The milestone anniversary of the SCAD Museum of Art highlights international artists and themes spanning a multitude of geographies, backgrounds and generations.
Immersive installations have dominated the art scene for decades, across a myriad of disciplines. Think: âThe Weather Projectâ by Olafur Eliasson, âThe Rain Roomâ by Hannes Koch and Florian Ortkrass, and âInfinity Mirror Roomsâ by Yayoi Kusama.
Granted, facilities have also been turned into quite mundane mass market attractions, thanks to those experiential ‘themed’ rooms found in big cities, which have turned them into pop culture punchlines.
The SCAD Art Museum, in Savannah, Georgia, which is now celebrating its 10th anniversary, reinterpreted the immersive trend while staying true to its own agenda as a preeminent institution of art, design and fashion. “The word ‘immersive’ elicits an immediate relationship with the body, the way one lives and navigates in a space, and the ability to blur the division between oneself and place,” explains Kari Herrin, Executive Director of SCAD Museums and Exhibitions . âIt resonates with today’s audiences, who seek visceral experiences in the digital age. Many of our exhibitions have a natural immersive quality, due to the emphasis we place on the environments in which the works are displayed and [on] the experiences they facilitate.
Some of the exhibits are weird and surreal, in full resonance with the current zeitgeist. Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist Hein Koh, for example, creates transhumanist works. In her “Hope and Sorrow” she fashioned a surreal garden of weeping flowers in spandex, velvet and satin, resting on Astroturf and illuminated by a cartoonish sun with a fixed eye painted on the backdrop. âHein Koh’s surrealism humanizes the natural elements to communicate complex stories and emotions,â Herrin explains. âA site-specific installation, as well as Hein’s first museum exhibit, the exhibit is installed in the museum’s jewelry boxes, spaces that mediate the interior and exterior of the museum with an explicitly public function.â
Likewise, painter Izumi Kato’s large-scale paintings feature spectral figures with bulbous heads and slender bodies reminiscent of primitive beings, embryos, or aliens. Kato paints directly with his hands and sometimes even frees his creatures from the constraints of rectangular canvas wall hangings, hanging them from the ceiling and attaching canvas cutouts of torsos and elongated limbs to them.
Artists also focus on the natural world and the environment. With “El lecho del Bosque, ” Colombian artist NohemÃ PerÃ©z reflects on the social and political components of environmental issues by painting large-scale, detail-rich charcoal drawings of endangered tree species alongside tiny figures of birds, dogs and humans . Patrick Dougherty also combines fine art and design, weaving saplings and sticks to create towering sculptures that celebrate both the beauty of nature and its transience. His batting work also has an interactive on-site component, as he will collaborate for three weeks with SCAD staff and students to create site-specific works. And in experimental theater director Robert Wilson’s immersive installation “A Boy from Texas,” molded truncated pyramids are interspersed with hand-blown glass deer, evoking the time he spent hunting with his father. . spectral silence.
Of course, the beauty of nature often contrasts with the brick, glass and steel of urban spaces. In “Urban visions,Mexican photographer and SCAD alumnus Arturo Soto explores themes of site, theory and image in photos taken in Savannah and London, as well as Oxford, England, where he delves into how the city is dealing with the aftermath of Brexit.
Because our current environments extend beyond the physical world into the digital realm, SCAD has included a meditation on how the digital component interacts with contemporary visual culture. An experiential sculpture by Spanish visual artist Ira LombardÃa, who defines herself as a “visual ecologist” driven by the desire to understand the theoretical and practical implications of digital visual culture, invites the viewer to reflect on the ephemeral and the dematerialization of the object. . In his show, the spectator can physically recreate the work of Yves Klein Jump into the void literally jumping from a custom structure.
A fashion exhibition adds a purely joyful dimension to this solo show program. Fashion designer Christian Siriano, who rose to fame after winning the fourth season of the contest’s television series Project track and is known for her bold, high-octane evening wear, is at SCAD with her first solo show. Entitled âPeople Are People,â the show showcases some of her most flamboyant designs while celebrating her inclusive approach to tailoring.
Two group projects have a more diachronic orientation. Evans Center for African American Studies of SCAD MOA presents “Elizabeth Catlett: Points of Contact,“ juxtaposing Catlett’s prints and sculptures – which reflected the experience of black Americans by combining abstract and figurative influences, and also drew on African and Mexican traditions – with pieces by contemporary black American and Mexican artists whose creations reveal strong links, and often direct references, to Catlett’s work. âThis exhibit makes a case for examining Catlett’s dual US and Mexican citizenship, which has been overlooked by previous exhibition projects,â Herrin explains. âAnd in its inclusion of contemporary artists from both countries, it reveals the lineages between black Americans and indigenous Mexican peoples. Catlett’s impact as a bridge between two nations extends beyond art, and the exhibition reveals the complexity of her identity, [which] she really wanted to be recognized.
In contrast, the other group show, “Ring Redux: The Susan Grant Lewin Collection,” examines the tradition of ring-making by showcasing 100 avant-garde-style rings, demonstrating how the art of jewelry reflects developments. aesthetics of art, design, technology. , and craftsmanship while conveying the complexity of human relationships, from the very personal to the universal.
At the intersection of these two modes, solo / contemporary and group / historical, is âWhite Wigâ by Mehryl Levisse, an artistic and curatorial project juxtaposing portraits from the Rococo era – installed, like a living room , on a hot pink wall – with brightly colored wigs created by contemporary Parisian drag artists. Levisse examines the use of hairstyle and dress as markers of status and identity that have historically been separated into the strict binary of male and female.
Beyond the art of the project, what emerges from this 10th anniversary celebration is SCAD’s intention to present an international roster of artists whose work will expand the horizons of viewers beyond the States. -United. âFrom the very beginning, the SCAD Art Museum was conceived as an international cultural center with the intention of enriching the lives of SCAD students and engaging with different communities both near and farâ , explains Herrin. âThis is representative not only of our international group of students, who come from all parts of the world, but also of the need in this region for a museum of contemporary art that catalyzes dialogue and the sharing of experiences through art and design. â
The fall 2021 season is now on view at the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia.
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