at the Pasadena Museum of California Art
through October 7 (upon which time the museum will permanently close)
Reviewed by Emily Nimptsch
“If men had babies, there would be thousands of images of the crowning.” — Judy Chicago, 1982
Since 2002, East Union Street’s illustrious Pasadena Museum of California Art has reliably showcased some of the city’s most vibrant, eclectic, and socially-conscious exhibitions, including 2018’s The Feminine Sublime and Testament of the Spirit: Paintings by Eduardo Carrillo. As a modern and contemporary art hub renowned for presenting Southern California’s finest art and artists, this progressive artspace has undoubtedly elevated Los Angeles’s cultural discourse over the course of its 16-year run. With the recent news that the PMCA board has decided to close this beloved museum following the conclusion of its current exhibition, Judy Chicago’s Birth Project: Born Again, in October due to fundraising issues, witnessing this exquisite collection of Chicago’s rarely-seen feminist tapestries from the early 1980s in this transcendent, sublime location is now all the more important.
Prominently featuring women’s achievements, experiences, and vaginal imagery reclaimed to represent strength and power, Judy Chicago’s iconic conceptual sculptures, paintings, tapestries, and mixed media installations resist the patriarchy with a searing intensity. Deeply inspired by the second-wave feminist movement of the 1960s, the artist resolved to capture the puissance of this progressive movement through her highly personal artwork. She wholeheartedly rejected minimalism due to its remote, indifferent nature and association with the male-dominated art world at the time. In response, she forged her own path, espousing mediums, such as needlework and embroidery, which male artists and critics have historically rebuffed as “women’s crafts.”
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