Final Project: The Old in the New

Exhibitions help shape the way people view and think about art. This exhibition, entitled “The Old in the New” is no different. Through a careful selection of contemporary artists and works, this exhibit is intended to make viewers consider the roots of contemporary art in comparative perspectives, something that is rarely done. In turn, the audience will get a better sense of artistic traditions.

Curation and Theme

“The Old in the New” focuses on the ways older western artistic traditions inform contemporary art. This theme of the persistence and reception of artistic traditions is what characterizes each of the paintings in this collection. Overall, the exhibit is intended to encourage viewers not only to look at western traditions and see how they still inform contemporary art, but also to reconsider how this effects artistic traditions all over the world, as well as how it is adapted for the current era. Each individual artist looks at this persistence of tradition in a different way. Thus, the exhibit covers artistic tradition as the ultimate influencer of art (with Sharon Core’s art), art traditions interpreted to the modern era (with Hendrick Kerstens’ art), and western artistic traditions in a non-western gaze (with Rashid Rana’s art).

Each artist was chosen because of their use of western art as inspiration or their adherence to western artistic tradition. For artists such as Sharon Core and Hendrick Kerstens, western art traditions characterize the formation of their work; however, they use other mediums, often looking at these traditions through the perspective of photography. Core clings the most to older artistic traditions in her various series consisting of reproductions of older still lives. While she bases her paintings on the photographs taken of these still lives in order to create an additional layer of depth to the image (Yancey Richardson Gallery), they very much mirror the artistic traditions of the time the original was painted.

Kerstens evaluates the way that photography can be used in recreating Dutch portraits. His series of his daughter as the subject of photographs based on Dutch portraits often incorporates some modern additions, mostly through the stylized headgear she wears (“Hendrick Kerstens at…”). These portraits reflect the way that artistic traditions have been manipulated to accommodate for current day artistic mediums. Audiences should consider this when looking at contemporary art.

Rashid Rana’s series Scattered in Time uses broken up, pixelated pictures of famous paintings to critique the way that western culture and, by extension, western artistic styles have resulted alterations in Southern Asian identity and culture (“Rashid Rana”). Western art traditions are some of the large influences on artistic tastes, something that has resulted, often, in the degradation of other non-western art and changes in their artistic traditions. It is important for art consumers to be aware of this, especially as they look at contemporary art from non-western countries and compare them to contemporary art from western countries.

Uninformed observers often treat contemporary art as unique and largely uninformed by older artistic traditions. This exhibit aims to challenge that viewpoint, and help the audience see that the development of new art can connect to past art and artistic traditions. In the form of an interesting exhibit, rather than, say, a book, this show will do the important job of allowing visitors to get a sense of the artistic history which can inform contemporary art, and see just how the persistence of traditions shapes what we consider art.

Venue

This show will be shown as a small exhibit in a museum. As it is meant to challenge the viewer’s perspectives on the work of the “old masters” in comparison to contemporary art, this venue will give the exhibit more legitimacy in the eyes of the public, and encourage viewers to think more seriously about this theme.

The Artists

Sharon Core is an American artist, born in 1965 in New Orleans. She was trained at the University of Georgia (for her undergrad) and Yale University School of Art (where she received her MFA). Core focuses on photography and still lives in her professional life, often depicting scenes of nature or other still lives created by past artists. She has shown work all over the world, and has been the recipient of several awards, such as the George Sakier Memorial Prize for Excellence in Photography. Core is most known for challenging the audiences relationship with photography, suggesting alternate meanings of photographs (Yancey Richardson Gallery).

Rashid Rana was born in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1968. He was trained at the National College of the Arts in Lahore, and then at the Massachusetts College of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. While he primarily trained in painting, Rana also commonly uses photography and digital printmaking in his works. His works are often deeply political by nature, critiquing reactions to recent events in Pakistan and the larger world (Lisson Gallery). In his recent series Scattered in Time, Rana critiques colonization and Its impact on Pakistani culture (“Rashid Rana…). Currently based in Lahore, Rana is the head of the Fine Arts department at Beaconhouse National University, and is one of Pakistan’s most famous contemporary artists (Lisson Gallery).

