In her introduction to the catalogue of her seminal show “Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists” Lucy Lippard writes: “I took on this show because I knew there were so many women whose work was as good or better than that currently being shown, but who, because of the prevailingly discriminatory policies of most galleries and museums, can rarely get anyone to visit their studios or take them as seriously as their male counterparts.” Over the course of several years Lippard selects from hundreds of studio visits in the New York area 26 artists for her show at the Aldrich, including such masters as Mary Heilmann, Howardena Pindell, Adrian Piper, and Shirley Pettibone amongst others.
For this occasion Pettibone takes over the famous staircase of the museum with works developed since the late 60’s which can best be described in the words of Lucy Lippard as “Soft Sculpture.” The pieces consist of stuffed muslin tubes that are painted with acrylic defying many ideas pertaining to abstraction, formalism, painting and sculpture. Also shown, paintings made on unstretched strips of cotton that are sewn and freely hung on the wall.
A year later Shirley Pettibone reprises the works in an installation at Ivan Karps NY Hundred Acres Gallery. The exhibition features other muslin works titled “Stained Batting” and flag like paintings on cotton.
In 2022, Chief curator Amy Smith-Stewart organizes “52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone” a revisited version of the original Lucy Lippard show at the Aldrich that includes the original artists and 26 new artists that describes themselves as female identifying or nonbinary emerging artists.