Advanced Search

Eureka, or What’s a Mother For? [from the series Nuclear Waste(d)]

Eureka, or What’s a Mother For? [from the series Nuclear Waste(d)]

Artist: Judy Chicago (American, born 1939)
Date: 1989
Medium: sprayed acrylic, oil and photography on photolinen
Dimensions:
Support: 16 x 20 in. (40.6 x 50.8 cm)
Frame: 21 1/2 x 25 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. (54.6 x 64.8 x 3.8 cm)
Classification: Painting
Credit Line: Gift of Judy Chicago and Donald Woodman, 2011
Keywords and Associated Locations:
Object number: 2011.11.7
Description
In the Nuclear Waste(d) series, Judy Chicago addresses the negative consequences of the nuclear industry in New Mexico, the birthplace of the atomic bomb. These are collaborative works that employ photographs by Donald Woodman of various nuclear-related sites throughout the state, that were then painted on by Judy Chicago. Among the sites the series addresses are the Trinity Site, where the first atomic bomb was detonated; Grants, where much of the uranium was mined for the bombs, causing great health and environmental problems for the Native Americans upon whose lands the mines are located; and WIPP, the waste site in southern New Mexico. Eureka, or What’s a Mother For? pictures the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico, which is shown disposing of radioactive waste into the earth as a man in the top of one of the building’s towers ponders something and remarks, “Eureka.” Chicago’s reference to a mother figure in her title can be interpreted as a lament for the violence done to the land, imagined as a female body (Mother Earth), by the radioactivity; or to the saying “Necessity is the mother of all invention,” suggesting that the scientist or engineer pictured in the “ivory tower” has used his knowledge and expertise to invent something destructive.
Not on view
Publication and Exhibition History: 1992: Too Hot To Handle: Art & Nuclear Issues, Copeland Rutherford Gallery, Santa Fe