Hendrick Kerstens was born in 1956 in the Hague, the Netherlands. In 1995, with no formal training, he entered the art world by photographing his daughter (artnet). After noticing his daughter’s resemblance to the subjects of portraits by Dutch masters, this self-taught artist eventually began a series of portrait photographs of her, using the same traditions that characterize Dutch and Renaissance painting. This series eventually became renowned worldwide, winning him multiple prizes (“Hendrick Kerstens”). The fashion designer Alexander McQueen even used one of the portraits, Bag, as the inspiration for a line of clothing (“Hendrick Kerstens at…). Kerstens continues to expand the series, and currently works out of Amsterdam, the Netherlands (artnet).

Conclusion

In this way, through the theme of the persistent continuity of artistic traditions, this exhibit will focus on the way older artistic traditions influence contemporary art. The multitude of ways demonstrated by each individual artist will bring into focus the multifaceted way artistic traditions can be interpreted in the modern era. With the exhibit’s placement in a museum, this exhibit will hopefully teach visitors about the way art is interconnected and help develop some interesting conversations about the nature of art itself.

 

Works Cited

artnet. “Hendrik Kerstens.” Artnet, Artnet, www.artnet.com/artists/hendrik-kerstens/.
“Hendrik Kerstens at Danziger Gallery.” Artsy, Artsy, www.artsy.net/artwork/hendrik-kerstens-red-rabbit-ii.
“Hendrick Kerstens.” Danziger Gallery, Danziger Gallery, www.danzigergallery.com/artists/hendrik-kerstens.
Lisson Gallery. “Rashid Rana.” Lisson Gallery, www.lissongallery.com/artists/rashid-rana/.
“Rashid Rana: Scattered in Time at Leila Heller Gallery.” Artsy, Artsy, www.artsy.net/artwork/rashid-rana-re-view.
Yancy Richardson. “Sharon Core.” Yancey Richardson Gallery, www.yanceyrichardson.com/artists/sharon-core.

 

 

 

 

Atlanta Contemporary Art: Sheida Soleimani

Medium of Exchange by Sheida Soleimani is a small exhibit in the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. Soleimani, the daughter of two Iranian political refugees, specializes in creating works of art that are social and political commentaries. In the case of this exhibit, she focuses on the greed of those involved in the petroleum industry (specifically the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). She mentions the disparity in living conditions between rich profiteers and the everyday citizens in the countries that are part of OPEC, saying that revenue from the oil industry is not used to help the citizens of that country. This exhibit is intended to bring to light the “corruption at the center of the petroleum industry” and encourage people to resist said corruption (Wall Text). It consists of a series of collages and one video created from pictures of political and economic leaders, news reports, and archives relating to the petroleum industry. The exhibit is laid out in an almost nonsensical pattern of free-standing and wall-hanging works. The collages are difficult for people to understand who do not know much about this issue. However, the video that accompanies the exhibit clears up much of this confusion. The exhibit would have benefited if the video was the first thing visitors saw when they entered the exhibit. However, the nature of the space meant that the only place the video could be was in the far right corner of the room. In this way, the exhibit needs some work to truly be effective.

Works Cited

Wall text, Medium of Exchange, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta, Ga.

Gallery Visits

Credit: “Whitespace Gallery Shed” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

One thing which intrigued me about the galleries that we visited was the different way that they displayed their works. While in many cases institutional galleries attempted to get as many pieces as they could shown in their space, commercial galleries gave each piece space so that they could individually be enjoyed. There was not as much emphasis placed on a full collection. As these galleries were mostly commercial, I suppose that allowing visitors to focus on one piece at a time helps them to not get overwhelmed and decide that they want to buy a work.

