Spotlight: Thelma Golden

As a black woman curator in an overwhelming white male art world, Golden has long fostered art that burns with racial and gender issues.” Joyce Corrigan, Artnet

Born in 1965 in Queens, New York, Golden is one of today’s most notable museum curator’s.

Golden’s childhood love of museums put her on the fast track to becoming a driving force in the art world. Her first hands-on training came as a senior in high school, when she trained as a curatorial apprentice at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She went on to earn a BA in Art History and African-American Studies from Smith College in 1987. Golden’s first curatorial position was at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1987. Then, in 1991, Thelma took a position at the Whitney Museum of American Art where she remained until 1999.

Her most heralded contributions have been her 1993 Whitney Biennial collaboration. The Biennial took controversial look at America and tough social issues such as race, gender, sexuality, AIDS, and gay rights. Just a few years later there was Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art, where 29 minority artists displayed works that illustrated the current conceptions of black masculinity. The artists were black men, such as Gary Simmons, and Lyle Ashton Harris; black women, such as Adrian Piper, Lorna Simpson, and Renee Cox; and a few Asian, Hispanic, and white artists to provide a multitude of perspectives. The exhibition also incorporated film, video, and media and was accompanied by an extensive catalogue.

Currently, Golden is the director and chief curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem. And on the boards of Creative Time in New York and the Institute of International Visual Arts in London.

Thelma Golden, you rock!

Learn more about Thelma Golden at these great resources:
The Black List Project
TED (Ideas worth sharing) Thelma speaks on How Art gives shape to cultural change.

photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

SPOTLIGHT: Conceptual Artist Yinka Shonibare, MBE

Yinka Shonibare, MBE — the MBE stands for Most Excellent Order of the British Empire —is a British-Nigerian artist living in London. His work explores cultural identity, colonialism and post-colonialism within the contemporary context of globalization. Shonibare, is best known for his whimsical life-sized mannequins dressed in vivid Dutch-wax (African prints and patterns) fabrics.  The costumes are usually Victorian, the Victorian era being the period of British history when Africa was colonized.  The Dutch-wax period costumes are really an Indonesian-designed fabric called, batik that has become popularly assimilated into West African culture. As his work continues to take on the authenticity of historical moments, the fabrics that were originally to be used to connote African identity, not really being originally from Africa are a constant ironic coincidence – working to his advantage as a conceptual artist.

The sculptures add a lightness to addressing weighty themes including race, enlightenment, capitalism, authenticity and least of all identity.  You’ll notice that the mannequins are headless, it’s so the figures aren’t racially identifiable. The fiberglass bodies are mixed race, “kind of coffee colored,” Mr. Shonibare said that he conceived of the headlessness as a joke related to the revenge killings of aristocrats in the French Revolution. “The idea of bringing back the guillotine was very funny to me,” he said.*

Throughout the past decade, Shonibare has shown his distinctive pieces extensively from the United States to Hong Kong, with notable exhibitions including mid-career retrospective at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art.

–>Take a look below at some of the pieces from Shonibare, MBE’s exhibitions as we offer quotes from the artist himself about his inspiration:

 

SPOTLIGHT: Conceptual Artist Yinka Shonibare, MBE Sculpture, Cakeman II

Called Cake Man (II), it features a lifesize mannequin dressed in African print, with a huge pile of cakes balanced precariously on his back. “It’s my tribute to bankers,” said Shonibare. “There’s been a lot of talk about bonuses to bankers and the top 1% literally taking all the cake. So this piece, I guess, is about greed. It has more cakes than anyone could ever eat or manage.”

 

Yinka Shonibare MBE, The Swing (After Fragonard), 2001 (Tate, London) © Yinka Shonibare. The Swing (After Fragonard) is a three-dimensional recreation of the Rococo painting after which it was titled, which itself offers testimony to the opulence and frivolity of pre-Revolutionary France. Painted in 1767, Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s The Swing depicts a coquettish young girl swinging in a lush and fertile forest and, of course, playfully kicking up her shoe. “Living in England, with my colonial relationship to this country, one cannot escape all these Victorian things, because they are everywhere: in architecture, culture, attitude…” – Yinka Shonibare

 

“Gallantry and Criminal Conversation (Parasol),” 2002 Two life-size fiberglass mannequins, two metal and wood cases, Dutch wax printed cotton, leather, wood, and steel, 64 1/5 x 44 1/10 x 75 4/5 inches Collection of Beth Rudin DeWoody, New York Photo by Werner Maschmann © Yinka Shonibare MBE

