Judy Chicago’s Birth Project: Born Again

June 17, 2018-October 7, 2018

“If men had babies, there would be thousands of images of the crowning.”

– Judy Chicago, 1982

Between 1980 and 1985, artist Judy Chicago (b. 1939) and a team of 150 female needleworkers completed eighty-four textile and needle media works that analyzed the interrelationships among motherhood, maternity, femaleness, and gender. Chicago’s subsequent book, The Birth Project, catalogued the artworks and their production and sought to reveal birth as spiritual and intellectual, a source of potent myth and symbol. The project included images of childbirth that afforded a vision seldom seen in western culture since the Neolithic Age, when women embodied creation itself as well as the many manifestations of individual creation, yet it also showed birth as physical and real.

The Birth Project body of work, which was decades ahead of its time, is timely and relevant as society experiences a renewed interest in maternal and female bodies. In contrast to political and scientific developments as well as cultural norms, which re-emphasize women’s bodies as commodities, all of Chicago’s bodies are empowered female symbols. Her imagery encourages viewers to perceive women in unaccustomed ways and offers women powerful symbols with which to identify.

This exhibition reassembles approximately fifteen of the most exceptional Birth Project works, examining both past and present attitudes towards female empowerment and sexuality and underscoring Chicago’s redefinition of the terms art and craft. By presenting the works thirty-plus years after their creation, the exhibition emphasizes the role art can play in giving voice to the ongoing process of social change, particularly in regards to both reproductive choice and health care.

Judy Chicago’s Birth Project: Born Again is organized by Through the Flower in conjunction with the Albuquerque Museum of Art and the Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts, curated by Viki D. Thompson Wylder, and accompanied by a brochure. The exhibition is supported by the PMCA Board of Directors and PMCA Ambassador Circle.

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