Archive for the 'Contemporary Art' Category

A Conversation with Rashid Johnson  

Pictured Left to Right: Artist Rashid Johnson; Dr. Anna Katherine Brodbeck, Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art; Dr. Agustín Arteaga, The Eugene McDermott Director

Rashid Johnson, this year’s TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art 2022 honoree and renowned multidisciplinary artist, gifted the DMA with his multimedia work, The New Black Yoga Installation. Featuring five men performing an enigmatic dance of ballet, yoga, tai chi and martial arts across a sun-soaked beach, the work explores the complexity of personal and cultural identity. Johnson’s ongoing meditations on black masculinity and mysticism are reflected through their choreographed dance movements. Rugs branded with crosshairs, a symbol that is etched into the sand in the video, are situated throughout the gallery, projecting the film’s combined sense of peace and foreboding into physical space.  

Below is an excerpt from a transcript of a conversation between Rashid Johnson and the DMA’s Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, Dr. Anna Katherine Brodbeck, at The Warehouse in Dallas, Texas. This dialogue has been edited for length and clarity. 

Katherine: 

When I saw you yesterday at the Museum, you were saying it’s been probably eight or nine years since you’ve really interacted with the piece and seen it in person. I’m so happy to have this work on view and to discuss it with you for the first time because it’s a very layered and enigmatic work. Perhaps you could speak a little bit on how this work came about in your practice. 

Rashid: 

This film, The New Black Yoga, was born of a time when I was living with my wife, Sheree, in Berlin. And it was the first time I was living internationally. I was working on an exhibition and doing a residency. But, as anyone who’s familiar with my work knows about me, I’m an anxious person. And I was asking myself, how do I start to deal with this anxiety? My doctor said I should go do yoga. Since I was in Germany, all the yoga classes were in German. Apparently, that’s just how it works, right? [Laughs] I thought I would just follow what the other people did. 

And, apparently, that’s just not how a real yoga practice is formed [laughs]. And so, because of that my sense is to do something absurd and continue to follow a path. I found a male performer and made a film, and I called it Black Yoga. Now, this man knew nothing about yoga—I, too, knew nothing about yoga [laughs]—but he was interested in ballet. I had an 8mm camera and I said, “Let’s do it, let’s make up black yoga.” I just started giving him moves to do and we made this film called Black Yoga. And by expanding on that was born this film, which is executed using five characters called The New Black Yoga and shot on 16mm film. 

It’s this fun way to kind of revisit this idea of healing, or the creation of healing, using your own creative sensibility to invent a way to navigate complicated circumstances. And that’s how this film was born. That’s its origin story.  

Katherine: 

Thank you for that. I want to talk a little bit about the healing aspect of the piece. The installation that we have at the DMA has a series of branded rugs on the floor. Then you look at the film—it is a very serene film of beautiful movement on a beautiful beach at dusk—and there also appears to be crosshairs that are written into the sand. Then you notice that there are enigmatic runes that give a sense of mysticism but also of foreboding because it does appear that there are these crosshairs in the rugs. I wondered if you could talk a little bit about the kind of symbolism that you’re dealing with.  

Rashid: 

You know, throughout my practice I’ve built an iconography, or a series of symbols and signs, that reference either personal or collective experience—for example, the rugs through branding, but also on the beach, a kind of simple technique of drawing in the sand. And one that you mentioned, Katherine, is the crosshairs.  

I’m a child of the eighties. The day before yesterday, I went to see a play by an incredible playwright and screenwriter named Susan Laurie Parks—she happened to also write the script for a film that I made. But I was sitting behind Spike Lee. I love Spike Lee. I’m just a huge, huge fan of Spike Lee. 

I have to say that, early on, I was quite obsessed with his films. One of his early films is a film many of you have probably seen called Do the Right Thing. I was quite young when it came out. But, there’s a song in it by a band called Public Enemy, and the song is called Fight the Power. I fell in love with Public Enemy. I thought that they were so brilliant. It was this radical discourse but it was also urban music and it was philosophy. Chuck D, who was the lead singer for the band, was this activist and this really brilliant character. On the cover of their albums, they often had this kind of crosshair—a gun sight. I remember asking myself over the course of looking at that album, listening to the music, and seeing how they employed the symbol—who was that sight for? Was the gun being pointed at them? Were they in the crosshairs or were they projecting the crosshairs onto whoever they were battling against? I’ve borrowed this symbol a lot in my work through branding. 

Of course, Katherine, you mentioned there’s several rugs that lay on the floor. Well, my wife is Iranian and I always joke that my mother-in-law and I don’t have a ton in common. But she likes Persian rugs and I like Persian rugs. So I started using these things in my work—almost as a way of reflecting on this relationship that I was building with her, and these cultural signifiers and the possibility that cultural encampment, instincts, and signifiers can become global and employed in different ways and borrowed, sanctioned, and given agency in different languages. So I coated the floor in these Persian rugs and then I branded them with different symbols. I’m excited about how they become both legible and potentially mysterious, simultaneously.  