 
“Being able to indulge in your fantasies really belongs to the privileged and the wealthy. I was fascinated with the fashion that comes with that luxury and excess, and I wanted to produce a piece that would be slightly surreal and also a bit of satire as well—poking fun at the whole thing, but also loving it at the same time. It’s not sexually explicit. Really it’s about people having a sense of humor.” -Yinka Shonibare MBE

SPOTLIGHT: Conceptual Artist Yinka Shonibare, MBE

“How to Blow Up Two Heads at Once (Ladies),” a 2006 work by Yinka Shonibare with mannequins, guns, Dutch wax-printed cotton textile, shoes, boots and plinth. Credit Steve White/Museum Purchase, Wellesley College Friends of Art

SPOTLIGHT: Conceptual Artist Yinka Shonibare, MBE

SPOTLIGHT: Conceptual Artist Yinka Shonibare, MBE

“He reminds us that every action has ramifications. A girl sprouting butterfly wings, and a male figure outfitted in a spacesuit with his worldly possessions strapped to his back. They are poised for takeoff to  escape the mess we have made on Earth and begin anew elsewhere—hopefully having learned from history, so as not to repeat our mistakes.” – —Karen Kedmey via Artsy Editoral, “Yinka Shonibare’s Haunting New Sculptures and Installations Present a Link Between Climate Change and Our Dark History”

Yinka Shonibare MBE’s The Last Supper Exploded is based on a sculpture of the same name first on view at the artist’s solo show Pop! at Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, 2013. The exhibition’s main themes explored corruption, excess and debauchery in contemporary society, with particular reference to the most recent on-going economic crisis. In The Last Supper Exploded, Shonibare investigates the worship of luxury goods and the reckless behaviour of in particular the financial industry by paying art historical homage to one of humanity’s best known artworks: Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.

 

Yinka Shonibare [Website] [Twitter]

*quote taken from, Headless Bodies From a Bottomless Imagination – The New York Times

 

SEE IT NOW:

  • Until June 2017 a commission by artist Yinka Shonibare, produced by Up Projects for the Royal Opera House. Titled ‘Globe Head Ballerina’, on display on the exterior of the building overlooking Russell Street.  The work is inspired by a famous photograph of ballerina Margot Fonteyn. Shonibare’s sculpture depicts a life-size ballerina, modelled on Melissa Hamilton, a soloist with the Royal Ballet. Encased in a giant ‘snow globe’, the figure, whose head is a replica Victorian globe, rotates slowly.

    Spotlight: Yinka Shonibare MBE

    photo:Sim Canetty-Clarke, courtesy UP Projects ROH
    ‘Globe Head Ballerina’ by Yinka Shonibare

The More You Know:

Spotlight: Whitfield Lovell


Whitfield Lovell is a contemporary artist known primarily for his drawings and masterful installations based on vintage photographs of unidentified African Americans from the first half of the 20th century (usually between the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Movement). 

Lovell creates these drawings in pencil, oil stick, or charcoal on paper, wood, or directly on walls. In his most recent work, these drawings are paired with found objects that Lovell collects at flea markets and antique shops –  with these found objects he evokes personal memories, ancestral connections, and the collective American past.

Lovell’s work illuminates the humanity and richness of anonymous people, engraining their legacies in our cultural memory.*
“The importance of home, family, ancestry feeds my work entirely,” Lovell has said. “African Americans generally were not aware of who their ancestors were, since slaves were sold from plantation to plantation and families were split up.”

The More You Know:

Lovell’s major installations include: Visitation: The Richmond Project, which traveled to the University of Wyoming in Laramie, the Columbus Museum in Georgia, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Australia; SANCTUARY: The Great Dismal Swamp at the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia in Virginia Beach, VA; and Grace: A Project by Whitfield Lovell at the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York City.

Works by Whitfield Lovell are featured in major museum collections including The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY: The Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC; The Smithsonian American Art Museum, DC; The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, DC; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, PA; The Yale University Art Gallery; The Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN; The Brooklyn Museum, NY; The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; Seattle Art Museum, WA, and many others.

*information culled from Whitfield Lovell’s bio.

 

Bella Umbrella by Tim Tadder

Bella Umbrella Tim Tadder

Bella Umbrella Tim Tadder

Bella Umbrella Tim Tadder

‘Bella Umbrella’ is another breathtaking personal series by talented image maker Tim Tadder.

“Combining vintage umbrellas and fashions, with military smoke. A personal art series bringing together items never combined in a series. Images were shot on large format digital for display prints.”

