The exhibition was precipitated by the museum's acquisition of Graves’s Grand Canyon of Mars—5,000 kilometers along Martian Equator, 1973. Later in the decade, the Albright-Knox organized an important traveling retrospective of the artist's work, Nancy Graves: A Survey 1969–1980.
Nancy Graves worked across a diverse array of mediums, including sculpture, painting, print-making, and film. The exhibition Nancy Graves: Drawings, 1971–1973 featured twenty-six of the artist’s recent drawings. All the drawings related to Graves’s films, three of which—Izy Boukir, 1970; Aves: Magnificent Frigate Bird, Great Flamingo, 1973; Reflections on the Moon, 1974—were screened as part of the exhibition opening. The artist herself was in attendance at the screening and provided commentary on the films, describing how they all related to her ongoing interest in mapping. “The map is a systematic presentation on a surface of the nature and distribution of phenomena in space,” the artist commented. “Maps and charts visualize what is abstract in nature as well as what is too immense to be seen.”