How Judy Chicago Helped Women Make Strides in the Art World

By Katie Jackson | December 7, 2018 | Culture

Behind Judy Chicago's strikingly powerful photographs is an even more impressive message.

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When we reflect back on the year 2018, women killed it. We elected more than 100 women into Congress, we made strides in the movement against sexual violence, and our Queen Beyoncé was the first black woman to headline Coachella. Ariana Grande is right: “God is a woman!”

But for every strong woman in the limelight today is a posse of strong women who have helped to pave the way. Judy Chicago, artist, activist and all-around badass, is one of those women.

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The year was 1968. Chicago was living in Los Angeles, a city with an art scene dominated by males who failed to recognize female talent. Chicago did what every great artist does: She used her frustration as motivation. The result was the first installment of the Atmosphere series. As an attempt to bring feminine energy to the city, Chicago used fog machines to produce a thin white veil over Pasadena. Then she took it a step further and used fireworks and tinted smoke to expel a large orange cloud at L.A.’s Brookside Park. The following year, she used the same technique with purple smoke in Santa Barbara. The series continued into the early 1970s, when Chicago began including women whose bodies were painted with bright, feminine colors.

As women’s rights made strides, so did the series. Chicago briefly brought it back in 2012 and has plans to revive it again in the future. Until then, you can see never-before-exhibited photos of Chicago in all of her girl-power glory at the Nina Johnson gallery, now through January.



Photography by: PHOTOS COURTESY OF NINA JOHNSON