A T M O S P H E R E S
Chicago began using pyrotechnics in the late 1960s in order to feminize the atmosphere and the land, which, in Southern California, were dominated by boys and the hard, slick lines of their cars. From overpasses to parking lots and the deserts outside Los Angeles, Chicago brought colorful smoke, often emitting from empowered nude female bodies, to the harsh and masculinist landscape. Chicago continues to use multichromatic flares and fireworks for increasingly large-scale commissions, such as A Butterfly for Brooklyn (2015) in Prospect Park and A Purple Poem for Miami (2019). As Chicago writes in Through the Flower: My Struggle as a Woman Artist, her journey to learn about pyrotechnics were met with sexist violence and harassment, but the use of fireworks was nevertheless fulfilling artistically and personally, becoming a “release” for Chicago as she allowed the personal to manifest in her work.