Judy Chicago – Grand Snake Arm 2
Dimensions: 23.5 x 24 x 21″ finished size / 23.5 x 24 x 21″ installation
Medium: etching, cold work, and gold-leaf on cast glass
Judy Chicago’s “Grand Snake Arm 2” is an image of strength that has been berated throughout history. The serpent was associated with the cult of Baal in ancient Near Eastern cultures, and was distorted into a symbol of evil associated with women by early Abrahamic religions.
Chicago is a diligent researcher, and has spent years investigating the symbolism associated with gender perceptions and equanimity in art. Chicago’s work with the medium of glass was inspired by her early exposure to male artists like Peter Voulkos and John Mason, who were elevating the medium of ceramics from that of craft to fine art. She sought to do the same thing with glass. Judy Chicago’s insistence upon equanimity not only in race and gender, but also in material, is the trademark of her artistic career.
Judy Chicago is one of the most important artists of our time. As Gloria Steinem appropriately says, art history can be defined as before and after Judy Chicago. It is impossible to overstate–perhaps even to adequately articulate–the importance of Judy Chicago in the realm of women artists. During her 50 year career, she fought the battle as a woman artist in a male-dominated art world, sometimes as the only one, because it was simply too abusive to be a woman insisting upon equal due for your work in an environment where no one wanted you there. Because Judy Chicago fought back, women artists can now all stand stronger in the art world. Her “Study for Flaming Fist” is in my estimation, Chicago’s elegy to the unbridled power of women’s work in art.
One of Chicago’s “Grand Snake Arm” works will be highlighted in her upcoming career retrospective at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.