Museum celebrates the past and envisions a bigger future

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It has been a phenomenal decade for the burgeoning museum of American art in central America. And just as we’ve looked back, so has Crystal Bridges. The museum’s latest temporary exhibit, “Crystal Bridges at 10”, opened to the public today, July 11, and celebrates its collection and community.

“As we approach our 10th anniversary, there is no better time to reflect on the decade behind us and dream of what lies ahead,” said Beth Bobbitt, director of public relations, during the announcement. of the exhibition last year.

But, notes the curatorial team, as the exhibit draws inspiration from the anniversary, “Crystal Bridges at 10” is a reflection on the present moment, while setting a direction for the future of the institution.

“We knew it would be important to include works of art that span our collection, and we shed light on over 200 years of art – from 1820 to art that’s literally done today, just for this exhibit, ”curators Mindy Besaw and Lauren Haynes share. “We had fun combining works of art from all times to spark new conversations.”

Mindy Besaw – Curator, American Art and Director of Scholarships and Research – and Lauren Haynes – Director of Art Initiatives and Curator, Contemporary Art, at Crystal Bridges and the Momentary – meet voices within and beyond the museum surprisingly for the captivating exhibition.

“One of our goals at Crystal Bridges is to create programs and exhibits where communities feel connected and see themselves in the museum,” says Haynes.

“We worked with Aron Shelton at Finding Northwest Arkansas to identify community champions to showcase in the galleries. We also invited kids from Kindergarten to Grade 12 to submit self-portraits to show alongside self-portraits in the gallery. collection – and we had over 500 entries! Twenty-four of these remarkable portraits are framed and viewable, while all submissions can be viewed digitally. “

“We also knew it was important to hire artists for this exhibition,” Besaw said of the local community. “Fayetteville artist Ziba Rajabi will be working on his installation and adding artwork during the exhibition. We also engaged artist Dyani White Hawk (Sičáŋgu Lakota) to curate a selection of artwork from the collection to highlight both diversity and shared experiences. Mark Dion has created a one-of-a-kind installation that unexpectedly juxtaposes painting, sculpture, cultural and historical collections, and natural history objects. “

The significance of the anniversary is reflected in the 10 distinct artistic sections and experiences that invite guests to explore the works through a range of creative and engaging approaches.

“Lauren and I worked closely with the larger team, including exhibition designer Jessi Mueller, to imagine immersive exhibition spaces,” Besaw reveals. “It’s hard to explain how some areas really are experiential – and hopefully [they] will surprise our guests. “

For example, she continues, a theatrical production invites spectators to participate in a living tableau of modern day “lantern bearers”. “Watch an artist create a new work of art in the galleries,” details the exhibition’s press release. “Discover nature indoors in an immersive installation fusing art and nature. Revisit artwork from past exhibitions curated by Crystal Bridges, juxtaposed to tell new stories, and much more.”

“Partnerships with many talented and generous people at the University of Arkansas were essential,” Besaw continues, “from the loan of objects to the installation of Mark Dion, to the creation of a theatrical lighting design. that simulates the conditions of nature indoors, passing through 1820s Brooklyn technology. live. “

Over 130 works of art present crowd favorites in new ways, showcase works never before seen in the museum, and raise artists’ voices, inviting new entry points for beloved pieces and providing the opportunity to make new connections.

After the exhibition closes on September 27, the last temporary exhibition of the year opens on November 6 and will carry Crystal Bridges through 2022. “In American Waters” examines how the tradition of marine painting encompasses so much more as portraits of ships. Artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Norman Rockwell, Winslow Homer, Jacob Lawrence and many more are inspired by the beauty, violence, poetry, and transformative power of the sea in American life.

A new Year

As for the future of the curatorial program, Crystal Bridges will continue to “dynamically expand our exploration of American art and architecture” in 2022, notes Chief Curator Austen Barron Bailly.

The lineup includes the museum’s first fashion show, its first architecture show, and an immersive exhibit experience hosted by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

On March 12, “The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse” opens the season with an exploration of the relationship between music and visual art in black Southern expression from 1920-2020, according to a museum press release. The exhibit also examines Black South American influences on American art history through works of sculpture, paintings, works on paper, assemblages, textiles and music, as well as ephemera from musical culture, including instruments, music videos, costumes, lyrics and personal effects.

Opening September 10, 2022, “Fashioning America: Grit to Glamor” is Crystal Bridges’ first fashion exhibition and the first to showcase American fashion as a powerful emblem of global visual culture. Some 90 garments and accessories selected from two centuries of fashion are presented in context with a dynamic interplay between video and imagery to highlight the influence of media.

Guest curator Michelle Tolini Finamore, Ph.D., is a distinguished curator and fashion historian and co-organized the exhibition in collaboration with Crystal Bridges.

“I am thrilled to be working with Crystal Bridges on their very first fashion show,” she says. “Fashion is a powerful form of American artistic expression and Crystal Bridges, with its mission to embrace a broader vision of American art, is the ideal museum for expanding and diversifying the history of American fashion.”

The last temporary exhibition of the Crystal Bridges 2022 program is “Architecture at Home”. Next year, from May 7 to November 7, the museum’s first architectural exhibition will bring together five prototype houses to spark a dialogue on contemporary housing.

“‘Architecture at Home’ is exciting because it is the first time that we are entering the world of contemporary housing,” says Dylan Turk, editor of special projects, architecture and design, who organized the exhibition.

“As a story-driven art museum, this exhibition will build a space for guests to experience the power of architecture, while provoking conversations about how people from all walks of life live,” he continues. . “The exhibit centers humanity with some of the best architects in the Americas, who strive to make homes more accessible to more people.”

Through research, interviews and innovative thinking, five architectural firms based across the Americas each designed and manufactured a 500 square foot prototype for a contemporary home to be displayed in “Architecture at Home”. The exhibit will be located along the Orchard Trail on the museum grounds, and visitors will be able to enter and explore the immersive and domestic prototypes.

Thinking back to Crystal Bridges’ first 10 years and thinking about its present and future, Executive Director and Head of Diversity and Inclusion Rod Bigelow likes to view the museum’s introduction as a ‘moment of’ spark ”for the community.

“The way people engaged both regionally and nationally has inspired people to think about [Northwest Arkansas] differently and think about the possibilities [for the region], and sort of extend those possibilities far, ”says Bigelow.

“One of the things we talk about is ‘Discover, Dream, Do’ as a kind of quick way to think about our mission,” he adds warmly. “Our job is to help people discover things that go beyond what they have thought before, and to dream about them. And I think the dream turns into action at some point when you develop confidence. and inspiration, and there’s this collective energy that I think is happening in Northwest Arkansas that we can’t take all the credit for, but I think it’s definitely been a moment of ‘spark for this community and for this State. ”

Lisa Perry’s Roy Lichtenstein “No Thank You” dress will be part of Crystal Bridges’ first-ever fashion show. “Fashioning America: Grit to Glamor” opens September 10, 2022. (Image credit / Lisa Perry)

A2006-029 Jacob Lawrence Ambulance Call 1948 Tempera on board

A2006-029 Jacob Lawrence Ambulance Call 1948 Tempera on board

Fahamu Pecou’s “Dobale to Spirit” will be part of Crystal Bridges’ first temporary exhibition in 2022. “The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse” highlights the southern landscape through its musical heritage, its spiritual complexity and regional bluster. in an immersive and multisensory exhibition. (Courtesy Image / Fahamu Pecou / © Dr. Fahamu Pecou, ​​courtesy Studio KAWO / Fahamu Pecou Art)


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