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"Surveying Judy Chicago: Five Decades" opens at the Palmer Museum of Art
Judy Chicago, Earth Birth, from the Birth Project, 1983, sprayed acrylic, oil paint, macramé, crochet, and beading on fabric. Quilting by Jacquelyn Moore Alexander. © Judy Chicago. Photo © Donald Woodman.

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA.- The Palmer Museum of Art presents Surveying Judy Chicago: Five Decades, a major exhibition charting the remarkable—and ongoing—career of the indefatigable Judy Chicago. One might add intrepid, controversial, and inspirational to the list of adjectives characterizing this artist whose name and considerable reputation are inextricably connected to the feminist art movement and whose magnum opus, The Dinner Party (1974–79)—the centerpiece of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum—remains one of the iconic works of the twentieth century.

Rather than pigeonholing her as a meteoric phenomenon and powerhouse of the 1970s, this five-decade survey considerably expands our understanding of the trajectory of Chicago’s career and reveals the remarkable breadth of her output from the late 1960s to the present. Early abstract spray paintings like Pasadena Lifesavers Yellow Series #1, 1969–70, demonstrate Chicago’s early exploration of industrial materials in the midst of the “Finish Fetish” movement, but also anticipate the pulsating vibrancy and “core imagery” that define much of her later work.

Chicago’s definitive shift to figuration in the years immediately following the popular success of The Dinner Party is amply demonstrated in the cosmically matrilineal Earth Birth (1983, from the Birth Project), a mural-scale piece produced in collaboration with textile and needlework artists; and Cartoon for The Fall (1987, from the Holocaust Project: From Darkness into Light), an equally monumental canvas signaling the artist’s renewed engagement with the human condition and an expanded, indeed global, context of injustice and oppression.

Surveying Judy Chicago: Five Decades features numerous works drawn from private collections, including a selection of test plates and thirty-nine process drawings for The Dinner Party; a suite of prints surveying her career; and recent sculptures in bronze and cast glass that confirm Chicago’s continued determination to discover or revisit processes that best serve her emotionally compelling, narrative-driven, multimedia works.The exhibition is part of the campus-wide celebration of the artist’s seventy-fifth birthday and the Judy Chicago Art Education Collection, an important collection of archival material on feminist art education now open to the public at the University Libraries.

Surveying Judy Chicago: Five Decades was organized by the museum in partnership with A.R.T. Corp.

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