MOMA purchases work created in 1970s feminism art program at Fresno State

Nancy Youdelman (right) with her daughter (left) at the SFMOMA installation.

PHOTO: Nancy Youdelman (right) with her daughter (left) at the SFMOMA “I Tried Everything” installation.


The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City has purchased the installation “I Tried Everything” (1972) created by Fresno State alumnae Nancy Youdelman, Dori Atlantis, Jan Lester Martin, and Suzanne Lacy

“It took my breath away!” exclaimed Youdelman, alumna, artist and former instructor at Fresno State. “It is exhilarating and so validating to have it purchased by a world class art museum.” 

Nancy Youdelman's Facebook post announcing the sale to MOMA.
Nancy Youdelman’s Facebook post announcing the sale to MOMA.

Youdelman described her work as a tongue-in-cheek look at bust improvement in 1972.

“We ordered products from the backs of magazines, and I was the one who tried them out while Dori Atlantis did the photography,” Youdelman explained in a Facebook post announcing the sale to MOMA.

Their work came out of the groundbreaking feminist art program at Fresno State, which started as a class by visiting artist Judy Chicago and turned into a 15 unit program in 1971. The program was housed at an off-campus studio near Downtown Fresno. Rather than focusing on a particular medium, the program organized around feminist “consciousness raising.” 

Reflecting on her time in the off-campus studio in the early 70s, Youdelman said, “I am struck by the encouragement and life-changing skills I received from Judy Chicago.  By her example, I learned what it took to become a professional artist.”

2009 photo of the studio at 1275 Maple Ave. near Downtown Fresno.
2009 photo of the studio at 1275 Maple Ave. near Downtown Fresno.

In 1971, Chicago, along with artist Miriam Schapiro founded the Feminist Art Program at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), which many believe is the source of feminist art education, overlooking the Fresno State program founded the previous year. Following Chicago’s departure, the program was continued by Rita Yokoi for two years before Joyce Aiken ran the program from 1973 until her retirement in 1992. 

Youdelman said she kept the artwork in a banker box until 2009, when it was shown in a Fresno State exhibition “A Studio of Their Own: The Legacy of the Fresno Feminist Art Experiment” at the Phebe Conley Art Gallery. In 2019, “I Tried Everything” was displayed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) as part of Suzanne Lacy’s retrospective “We Are Here.”

“I Tried Everything” (1972) in the 2019 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) installation as part of Suzanne Lacy’s retrospective “We Are Here.”
“I Tried Everything” (1972) in the 2019 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) installation as part of Suzanne Lacy’s retrospective “We Are Here.”

Posted by

The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.