Focus On: Rashid Johnson 

The Dallas Museum of Art invites visitors to step into the artwork of renowned multidisciplinary artist Rashid Johnson in Focus On: Rashid Johnson, an installation showcasing Johnson’s multimedia work The New Black Yoga Installation. Gifted to the DMA by the artist in 2022, this installation combines a video projection and branded Persian rugs to create an experience that is, at once, intense and intimate. The film features five men performing an enigmatic dance of ballet, yoga, tai chi, and martial arts across a sun-soaked beach, exploring the complexity of personal and cultural identity. Their choreographed movements reflect Johnson’s ongoing meditations on Black masculinity and mysticism, as well as his investigations of the body in space. Rugs branded with crosshairs, a symbol that is etched into the sand in the video, are situated throughout the gallery, projecting the film’s combined sense of peace and foreboding into physical space. 

About Rashid Johnson 

Rashid Johnson’s practice encompasses a wide range of media, including sculpture, painting, drawing, filmmaking, and installation. Via a rich visual lexicon of coded symbolism and autobiographical materials, Johnson’s artwork conducts searing meditations on race and class, in addition to examining individual and shared cultural identities. The artist, who was born in Chicago in 1977, is perhaps best known for translating cultural experiences, most commonly that of Black Americans, through his unique visual language. Johnson was recognized as the 2022 honoree for his contributions to contemporary art at the 2022 TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Gala and Auction, a charity auction that benefits both the DMA and amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research. 

Edited by Trey Burns, Multimedia Producer, and Ellee McMeans, Communications Manager  

Photos Trey Burns, Multimedia Producer

Behind the Scenes: Installing Senga Nengudi’s “Water Composition I”

Influenced by Black cultural traditions and Japanese Gutai, artist Senga Nengudi’s work synthesizes multiple ideas circulating in the 1960s and 1970s: feminist practice, the role of materiality, and the relationship between activation, viewership, and performance. In her sculpture Water Composition I, currently on view in Slip Zone, Nengudi encloses colored water in plastic, creating a body-like form.

Senga Nengudi, Water Composition I, 1969-1970/2019, heat-sealed vinyl and colored water, TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund

We asked Senior Preparator and IPM Coordinator Mary Nicolett what stood out to her about her experience installing this abstract work. Here’s what she had to say:

First priority upon being approached to work with Fran Baas, Interim Chief Conservator, on the Nengudi was sourcing two 2-gallon jugs for filling the piece. 

Once that had been done, we set about opening the contents of the packing tube. There I found a beautiful rope, tubing and funnels, pre-filled dye containers with pre-measured amounts, and of course the plastic “bags.” Also included, and very important, was the template for placement! We were able to figure out exactly where on the platform the piece would go, and it detailed the exact pinpointed location of each PVC bag including position of the heat-sealed-seam. 

It took a while to truly understand the tubing and funnel system. What I wasn’t prepared for was how exquisitely this PVC bags where packed, in order of installation, one by one. Preparators often wish for things to be packed better, but this was a thing of beauty! 

Fran and I set about the morning hooking the tubes into each bag and filling with the prescribed amount of dye mixed with the prescribed ionized distilled water. It was “slow and steady wins the race” and we did not spill a drop! Each funnel was marked with tape on the wall, as to which bag the tube went to, just to avoid any possible confusion. 

After all the bags were filled, Fran and I began removing bubbles in the bags by gently thumping each bag until the bubbles moved to the top. 

A bit of tape removal, sweeping, touch-up paint, and we were done! And it looks marvelous!

Come see this work for yourself in the free exhibition Slip Zone: A New Look at Postwar Abstraction in the Americas and East Asia, on view now through July 10, 2022.

Mary Nicolett is the Senior Preparator and IPM Coordinator at the DMA.

Stretching Ed Clark’s “Intarsia”

Ed Clark is an American abstract expressionist and pivotal Black artist in the DMA’s collection who experimented with shaped canvases. His large-scale painting Intarsia is on view for free in the exhibition Slip Zone: A New Look at Postwar Abstraction in the Americas and East Asia. To create this work, he laid raw canvas on the floor, poured acrylic paint directly on the surface, and spread it across the canvas with a push broom in a performative process. The title of this painting refers to a knitting and metalworking technique used to create fields of different colors that appear to blend in and out of one another. Combined with the elliptical shape of the canvas, which Clark saw as evocative of the shape of an eye, the radiant colors give the overwhelming sense of an expanding, pulsating image. Find out how our team of art conservators and preparators worked to preserve this work’s thick layers of paint by stretching the canvas before displaying it.