I also felt like galleries are much more flexible with the way they use their space. They focus on what will make the art look good instead of what the art needs to stay pristine, like in museums. One example that I saw of this was the shed at Whitespace Gallery. No museum would dream of putting art in a dirt floor shed, yet Whitespace is able to pull it off. Also, artists have more say in the way that they want their art to be displayed in galleries than they do in museums. This results in some very specific designs, like the sculpture that we saw in Hathaway Gallery. In this way, the different purposes of museums and commercial galleries results in some differences between the way art is displayed.

2018 Agnes Scott Writer’s Festival

Last Thursday I attended Mat Johnson’s book reading of Loving Day. Throughout the reading, I was struck by the evocative nature of Johnson’s imagery-filled book. It was easy to visualize the scene of the dilapidated old house, and feel the frustration of the main character as he struggled with accepting the place as his inheritance. Johnson’s presentation was also very well done. He spoke with a kind of understanding that only the author could know. It was an intriguing experience.

Showing/Thinking Exhibit Final Reflection

Credit: “Showing/Thinking Exhibition Installation (4)” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
Credit: “Showing/Thinking Exhibition Installation (5)” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
Credit: “Showing/Thinking Exhibition Installation (6)” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
Credit: “Showing/Thinking Exhibition Installation (7)” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
Credit: “Showing/Thinking Exhibition Installation (8)” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

The Showing/Thinking Exhibition was one of the most interesting and challenging projects that I have worked on in a long time. I really enjoyed being able to bring my group’s vision of our exhibit to life; while there are some things that I would change (such as add in some more nods to how gender and class played a role in Dr. Newsome’s life and studies), for the most part I am very pleased about how our exhibit turned out. I really love the wardrobe installation and web, as the web unified our space well and the wardrobe installation looked amazing, As exhibition design and curation in museums is what I want to do when I start my career, I value the chance to experience just a taste of what it might be like. Not only that, but I now have a foundation on which to improve the skills necessary for any future explorations.

My group and I worked together pretty well. I felt that I kind of took over the main logistics of the exhibit, something that I am not sure was good for the whole group. Certainly, there were times where we were not necessarily on the same page, but our group was united in its attempt to get the exhibit completed. While the process sometimes felt slow and the creation of everything that went in our exhibit (especially the quilt) took a while, the finished product was worth it.

Showing/Thinking Exhibit Part Six (March 20-26)

Credit: “Showing/Thinking Exhibition Installation (1)” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

This week we installed the Showing/Thinking exhibit. On Tuesday, after completing the quilt, we hung it on the spiral staircase which leads to the second floor. Amandla and Ofelia also finished their portraits of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, both of which turned out great.

 

Maura’s portrait of

Credit: “Showing/Thinking Exhibition Installation (2)” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

the Obamas was completed as well. We hung the portraits of Malcolm X and MLK, but left the portrait of the Obamas to be hung on Thursday. We also were able to receive our projector for Dr. Newsome’s presentation, make sure that it still works, and mount it on a platform. We did have a problem with the wardrobe, though. It had not arrived, so Ashley reached out to make sure that we could get it by Thursday. I was also able to speak with Leah and give her all of the resources which needed to be printed and framed, as well as the relative sizes we need. Luckily, Leah had some frames which we borrowed for the exhibit, so we didn’t have to buy any.

On Thursday, I drove to JoAnne’s to pick up

Credit: “Showing/Thinking Exhibition Installation (3)” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

the gold yarn needed for the web on our ceiling and to see if they had a good fabric which we could draw the Sankofa symbols on. They did not have any fabric, unfortunately, but we found some leftover scraps downstairs to cover a canvas with. Amandla and I were able to cover the canvas on Thursday, and then finish painting the Sankofa symbols on Sunday. We then installed the Obama’s portrait, stitched the Civil Rights Movement quilt blurbs onto the quilt, hung Dr. Newsome’s framed portrait and that of her grandparents, painted the Maya Angelou and Audre Lorde quotes onto the wall, installed the wardrobe and “I AM A MAN” poster, and started hanging the yarn web on the ceiling. We got about four layers in on the web. It was also decided that instead of a projector, we would display Dr. Newsome’s powerpoint on a TV, as this would mean there was no pedestal blocking the middle of the exhibition room. This was installed the same day.