Wardrobe: Julia Reeser, Umbrella by Bella Umbrella, Hair and Make by Dezi V and Natalie Bohlin.

via [Inspiration Grid]

Bella Umbrella Tim Tadder

Bella Umbrella Tim Tadder

Bella Umbrella Tim Tadder

 

SPOTLIGHT: CONCEPTUAL ARTIST GLENN LIGON

 

Glenn Ligon is an American conceptual artist whose work explores race, language, and identity by engaging the subjects within wordplay. Sourcing literary gems from influential writers including, Zora Neal Hurston, Gertrude Stein, and James Baldwin, he uses language and textual experiments with legibility and eligibility to speak on challenging subject matters. His medium of choice—oil crayon used with letter stencils—transforms the texts he quotes, making them abstract, difficult to read, and layered in meaning, much like the subject matter that he appropriates.  For the viewer, the words slowly dissipate into powerful messages as the text begins to blur and morph into a larger meaning.

His later work with text-based neon signs crossed that bridge – finding a connection between the illuminated signs  and his text heavy paintings that move his message on our collective experiences forward.  Repetition is often a highlight in his work self expression;  to promote a  progression of clarity in his thoughts and meditations.

Ligon’s paintings and sculptures continue to examine cultural and social identity through found sources—literature, Afrocentric coloring books, photographs—to reveal the ways in which the history of slavery, the civil rights movement, and sexual politics inform our understanding of American society.

 

 

Glenn Ligon_ Untitled

Glenn Ligon – Untitled (I’m Turning Into a Specter before Your Very Eyes and I’m Going to Haunt You)

Stand there long enough to realize that you are re-reading a single phrase; Ligon’s repetition of this phrase begins to dissipate into a powerful message as the words begin to blur and disappears into a bigger meaning.

 

 

The More You Know:

  • VIDEO – Watch Glenn Ligon as he explains some of his more widely-known pieces.
  • VIDEO – Watch Curator Thelma Golden and Glenn Ligon in Conversation.
  • The Whitney Museum holds the largest collection of Ligon’s work.  Visit their website for a listen & learn of influential pieces in their collection.

Spotlight: Photographer Carrie Mae Weems

Carrie Mae Weems, 2013 MacArthur Fellow_ Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

American photographer and video artist, Carrie Mae Weems works with text, fabric, audio, digital images, and installation video but is best known for her work in the field of photography. Weems’s gift for storytelling enables her to investigate the intricacies of family relationships and gender roles, as well as the histories of racism, sexism, class and political systems.

In her Kitchen Table Series, she staged these snips of everyday domesticity and stretched them into long unspooling questions about our identity within relationships. Within every stunning black & white image of a sparse kitchen, Weems fills up the space with astute introspection into connected themes and human experiences.

“The camera gave me an incredible freedom. It gave me the ability to parade through the world and look at people and things very, very closely,” Weems reveals. This ability to embody the spirit of her stories makes her work transcendent, moving across time and place as only the soul can.

Carrie Mae Weem The Kitchen Table Series Carrie Mae Weem The Kitchen Table Series Carrie Mae Weem The Kitchen Table Series

“The Kitchen Table Series is not simply a voice for African-American women, but would be a voice for more generally all women… these ideas about the spaces of domesticity has historically belonged to women. It is sort of the site of the battle around the family, the battle around monogamy, the battle around polygamy, the battle between the sexes – it’s going to be played out in that space.  It begs the question, ‘how do we begin to alter the domestic space’?  How does the social contract get changed?

In helping us seek a shared connection with traditional narratives, –this relationship between power and aesthetics magnifies Weems own truths; her spirit captured there in the lens.

Carrie Mae Weem The Kitchen Table Series

Carrie Mae Weems [official website] [Facebook]

The More You Know:

  • Carrie Mae Weem’s, The Kitchen Table Series.
  • Guggenheim Museum’s website hosts videos featuring live performances, an all-star cast joined Carrie Mae Weems to celebrate the spirit and ideas found within Weems’s photography and video works.

ULLA STINA WIKANDER: EVERYTHING OLD MADE NEW AGAIN

Ulla Stina Wikander cross stich embroidery

Ulla Stina Wikander cross stich embroidery

Artist Ulla Stina Wikander uses cross stitch embroidery to create a new skin for everyday objects. Finding older, outdated technology, and furniture, she lines them with colorful embroidery that’s just as old (or older). “The cross-stitch designs I have collected for many years,” she explains, “and placing them in a new context allows them to change.”