From Laura Hartman, Paintings Conservator at the DMA:

It was a true team effort—the painting measures over 5 meters by 3.5 meters, and weighs over 200 pounds! This painting is unique in that the artist has applied so many layers of paint that the paint is in fact thicker than the canvas, which changes the entire physics of the work. It has also traditionally been shown pinned directly to the wall, which was possible in 1970 when it was painted, but now the work has aged and needs a new approach to ensure longevity.

We worked directly with a stretcher maker in New York to design a stretcher that would hold the weight of the piece while remaining thin, giving the appearance that the work is pinned to the wall.

I worked with our preparators to create edge extensions, or a strip lining, and attach these to the back of the work to be able to stretch it while retaining the illusion of pinning. We first stretched a loose lining, which is a giant piece of canvas that acts as an additional support, and then carefully stretched the work onto the prepared stretcher, slowly increasing tension over several days to allow the paint to relax and release into a comfortable position. The work is now secure for the long haul, while retaining the artist’s original intention.

It took a lot of hands but we got it done! It takes at least 8 people to safely move the work, so all hands were on deck for this one!

A Change of Scenery for Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Sam F”

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sam F, 1985, oil on door, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Samuel N. and Helga A. Feldman, 2019.31, © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

In 2017 we began conversations with Helga Feldman about a landmark gift to the institution of a work by the incomparably important US artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. The portrait, Sam F, painted right here in Dallas, is of Feldman’s late husband, who wanted the work to be given to his city’s museum to be enjoyed by the public. As was the wish of the Feldmans, the work entered the collection at the time of Mrs. Feldman’s death in spring 2021. Basquiat’s significance to the recent history of art is almost unparalleled, and when we received the painting, we got to work making immediate plans to get it on view. With this in mind, we adapted to certain considerations of time and space in order to share the work with our audiences without delay. Therefore, we decided to show it in our Concourse, which is the most public of the Museum spaces, and is traversed by all visitors to the DMA. We have often shown works in that space that we want to honor—the Basquiat hangs where the honored artist of our major annual fundraiser, TWO X TWO for AIDS and Art, is typically found. However, because of the very public nature of this space, our duties to care for the collection mandate that the work must be hung above visitor touch distance—an average viewer’s arm span—to keep the work safe. When Sam F went on view, we received the feedback that seeing the painting from this height was far from ideal. This work clearly struck a chord with viewers—for Basquiat was one of the most innovative figures in 20th-century art history. Moreover, as an artist of Puerto Rican and Haitian descent, his presence in the Museum’s collection signals the crucial contributions of Black and Latinx artists to the art historical canon, and the work contains a wealth of references to Afro-diasporic culture that are illuminated in the accompanying interpretive panel.

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Sam F on view across from Pablo Picasso’s The Guitarist on Level 2

We heard this feedback, and we agree—it’s time to move the Basquiat so that the conditions of display can better facilitate the close looking the work merits. As of today, the work will be on view on Level 2, at the threshold between the European and contemporary galleries. The work’s neighbors include paintings by Pablo Picasso and sculptures by Henry Moore, Jacques Lipchitz, and Aristide Maillol. It also abuts our collection of classical art, providing a compelling survey of how artists have treated the human form over thousands of years. Basquiat’s portrait of Sam, who used a wheelchair, rejects the idealism first introduced in the classical period and depicts subjects that are typically excluded as subjects of the fine arts. His signature formal style combines expressive mark making taken from both his past as a graffiti artist and the Neo-Expressionism movement that dominated art in New York in the 1980s, while also pointing to a groundbreaking synthesis and reconfiguration of the art historical language that now surrounds it. We invite you to come and see the work, and to let us know what you think.

Dr. Anna Katherine Brodbeck is the Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the DMA.

Connections Across Collections: “Slip Zone”

Opening September 14, Slip Zone: A New Look at Postwar Abstraction in the Americas and East Asia highlights the innovations in painting, sculpture, and performance that shaped artistic production in the Americas and East Asia during the mid-20th century. Find out about the transnational connections between pairs of artworks featured in the show from the exhibition’s curators.

Dr. Anna Katherine Brodbeck, Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art

While the narrative of US art history has focused on the singular achievements of Abstract Expressionism, it did not emerge on the world scene ex nihilo. Rather, US artists drew from multiple precedents, including the Mexican mural movement, which has special resonance for us at the DMA given our longstanding strengths in art from the region. In Slip Zone, Jackson Pollock’s Figure Kneeling Before Arch with Skulls is paired with Crepúsculo by David Alfaro Siqueiros. Siqueiros taught Pollock to use industrial paints at the Experimental Workshop in New York in 1936, which would later inform his use of nontraditional art media in his classic era drip paintings. The expressionistic pathos of this earlier Pollock painting also mirrors the influence of José Clemente Orozco, whose murals he had seen at Dartmouth College the same year.

