This article looks at the work of Suzanne Lacy, an artist who emerged from the Feminist Art Program at the California Institute of the Arts in the early 1970s. It focuses on key examples of Lacy's large-scale dinners, including the food-based performance network staged in conjunction with the opening of The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1979. This article argues that these dinners served to transition Lacy from an early performance practice centered on rape and violence against women to the later coalition-building exercises that helped define “new genre public art.” Drawing on interviews with the artist, it traces the use of meat and foodstuffs in Lacy's practice, beginning with beef kidneys in 1972. Much prior writing on Lacy investigates her performances of the 1970s. This article examines the way in which Lacy used elements of these performances, namely food, to further understand the roles of relationships and conversation in art.

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