Monday, August 26, 2013

Select African American Art Exhibitions: Fall Highlights for 2013

This highlight features a few exhibitions that are either opening or will still be on view in the the fall of 2013. Presenting the exhibitions as they approach their opening dates or shortly after opening, assures a freshness and currency of information for visual art enthusiasts. A number of important traveling exhibitions that opened earlier in the year are still being featured across the country and are accessible from the Blog page entitled: Select Art Exhibitions in 2013. This page is updated on a weekly basis by either adding newly discovered exhibitions or removing those that are approaching their expiration date. Its intent is to provide comprehensive coverage of current ongoing exhibitions on view for the current quarter of the year.

Black Art Project (BAP) welcomes any information or leads that you might have relating to Black art exhibitions, particularly regional exhibitions that are not traditionally marketed on a national scale. BAP will verify the accuracy of any information submitted. Thank you for any assistance that you provide.

Brooklyn, New York
Wangechi Mutu (Kenyan, b. 1972). Riding Death in My Sleep, 2002. Ink and collage on paper, 60" x 44". Collection of Peter Norton, New York. © Wangechi Mutu

Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey will be on view in the Elizabeth Sackler
Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum from October 11, 2013 through
March 9, 2014. This is Wangechi Mutu’s first survey in the United States; it is
the most comprehensive and innovative show yet for this internationally renowned, multidisciplinary artist.

More than 50 works from the mid-1990s to the present, including collage, drawing, sculpture, installation and video are featured in Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey. The exhibition features many of the artist’s most iconic collages drawn from major international collections, rarely seen early works and new creations. 

A richly illustrated, full-color catalogue accompanies the exhibition Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey.

College Park, Maryland
University of Maryland

Alison Saar, Weight, 2012, Fiberglass, wood, rope, cotton scale and miscellaneous objects, 80"x 65"x 24".
© Alison Saar, 2013. Image courtesy of LA Louver Gallery, Venice, CA.
Alison Saar: STILL..., a collection of 11 sculptures created by artist Alison Saar, includes works from 2010 to 2012 and combines the ruggedness of nature with solid structure; the exhibition includes four never-exhibited works and six new pieces. Alison Saar: STILL... will be on view at the David Driskell Center from September 12 through December 13, 2013.

Alison Saar’s work is deeply tied to her multiracial heritage, and it is through this lens which she so strikingly captures the human spirit. Through her sculptures, she displays the primal intensity of people underlying the civility of everyday life. Saar scrutinizes bigotry and historical burdens and portrays these concepts through a visual and kinesthetic tension, such as in the powerful piece titled Weight that shows a young black girl on a swing, weighed down with shackles, a lock and key, boxing gloves and other assorted items on a cotton scale. "Combining African art and ritual, Greek mythology, and German aspects of expressionism, Saar challenges stereotypes and offers an indictment of human discrimination." SEE more images from Alison Saar: STILL....

A catalogue accompanies this exhibition.

  Ithaca, New York
 Cornell University
 Johnson Museum of Art

Laylah Ali, Untitled, 2000, gouache and pencil on paper, Collection of Susan Greenberg Minster. Photo courtesy of the artist
Johnson Museum of Art presents Laylah Ali: The Greenheads Series. The exhibition will be on view September 14 through December 22, 2013. The Greenheads series - created between 1996 and 2005- will be shown as a comprehensive body of work. Over forty of these gouache paintings from a total of more than eighty have been gathered from collections to chronicle the series' development.

Laylah Ali: The Greenheads Series "chronicle the development of her dramatis personae—thin, round-headed two-dimensional beings of indeterminate sex and race—who anticipate, respond to, or enact unseen power struggles." The exhibition will allow viewers to examine the evolution of Ali’s series.

Madison, Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin–Madison Campus

Romare Bearden (1912–1988), Cattle of the Sun God, 1977, collage, © Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York. Courtesy Ann and Sheldon Vogel
Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey, featuring approximately 50 works, will be on view through November 24, 2013 at the Chazen Museum of Art. The museum will also organize extensive educational and community programming in conjunction with the exhibition. "In 1977, Romare Bearden created a series of collages and watercolors based on Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. Rich in symbolism and allegorical content, Bearden’s Odyssey series bridged classical mythology and African American culture. The series conveyed timelessness and the universality of the human condition, but was displayed for only two months in New York City before the works went to private collections and public art museums."

Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in cooperation with the Romare Bearden Foundation and Estate and DC Moore Gallery. It was curated by English and jazz scholar Robert G. O’Meally, the Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English and Comparative Literature and founder and former director of the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University. 

