Exhibitions Elevate GundGAMBIER, Ohio (April 18, 2012)
The Graham Gund Gallery at Kenyon College premieres four new exhibitions on Thursday, April 19, including the work of acclaimed contemporary artist Kiki Smith.
In addition to Smith's show of books, prints and sculptures, the exhibitions include an exploration of the rural in American art, the photography of Indian artist Pushpamala N, and the sculptures of Jude E. Tallichet. A public reception opens the exhibitions from 5:00-7:00 p.m. on April 19 in the gallery lobby. Admission to the gallery is free.
Kiki Smith. Smith, for years, has uniquely charted both the observable and the invisible world. Through imagery of anatomy, animals, plant forms and celestial bodies, her work across multiple media documents the intersection between natural and spiritual. Focused on these themes, this show of books, prints and sculpture from the 1990s through 2011 celebrates Smith's ability to merge the fragility of the natural world with her own processes. Many of the works to be shown here were included in a 2003 Museum of Modern Art exhibition of Smith's work in New York City.
Persistence: The Rural in American Art. Featuring the work of artists as diverse as William Eggleston, Andrew Wyeth, John Frederick Kensett, Romare Bearden and Allan McCullom, Persistence explores rural themes in American visual culture from the 19th century to the present. Persistence offers viewers a provocative survey of American artists' engagement with rural life and the cultural echoes they encourage-from the heartland to Manhattan. From the masters of American landscape to the documentary photographers of the Works Progress Administration to the abstraction and experimentation of contemporary art, the rural reoccurs as a significant point of return in Persistence. At a time when rural populations and ways of life are threatened, this exhibition explores how rural life has shaped American art and the American experience. Persistence imagines the rural as more than a place. It considers its people and their traditions, its function as a cultural symbol, and its development as a complex theme across the country and throughout history.
Pushpamala N: The Ethnographic Series 2000-2004 (from the project Native Women of South India (Manners & Customs). The photographs of Indian artist Pushpamala N frustrate knowledge assumed through visual representation. The photographs are part of the Ethnographic Series 2000-2004 produced in collaboration with Clare Arni and were previously shown at Saatchi Gallery in London and the Bose Pacia Gallery in New York City and galleries throughout India. Her work simultaneously presents playful and politically strategic challenges to colonial-era modes of 19th-early 20th century ethnographic photography in India-a form of photography that sought to document types of people, their dress and native categories of labor. Placing herself in the role of subject, Pushpamala recreates the colonial sepia-toned gaze and its power relations while looking back at a viewer who must acknowledge that such photography cannot ultimately lead to knowledge of the subject or even a type she is meant to represent.
Jude E. Tallichet: Rowing in Eden. Part of Brooklyn-based artist Tallichet's ongoing exploration of post-apocalyptic imagery, the abandoned clothes of Rowing in Eden light-heartedly memorialize poetic moments of discarded objects, making art of what people leave behind. Cast in bronze, stone and hydrocal, these abandoned garments evoke compelling narratives of excitement and celebration, departure and interruption, and even violence and disappearance. They scatter across the gallery floor, as if just thrown off, whether in exhaustion or ecstasy. Just as clothes trace the margins of the physical body in action, Tallichet's sculptures measure the median between adornment and abandonment. Cast as sculptures in historic, resilient materials, they defy their woven models, arguing for a sense of permanence and durability in the face of constant loss. In their lumps and folds, they question our relationship and our responsibilities to our possessions, asking where animate ends and inanimate begins. Seriously playful and artfully tongue-in-cheek, their entertainment of multiple readings and interpretations parallels the same flexible relationship, and uncertain dominion, we hold over our own garments.
The exhibitions remain on view through July 22.
All four shows exemplify the interdisciplinary and collaborative exhibitions that define the Gund's core mission. They complement teaching across the College, from art history to American studies, history, studio art, literature, women's and gender studies, among others. The exhibitions also thoughtfully serve the interests and curriculum of local schools and community members. In addition to collaborations and visits from local school and 4-H groups, Persistence will be complemented by a community-based documentary photography project about the value of rural life today.