Ulla Stina Wikander cross stich embroidery

via [My Modern Met]

SPOTLIGHT: Norman Rockwell and Ruby Bridges

Norman Rockwell and Ruby Bridges

In 1963, Norman Rockwell confronted the issue of prejudice head-on with one of his most powerful paintings, The Problem We All Live With.  At the time editorial policies governed the placement of minorities in his illustrations (restricting them to service industry positions only). The painting was a clear indicator that Rockwell was supporting equality and tolerance.

I’ve heard it said that Norman Rockwell was safe because he strayed away from depicting any direct social commentary in his work — his painting of a six-year-old Ruby Bridges being escorted to school amidst the chaos of protestors that didn’t agree with the United States Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education says otherwise. That unpopular ruling that declared the state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students were unconstitutional, that could not be more frankly expressed than in this emotional tribute to courage.

*“The Problem We All Live With,” Norman Rockwell, 1963 Oil on canvas, 36” x 58” Illustration for “Look,” January 14, 1964 Licensed by Norman Rockwell Licensing, Niles, IL. From the permanent collection of Norman Rockwell Museum*

Learn More:

Learn more about that landmark United States Supreme Court case at PBS/The Supreme Court — Expanding Civil Rights.

Spotlight: Nick Cave

Artist Nick Cave

World-renowned artist, Nick Cave once danced with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre before pursuing visual art studies. Now as a notable educator, and artist he continues to expand his repertoire of monikers: performance artist, sculptor, dancer, fiber artist, fabric sculptor….

His work melds art, fashion and dance together in otherworldly, dreamlike sculptures – most recognizably, his ritualistic costumes called “Soundsuits”: bright wearable embellished fabric sculptures that make sounds when worn. These sculpted, textured full body soundsuits layered in colorful metal, plastic, fabric, hair, and other objects designed to rattle and resonate with the movement of the wearer, usually Cave himself.

The soundsuits hide gender, race and class, forcing you to observe without judgment. They are sometimes sedentary, standing quiet as a more traditional piece of sculpture set in place within an institution or displayed at an art fair. However, sometimes they are in movement – alive in motion, engaging you in a joined narrative. The combined elements of sound, performance, color, and costume create a layered complexity – visceral moments entwined with a performance built on impulse, provoking a bond with the unfamiliar.

Artist Nick Cave soundsuit trio

 

 

Artist Nick Cave in sound suit Artist Nick Cave Artist Nick Cave soundsuits

A few years ago, we were fortunate enough to catch Cave’s performance HEARD. He bought his mesmerizing soundsuits to Grand Central as part of their 100th year celebration. The performance piece featured thirty of his colorful horse suit creations wandering and dancing in the train station at set times.

Nick Cave [Website]

The More You Know:

  • Check out Nick Cave’s current exhibition (his largest to-date), expounding beyond the soundsuits, an exploration of thoughts on race and identity.  Until is now running at Mass Moca
  • Teaching with Nick Cave’s Until, Until Conversations Emerge, Art21 | “Nick Cave’s most recent installation, Until, is an immersive and subtle confrontation…asking viewers to pay attention to the point at which they become participants in discussions about violence and race in America—right there in the gallery space itself.”
  • Visit the SoundsuitShop, which was created to share the art of Nick Cave with a wider audience.
  • VIDEO: Art21 exclusive, Thick Skin gives some insight into the impetus behind the Soundsuits.

 

Emmanuelle Moureaux’s Color Wheel Crazy ‘Forest of Numbers’ Install

 

The National Art Center, in Tokyo commemorated its 10th Anniversary in January by commissioning a large installation from architect, Emmanuelle Moureaux, “Forest of Numbers” – a visualized symbolization of their future from 2017 to 2026.  Their 2000 square meter exhibition room was presented with partition walls for the first time, filled with “100 colors – more than 60,000 pieces of suspended numeral figures – ceiling to floor inspirations and emotions, for vistors to wander through.  This installation was created with the help of 300 volunteers, and drew over 20,000 visitors in 10 days.

Emmanuelle Moureaux does layers and color like no other.  She’s not simply playing around with the color wheel, but assigning meaning and hopeful desires to her three-dimensional layered numerology.  This practice she attributes to the first time she visited Tokyo, where she now works and lives.