SEE exhibition related programs. A catalogue accompanies this exhibition.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Barbara Chase-Riboud, American, born 1939, All That Rises Must Converge / Red, 2008. Red bronze, silk, cotton, and synthetic fibers, 74 1/2" x 42" x 28", Base: 23 1/2" x 17 5/8". Courtesy of the Artist.
Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Malcolm X Steles will be on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from September 14, 2013 through January 20, 2014. The exhibition will bring together more than forty works from the United States and Europe that examine Barbara Chase-Riboud’s artistic career, focusing primarily on her important Malcolm X sculptures. See this exhibition in the following galleries: 172, 173, Alter Gallery 176, and Great Stair Hall.

Chase-Riboud’s sculptures dedicated to Malcolm X have been likened to contemporary interpretations of the steles erected in various parts of the ancient world to commemorate important people and events. Cast from cut and folded sheets of wax, the sculptures combine bronze, manipulated into undulating folds and crevices, with knotted and braided silk and wool fiber. 

The artist developed the first four sculptures in this series in 1969, inspired by the civil rights movement and her political and personal experiences living in France and traveling to North Africa, China, and the Soviet Union. Chase-Riboud returned to the series in 2003 and again in 2007–8, creating a total of nine additional works. Reconciling vertical and horizontal, mineral and organic, light and dark, the artist has forged in the Malcolm X steles powerful beacons dedicated to the possibility of cultural integration.

There is a catalogue, Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Malcolm X Steles, offering insightful assessments of the works in the exhibition and includes the artist's reflections in her own voice on her oeuvre. 

 Sacramento, California
Crocker Art Museum

Kara Walker, Untitled (Scene #5 from Emancipation Approximation portfolio), 1999–2000. Screenprint on paper, (7/20),   44" x 34".

Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker's Tales of Slavery and Power will be on view September 22, 2013 through January 5, 2014 at the Crocker Art Museum. 

Featuring 60 objects from the collection of the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, the exhibition demonstrates the artistic approach Walker takes to subject matter, historical narrative, and the complexities and ambiguities of racial and historical representation. To make her pursuit compelling, Walker radically reinvented the 19th-century silhouette portrait, elevating the practice of tracing onto and cutting out black paper figures into a formidable, grand format for her "nightmarish fictions."  

The graphic nature of the artist's work, both in content and format, moves from the wall to moving picture in this presentation of silhouettes, drawings, prints, and video. As race remains one of the most difficult conversations to have in America, this exhibition is especially timely amid the discourse on race today, 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. 

St. Louis, Missouri
Washington University in St. Louis
Rashid Johnson, Self Portrait Laying on Jack Johnson's Grave, 2006.
Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks is the first major solo museum exhibition to survey the career of this Chicago-born, New York-based artist. Featured in the Kemper Museum's Ebsworth Gallery, the exhibition will be on view September 20, 2013 - January 6, 2014.  Message to Our Folks, titled after a 1969 album by avant-garde jazz collective Art Ensemble of Chicago, the exhibition examines how Johnson's work has developed over the first fourteen years of his career.

"Johnson incorporates commonplace objects from his childhood into his work in a process he describes as hijacking the domestic. He transforms these materials—plants, books, record albums, photographs, shea butter, soap—into conceptually loaded and visually compelling art that investigates the construction of identity. Steeped in individual experience while invoking shared cultural references, Johnson's work also calls upon black American creative and intellectual figures, extending the legacy of these cultural icons."

A fully illustrated catalog, the most comprehensive documentation of Johnson’s work to date, accompanies the exhibition.  

Venice, California 

Alison, Saar, The Cotton Eater study (sugar sack shroud series), 2013
found sugar sacks, gesso, charcoal and graphite, 81" x 37". Image courtesy L.A. Louver, Venice, CA.
Alison Saar: Slough, featuring new sculptures and drawings created in 2013, will be on view at L A Louver Gallery from September 3 through October 5, 2013. The title of the exhibition, Slough, is defined as "a situation characterized by lack of progress," or "to cast off or shed dead skin." It is this duality of meaning, and a sense of both impasse and renewal, that pervades the 15 new works in the exhibition.

The Cotton Eater Study (sugar sack shroud series) is a large drawing measuring 81 x 37 inches rendered with charcoal and graphite on found cotton sugar sacks. This and other drawings on cotton panels from the sugar sack shroud series are on view in the exhibition. Another of those drawings, Backwater Blues, "which Saar created in New Orleans during her fellowship at the Joan Mitchell Foundation in April 2013. Dismayed by the lack of progress following the tragedy of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, Backwater Blues illustrates a woman clothed in a sheer slip gazing back as water rises above her ankles. Framed by a found screen door, the drawing sheds light on the media’s voyeuristic coverage of the devastation  following the hurricane, where footage of victims often disheveled and undressed, were broadcast without any regard for their dignity."

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