Meet the Artists | Positive Fragmentation: From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation

Forefronting women artists and especially artists of color, this exhibition explores the creative impulse to take things apart (e.g. to fragment) to create something new, to question the status quo, to question assumptions about gender, race, identity, and to suggest new perspectives. This pathway offers a chance to hear directly from five of the artists speaking about their work. Choose any one or for a longer experience explore all five. Click on More details to find gallery directions as well as artmaking and wellness activities.


Meet Mickalene Thomas

In the mixed media print Sleep: Deux Femmes Noires two black female bodies recline, entwined in an intimate embrace within a colorful collaged landscape. In a nod to the art historical tradition of painting objectified female nudes, Thomas engages with and subverts this history by infusing her work with Black female sexuality and power.

Artist video (3 min.): Thomas discusses her unusual choice of material and how important it is that young Black people are able to see themselves represented in museums. As you listen to the artist, how does this experience with the artist change how you see and experience the artwork on view?

Artist(s):

Mickalene Thomas (American, b. 1971)

Title:

Sleep: Deux Femmes Noires, edition 7/25

Date:

2013

Medium(s):

mixed media collage, wooblock, screenprint and digital print

Dimensions:

38 1/2 x 80 1/2 in.

Credit Line:

Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer

Location:

Featured Exhibition Gallery, Henry Radford Hope Wing, 1st floor

Gallery Directions

After you enter gallery (Featured Exhibition Gallery, first floor), head to the right past the title wall. This artwork is on the wall to your right, midway into the gallery.


Meet Kara Walker

A person fleeing enslavement winces in horror at his severed foot, which has been cut off as punishment. Walker challenges the telling of history. Silhouetted figures add a new understanding of suffering missing from the original edition of Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War, which is enlarged behind them.

Artist video (5 min.): Walker reflects on the realities of being Black in America vs. the quality of just being. She invites us to think about how aspects of culture intertwine with identity. How does listening to Walker speak in her own words deepen your appreciation for this artwork?

Artist(s):

Kara Walker (American, b. 1969)

Title:

Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated): Scene of McPherson's Death, edition 21/35

Date:

2005

Medium(s):

offset lithography and screenprint

Dimensions:

53 x 39 in.

Credit Line:

Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer

Location:

Featured Exhibition Gallery, Henry Radford Hope Wing, 1st floor

Wellness Activity: inspired by Kara Walker

IN GALLERY: Each person is made up of several identities that intersect, fragment, and morph into one another.  Imagine yourself as fragments. Each piece represents a part of who you are. Think about what each piece would represent. Choose one question to ponder or try to answer them all if you’re ready for a deep dive.  

Which pieces are smaller or larger? Why? Which pieces have been shaped by the cultures you identify with? If you had to choose one piece to represent who you are at your core, which piece would you choose?  

AT HOME: Do the activity above, then find some paper of various sizes, shapes, and colors. Tear, cut, or otherwise alter the paper you found to represent the pieces of yourself you identified. Assemble your pieces together to create a self-portrait. You can add other art materials and other drawn elements to complete your portrait, if you choose.    

Gallery Directions

After you enter the gallery (Featured Exhibition Gallery, first floor), go to the left past the title wall. When you’re midway into the gallery, this artwork will be to your right, facing you, in the middle of a freestanding wall with other artwork on either side.


Meet Lorna Simpson

In Details, when you first look at the body fragment, a cropped image of hands, what story starts to form in your mind? Now read the text fragment. What do you wonder?  How does the story change? Simpson questions memory, representation, and assumptions. She interrupts thoughts, intervening with intentional ambiguity and allowing space for possibility.

Artist video (3 1/2 min.): Simpson talks about her influences, finding inspiration, the lifelong thread in her work, and what her choice of materials and process means to her. How does this experience with the artist change how you see and experience the artwork on view? 

Artist(s):

Lorna Simpson (American, b. 1960)

Title:

Details (member), edition 35/40

Date:

1996

Medium(s):

photogravure with screenprinted text

Dimensions:

10 x 8 in.

Credit Line:

Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer

Location:

Featured Exhibition Gallery, Henry Radford Hope Wing, 1st floor

Artmaking Activity: inspired by Lorna Simpson

IN GALLERY: Create a cropped photo of a body part or an image revealing only a fragment from your own lived experience. What word or phrase would you add to the photo to interrupt the stories people might tell in their heads if they saw only the photo?   Taking inspiration from Simpson’s interventions, what phrase might make your cropped photo interesting in a new way?

AT HOME: Do the activity above, then use materials to make your collage. Fragments of images, words and individual letters can be cut from old newspapers or magazine then reassembled to convey something new.

Gallery Directions

After you enter the gallery (Featured Exhibition Gallery, first floor), continue straight ahead to the back of the gallery. This artwork is on left end of the back wall of the gallery.


Meet Wangechi Mutu

Fragmented vintage medical illustrations of uterine tumors are combined with fragments from fashion magazines, back issues of National Geographic, plus glitter, fur, and other elements to create heads or beings. Mutu has given each one a personality and a mouth, so they can speak for themselves.

Pull up a gallery stool and listen to Mutu speak for herself.

Artist video (<15 min): Wangechi Mutu offers a beautiful sense of who she is as a being. From her studio in Nairobi, she shares how her life experiences impact her work -- including her love of nature and her fascination with women. She notes “society worships the image of a woman but denigrates the actual human being of a woman”. How does your understanding of her work expand as you get to know her?

Artist(s):

Wangechi Mutu (Kenyan, b. 1972)

Title:

Histology of the Different Classes of Uterine Tumors: Ectopic Pregnancy, edition 14/25

Date:

2006

Medium(s):

glitter, ink, collage on found medical illustration paper

Dimensions:

23 x 17 in.

Credit Line:

Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer

Location:

Featured Exhibition Gallery, Henry Radford Hope Wing, 1st floor

Activity: inspired by Wangetu Mutu

IN GALLERY: Choose one Uterine Tumor to look more closely at. What might it say?  Choose another one. What conversation might unfold as these two speak for themselves?

AT HOME: Imagine what this artwork might say or sound like if it could speak. Find a piece of paper. Sketch a speech bubble and fill in words this being is saying.

Gallery Directions

After you enter the gallery (Featured Exhibition Gallery, first floor), continue straight ahead to the back of the gallery. Mutu’s *Uterine Tumors* are on the left half of the back wall of the gallery.


Meet Julie Mehretu

In Six Bardos, the abstract gestures appear spontaneous, yet the process is meticulous. Mehretu collaborated with a team of master printers. Instead of separating the colorways in the printing process, different colored inks were applied by hand to a single copper plate with a wad of fabric.

Artist video (8 min.): Pull up a gallery stool. Julie Mehretu talks about the complexity of the process and what it’s like to work in collaboration with professional printmaking studios, like Crown Point Press, where we see her working on a plate and pulling a print. She talks about losing herself in music to fuel creativity, making marks that are percussive and improvisational. When look again at her artwork, what do you notice that you didn’t notice before?

Artist(s):

Julie Mehretu (American, b. Ethiopia, 1970)

Title:

Six Bardos: Transmigration, edition 23/25

Date:

2018

Medium(s):

aquatint

Dimensions:

98 x 74 in.

Credit Line:

Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer

Location:

Featured Exhibition Gallery, Henry Radford Hope Wing, 1st floor

Gallery Directions

After you enter the gallery (Featured Exhibition Gallery, first floor), go to the left past the title wall. This artwork is hanging on a partial wall straight ahead.


Credit

Support for this exhibition and related education and outreach programs has been made possible by a grant from the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation.


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