“I was immediately impressed by the colorful store signs and vending machines…these elements gave depth to the space and appeared beautifully like a painting.  The emotion I felt was the inspiration to my design concept of shikiri, which means dividing space with color.” *

“The numeral figures from 0 to 9 were aligned in three dimensional grids. A section was removed, created a path that cut through the installation, invited visitors to wonder inside the colorful forest filled with numbers. The installation was composed of 10 layers which is the representation of 10 years time. Each layer employed 4 digits to express the relevant year such as 2, 0, 1, and 7 for 2017, which were randomly positioned on the grids. As part of Emmanuelle’s “100 colors” installation series, the layers of time were colored in 100 shades of colors, created a colorful time travel through the forest.”**

The installation is composed of 10 layers, representing the 10 years to come all images © daisuke shima

Forest of Numbers Emmanuelle Moureaux-hahamag

Forest of Numbers Emmanuelle Moureaux

Forest of Numbers Emmanuelle Moureaux

The More You Know:

  • Watch a video of the installation, Forest of Numbers going up here on Emmanuelle’s Vimeo.

via [design boom] [Emmanuelle Moureaux website]

*quote pulled from interview with Moureaux in Attitude Magazine, 2015

**quote pulled from Emmanuelle Moureaux website.

 

SPOTLIGHT: Kehinde Wiley

 

American Artist_Kehinde Wiley

 

American Artist, Kehinde Wiley‘s work is a colorful blend of traditional and contemporary roots seen in his trademark over sized portraits where young men and women of color, posed in their street clothes are fixed into grandiose backgrounds that suit them as if they were royalty. Initially his portraits were based on the photographs of young men in Harlem, now he has firmly situated himself as the painter known to travel to urban places in Israel, Africa, Brazil and India to find his next subject.

These portrayals inspire people to throw out phrases like ‘crossing boundaries’, and ‘breaking down barriers’ when they refer to his art. In the last six years or so, Wiley has become a highly sought after painter – with a style I like to refer to as ‘art house rebel rousing’.  At the forefront of this modern takeover is his artistic desire to make art that continues to carry on a discourse for people of color, “I think it’s important for African-American kids to see pictures of people who look like them on museum walls”, says Kehinde.

 

spotlight-kehinde-wiley

“I think one of the things that must happen in the work is for it to become class-conscious. You’ll never be able to exist within this marketplace without recognizing that paintings are perhaps the most expensive objects in the art world. It’s not going to change anyone’s life. But what it does function as is a catalyst for a different way of thinking. The very act of walking into the Los Angeles County Museum and seeing Kerry James Marshall as a kid gave me a sense of, Damn, maybe I can do this. And, so, symbols matter. One of my interests is in having the work in as many public collections as possible. When I go to the Brooklyn Museum or the Metropolitan Museum and see my stuff, I’m aware that there are other young kids who don’t have access to anything like it.”

—quote pulled from Meghan O’Rourke’s interview with Kehinde Wiley in WSJ

Enjoy these great links to more information on Wiley:

  • Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic at The Toledo Museum of Art (On view Feb. 10-May 14, 2017) offers an overview of the artist’s prolific 14-year career. His signature portraits of everyday men and women riff on paintings by Old Masters, replacing European aristocrats in those paintings with contemporary black subjects and drawing attention to the absence of African-Americans from historical and cultural narratives
  • Not convinced that you need to see the exhibit?  Wow yourself with the necessity to see Kehinde Wiley’s work in person with this intimate portrait of Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace, now on demand at PBS Art.
  • There are several great art books that verse you in all things Wiley, but the book simply titled, Kehinde Wiley is by far my favorite.  The book gets bonus points for having curator, Thelma Golden onboard as one its contributors.
  • For a closer look at Kehinde Wiley works now in circulation and editorial imprints, try Artsy’s resource.

 

kehinde wiley

One-Way Color Tunnel by Olafur Eliasson

One_way_color_tunnel_olaf_eliasson

One-way color tunnel, 2007 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2007 Photo: Ian Reeves / Courtesy of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson has proved over the years that he’s producing some of the most mesmerizing works of art, playing with light and color, challenging his viewers’ perception of space.  In 2007, he created a one-way color tunnel, now in the collection of the SFMoMa (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art), installed on a semi-transparent elevated walkway.

“One-way color tunnel is an arched walkway constructed from triangular panels of color-effect acrylic glass and acrylic mirrors. The panels are assembled into a rugged form, with the longest triangles at the base of the tunnel and the shortest triangles forming pyramidal outcroppings on the ceiling. As visitors move through the passageway, they see a fluctuating display of varied hues caused by the color-effect acrylic glass, which changes tone depending on how light strikes it. When they look back, however, instead of seeing the colorful environment they just passed through, they are met with the dull black backs of the panels, with only hints of color escaping through the interstices.”

As visitors move through the passageway, they see the fluctuating effect of light and reflections created by the color-effect acrylic and acrylic mirrors. On one side, the tunnel’s triangular panels seem completely black; from the other end, a multicolored spectrum shines through, changing as the viewers walks by.

photos courtesy of Olaf Eliasson

[via] The Inspiration Grid