On Friday our group wrote the wall tags for each of our major pieces and shared them with Leah and Professor Korol so that they could be printed. On Monday, I met with Professor Sanders to choose clothes to be hung in the wardrobe, hooked up the TV and DVD player to play Dr. Newsome’s powerpoint, hung the Sankofa symbol paintings (which already had nails where it would be hung on the wall; all that needed to happen was for the canvases to go on them), and finished hanging an extra three layers of yarn on our web so that it would stand out more. We had a minor panic when the TV power cord went missing, but luckily Anastasia and Leah found it.

It seemed that once we had our materials, everything came together fluidly. Then, it was just a race to get everything done on time. The end result, though, looks great. I hope Dr. Newsome likes it!

Showing/Thinking Exhibit Part Five (March 2-March 18)

During our break, I got a few things done. I’ve formatted the quilt blurbs Alex typed up so that they can be printed and attached to our quilt, finished attaching one half of the border of the states to the background of the quilt, cropped and saved the portrait Dr. Newsome sent of her grandparents to forward to Leah, and emailed Professor Dudley Sanders, who is in charge of the theater department’s costume closet, in order to borrow some clothes which can be hung in the wardrobe Ashley got us. I’ve also emailed Leah to ask about printing Dr. Newsome’s portrait and the portrait of Dr. Newsome’s grandparents, as well as to make sure we can get a projector in order to play Dr. Newsome’s slide show on portrayals of black presidents in media. While there is still plenty to do, this show is starting to come together!

Showing/Thinking Exhibit Part Four (February 27 and March 1)

Credit: “Quilt of the South” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

This week in preparing for our Showing/Thinking exhibit, we focused on readying our materials to be installed the week we come back from break. This mostly involved finishing our quilt (see image on the left for completed quilt), which we did; all that needs to be done now is to stitch the shape of the states onto the background. The quilt took a lot longer than expected; however, it looks good, and will be fulfilling to put up. We also helped some other groups install their exhibits, and made a list of all that will need to completed over break, including the Civil Rights Movement blurbs and wall tags. We were able to finish finalizing a few last-minute details, so that everything will be prepared and ready on March 20th. One problem which we did have come up was that the “I AM A MAN” poster that we ordered turned out to be a lot smaller than originally anticipated. I’m worried that it will get lost in the back of the wardrobe, which will be delivered on March 20. I’ve emailed Leah Owenby to see if we can make it larger.

Showing/Thinking Exhibit Part Three (February 20 and 22)

This week, we were able to nearly finish stitching together our state cutouts for our quilt. All that remains is to connect the border of Arkansas and Tennessee. We also chose what quotes we are going to use for the exhibit and where they would go. Perhaps most importantly, Ashley was able to find a wardrobe for our exhibit, which will be delivered on March 19th. Unfortunately, we also came across a problem with our exhibit. Our portrait of Dr. Newsome surrounded by Black Feminists has too small a resolution to be printed, so now our group needs to figure out something new to put on that wall. Some of our initial ideas include a wall of black and white portraits and pictures from a series on black hairstyles by photographer J.D. Okhai Ojeikere. We’ll see what Dr. Newsome would prefer before making our final decision.

Showing/Thinking Exhibit Part Two (February 13 and 15)

This week our group finished the cutouts of each state for our quilt, picked the fabric for our background, and got the materials that we needed to create Mississippi River. I also created a complete list of everything we need to finish before the exhibit is installed. Finally, Alex Dade and I went to Last Chance thrift store to see if we could find a wardrobe for our exhibit, but sadly, found nothing. I have compiled a list of stores where we could find discounted wardrobes (including Mélange Fine Furniture Consignment and Value Village) and also looked on Amazon and the Ikea website to see if I could find a wardrobe for under 100 dollars (I couldn’t). Our group also figured out how to unify our exhibit, with a web on the ceiling of the exhibit which connects each individual part of the exhibit. Though there is still work to do, our exhibit is still coming along.