Mahaney Arts Center 125
72 Porter Field Road
Middlebury, VT 05753
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Open to the Public

photo:Judy Chicago, Purple Atmosphere, Santa Barbara California, 1969

Air and Danger circa 1970: Judy Chicago’s Southern California Atmospheres

In 1969, Judy Chicago (then Gerowitz) began a series of aeriform works she called Atmospheres. These ephemeral interventions propelled billowing clouds of colored smoke into the air at locations around Los Angeles, where the artist was based. Chicago produced about a dozen such works through the early 1970s, while developing the feminist aesthetics for which she became best known. In recent years, Chicago has returned to pyrotechnical media, garnering considerable press for ambitiously orchestrated events of radically expanded scale and grandeur. The origins of the series, however, are not well understood. What were the stakes of these works in the late 1960s, when “smog alerts” made Southern California headlines on a nearly daily basis, and when forms of air delivered violence galvanized the antiwar movement? In the spring of 1970, these questions came to a head on a college campus where Chicago presented three Atmospheres coinciding with student antiwar protests and the first Earth Day celebration.

Co-sponsored by the Johnson Enrichment Fund 

Sponsored by:
History of Arts and Architecture

Contact Organizer

Vazquez, Edward A.