the challenges of trying to work in the same house as her then husband, the sculptor Lloyd Hamrol, whose schedule was the opposite of hers. She wrote: