Judy Chicago: Women and Smoke, California, 1971-1972

January 21, 2021 12:00 am CDT

Judy Chicago first turned to pyrotechnics in the late 1960s in an effort to feminize the atmosphere at a time when the southern California art scene was almost entirely male dominated. Between 1968 and 1974, Judy Chicago executed a series of increasingly complex fireworks pieces that involved site specific performances around California. Some of these works, titled Atmospheres, were intended to transform and soften the landscape, introducing a feminine impulse into the environment, while others focused on re-creating early women-centered activities like the kindling of fire or the worship of goddess figures. Her final Atmosphere of that period took place in 1974 near the Oakland Museum, which commissioned the work. A Butterfly for Oakland configured a 200 foot butterfly that went through a 17 minute life cycle, slowly coming into view, erupting into color, then gradually – as the sun faded – becoming extinguished.

Hosted by Daata courtesy of Through the Flower Archives, The Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art, Salon 94 New York and Artist Rights Society