Judy Chicago: Judy Chicago In Glass

November 30th, 2021 - January 15th, 2022

Judy Chicago in Glass marks the iconic artist’s second solo exhibition at Nina Johnson. Opening November 30th in the upstairs gallery, this exhibition includes works from Chicago’s glass series, alongside drawings, and the debut of Mortality in Glass, Chicago’s largest glass work to date. On the gallery sculpture pad, Chicago will present Zig Zag, a newly produced powder coated steel rendition of the original minimalist sculpture created in 1965. What links this work to the later pieces is color, surface, and visual rigor.

Predominantly featured in the gallery are Chicago’s sculptures from two series: Head’s Up and Hands from the early 2000’s when she began working in glass with the goal of transforming it from its decorative origins, something she has done with numerous other techniques. Chicago has worked in glass for over a decade combining glass with other techniques. The works in this exhibition focus on her cast glass and kiln painted images of hands in emotive gestures ranging from the raised fist of protest or triumph to the vulnerability of an outstretched palm, along with selected portrait busts, each conveying the mental state of the sitter: sometimes somber, sometimes exposed. The forms echo the characteristics of the glass used to create them, which can be both incredibly strong or fragile. This association between the physical material of the works and the physicality of their subjects, the human form, is even more directly depicted in a series of cast glass Toby Mugs in which the human form literally becomes a vessel.

One of the newest works in the exhibition is Mortality in Glass, cast from the original mold for the bronze relief included in Chicago’s most recent major body of work, The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, featured prominently in her first ever career retrospective currently at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. This deeply personal and moving piece depicts the artist resting peacefully on her own death bed. While the bronze version recalls monumental sculpture, the softly pink hued cast glass evokes the more ethereal side of death and the human soul.

Linking all of the works in the exhibition, which also includes several studies on paper, is the artist’s keen sense of the emotive power of color and her unwavering dedication to craft. Throughout her entire career, Chicago has not only chosen her media to compliment and emphasize the content and meaning of her works, but has pushed the materials and techniques to their limits in order to do so. The works in this exhibition employ a variety of glass techniques: casting, etching, glass painting, copper gilding and in some instances combining glass with bronze, a very technically challenging process.

Judy Chicago in Glass will remain on view through January 15th, 2022.

  • Judy Chicago Hand Drawing Nina Johnson
    Hand on Fire (Hands - Studies/Ancillaries), 2004, prismacolor on black arches, 12 x 15.75 in.
Judy Chicago

Judy Chicago (born 1939, Chicago IL) is an artist and author of fifteen books. Her most recent book, The Flowering: The Autobiography of Judy Chicago,  was published in 2021 by Thames and Hudson and includes an introduction by Gloria Steinem. Her career spans almost six decades during which time she has produced a prodigious body of art that has been exhibited all over the world. In the 1970’s, she pioneered feminist art and feminist art education in a series of programs in southern California. She is best known for her monumental, The Dinner Party, a symbolic history of women in Western Civilization executed between 1974-79. The piece has been viewed by millions of people since its creation and is now permanently housed as the centerpiece of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum. 

Subsequent bodies of work have addressed issues of birth and creation in the Birth Project; the construct of masculinity in PowerPlay; the horrors of genocide in the Holocaust Project which she collaborated on with her husband, photographer Donald Woodman; and most recently, mortality and humankind’s relationship to and destruction of the Earth in The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction which debuted at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC in 2019. 

Her work is in numerous collections and her ongoing influence continues to be acknowledged worldwide. Over the course of her career Chicago has remained steadfast in her commitment to the power of art as a vehicle for intellectual transformation and social change and to women’s right to engage in the highest level of art production. As a result, she has become a symbol for people everywhere, known and respected as awn artist, writer, teacher, feminist and humanist whose work and life are models for an enlarged definition of art, an expanded role for the artist, and women’s right to freedom of expression. In 2018 she was named one of Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People’ and Artsy magazine’s ‘Most Influential Artists’. In 2019, she received the Visionary Woman award from the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and was an honoree at the annual Hammer Museum gala in Los Angeles. In 2020 she was honored by the Museum of Arts and Design at their annual MAD Ball. Her first career retrospective opened in August, 2021 at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

Among many other institutions, Chicago’s work is in the collections of the British Museum, Moderna Museet (Stockholm), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), National Gallery (Washington DC), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, Hammer Museum, Getty Trust and Getty Research Institute, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Tate Modern, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Art Institute of Chicago, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.