April 11, 2021 Taos, New Mexico

The Harwood Museum of Art

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Sunday, June 2 - Sunday, November 10, 2019

Judy Chicago: The Birth Project from New Mexico Collections

Galleries: George E. Foster, Jr. Gallery of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, Mandelman-Ribak Gallery, and Caroline Lee and Bob Ellis Gallery
: Judy Chicago, Myth Quilt 2, Birth Project, 1984, quilting and applique, 81 x 103 inches. Executed by Sally Babson; collection of University of New Mexico Art Museum.Judy Chicago, Mother India, 1985, painting, applique, and embroidery on fabric, 127 x 96 in. © Judy ChicagoJudy Chicago, Logo from the Birth Project, 1984, embroidery, 11 x 8 in. © Judy ChicagoJudy Chicago, Birth Tear/Tear, 1984, macrame over drawing on fabric, 46 x 55.5 in. © Judy ChicagoJudy Chicago, Birth Garment 4, 1984 Quilting Quilting by Linda Gaughenbaugh, applique by Sally Babson. 41 ½ x 41 in. Collection of University of New Mexico Art Museum,Judy Chicago, Bith Filet Crochet, 1984. 94x225 inches. Needlework by Dolly KaminskiJudy Chicago, Birth Power, 1984, Embroidery over drawing on silk, 20 x 20 inches. Needlework by Sandie AbelJudy Chicago, Birth Trinity, 1985, Serigraph on Stonehenge natural White, 30 x 40 inches, ed. 75Judy Chicago, Earth Birth, 1985, Serigraph on black Arches, 30 x 40 inches
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View Judy Chicago Birth Project Gallery Guide (20-page PDF, 2.7MB)

The Harwood Museum, founded in 1923 by Lucy Case Harwood, has a history of exhibiting work by women. In 2018, director Richard Tobin had all art by male artists removed and filled every gallery with “Work by Women: From the Collections.” In 2016, the museum’s galleries were filled with “Mabel Dodge Luhan & Company: American Moderns and The West.” In 2012 two exhibitions, “Agnes Martin: Before the Grid” and “Bea Mandelman: The Social Realist Prints,” were mounted to celebrate the centennial year of both artists’ birth. And, one of the top art destinations for contemporary art collectors is the Agnes Martin Gallery, a permanent installation gifted to the Harwood by Martin before her death in 2004.

In 2019, the museum presents work by one of the leading women artists working in the US today. Judy Chicago.

Between 1980 and 1985, feminist artist Judy Chicago collaborated with more than 150 needle workers throughout the country to create nearly 100 artworks combining painting and needlework that celebrate the birth process – from the painful to the mythical. The series celebrates the birth-giving capacity of women along with their creative spirit. In the 35 years since the project was completed, Birth Project works have been exhibited in over 100 venues around the country.

This exhibition, with its dozen-plus needle works and like number of drawings and prints on paper, is unique in that all the work lives in New Mexico, as does the artist herself – in Belen. It is also a coming home of sorts, as part of the Birth Project was implemented here in Taos: Chicago’s graphics team produced exhibition signage and the project book, Birth Project, 1985, Doubleday, in Taos. The Harwood’s exhibition draws from the museum’s own collection as well as from the University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque Museum, Through the Flower, Judy Chicago’s non-profit feminist art organization, the artist and several private collections.

“This is a serendipitous moment for an exhibition of Birth Project pieces in New Mexico,” said art writer and activist Lucy Lippard, also a New Mexico resident. “This is a moment when the world is belatedly recognizing Chicago’s art and when the debate on women's control over their own bodies is current, again. Judy has lived in the state for decades and is the recipient of a Governor’s Award for the Arts. Beyond New Mexico, she has starred on magazine covers, spent time with royalty, won awards, shown in endless museums and is the subject of books, including a biography. Yet this work will be new to most of the audience and to young feminists,” she said. Coincidently, Lippard has curated an exhibition that hangs in the museum throughout the time Birth Project is on view: Alicia Stewart: Unfinished . . .

Judy Chicago was born in 1939 in Chicago, Illinois. She is an artist, author, feminist, educator, and intellectual whose career now spans five decades. Gloria Steinem stated in Interview magazine (2017), “Chicago is not only a pioneer of feminist art; she is arguably its founder, inventor, and chief figurehead.” She lives and works in Belen, New Mexico.

Pictured in masthead: Mandelman Ribak Gallery installation. Above, Judy Chicago photo (c) Donald Woodman/Artists Rights Society, NY.