Images: Jackson Pollock, Figure Kneeling Before Arch with Skulls, about 1934–38, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund, 2017.7, © Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; David Alfaro Siqueiros, Crepúsculo, 1965, pyroxylin and acrylic on panel, private collection, © 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico City

Dr. Vivian Li, The Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art

Using a hair dryer and polyvinyl acetate adhesive—commercially available since 1947 as Elmer’s Glue-All—Takesada Matsutani discovered that he could create corporeal, bulbous forms by blowing air into the material from behind until each “bubble” burst. Affixing them to the surface of his paintings, Matsutani constructed uncanny compositions. Similar to Matsutani and other members of the pioneering Gutai collective in Osaka, Robert Rauschenberg sought to blur the distinction between art and life through the use of everyday materials. For his Hoarfrost series, he transferred newspaper images to pieces of diaphanous fabric. After meeting the Gutai collective in 1964, Rauschenberg later collaborated with them, including onstage.

Images: Takesada Matsutani, Work-63-A.L. (The night), 1963, polyvinyl acetate adhesive, oil, and acrylic on canvas, The Rachofsky Collection and the Dallas Museum of Art through the TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund, 2012.1.5. Courtesy the artist. © Takesada Matsutani; Robert Rauschenberg, Night Hutch (Hoarfrost), 1976, ink on unstretched fabric, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the artist, 1977.21, © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

Vivian Crockett, Former Nancy and Tim Hanley Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art

Around 1968 Lynda Benglis began pigmenting large vats of rubber latex with day-glo paint and pouring the dyed materials directly onto the floor. Created after Benglis visited a 1969 Helen Frankenthaler retrospective, this work is a nod to Frankenthaler’s method of pouring paint onto unprimed canvas. A founding member of the Gutai Art Association, Shozo Shimamoto was also deeply invested in experiments with materiality and technique. The artist often incorporated elements of performance in the creation of his paintings, such as throwing glass bottles of paint at the canvas. To produce Untitled – Whirlpool, Shimamoto poured layers of paint onto the canvas, removing the paintbrush as a mediating tool and leaving the final composition to chance and the physical, viscous qualities of the material itself.

Images: Lynda Benglis, Odalisque (Hey, Hey Frankenthaler), 1969, poured pigmented latex, Dallas Museum of Art, TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund, 2003.2, © 2021 Lynda Benglis / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY; Shozo Shimamoto, Untitled – Whirlpool, 1965, oil on canvas, The Rachofsky Collection and the Dallas Museum of Art through the TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund, 2012.1.3, © Shozo Shimamoto Association. Naples

Behind the Scenes: Bosco Sodi

Opening September 14, 2021, Bosco Sodi: La fuerza del destino will feature approximately 30 outdoor sculptures by the artist in the DMA’s Sculpture Garden. Created from clay sourced at Sodi’s studio in Oaxaca, dried in the sun, and fired in a traditional brick kiln, the resulting surfaces bear the beautiful scars of their process. Take a behind-the-scenes look at the artist creating his work.

Preparing the clay to sculpt:

Creating the clay spheres:

Drying the clay spheres:

Courtesy: Studio Bosco Sodi, Photographer Sergio Lopez.

Mirror Mirror

Curbed Vanity: A Contemporary Foil by Chris Schanck has given visitors the opportunity to step between the past and the present and see themselves caught in the middle. The free exhibition features two ornate dressing tables facing each other—one an extravagant example of Gilded Age silversmithing and the other a contemporary interpretation by artist Chris Schanck. The vanities are presented together in a conversation from the 19th century to today about craftsmanship, material, and how humans see and perceive themselves.

The exhibition is the perfect spot to stop, reflect, and snap a selfie—something many of you have done over the past five months that these works have been on view. As the show nears its closing date on August 29, we’re looking back on some highlighted “silver selfies” that have been shared on Instagram:

Hayley Caldwell is the Social Media and Content Manager at the DMA.

Hitting Close to Home

As the closing date for the exhibition For a Dreamer of Houses approaches, I can’t help but reflect on how timely, vibrant, and meaningful the show has been to those who have experienced it. The exhibition was originally set to open in March 2020, an opening that was never realized due to the pandemic. The timing was poignant and somewhat surreal—here we have a show about the significance of one’s home coming to fruition during a time of socially distanced shutdown, when all of us were becoming significantly more familiar with the spaces we inhabit. During that time, we launched a virtual tour of the exhibition, which allowed audiences from near and far to explore the contents of the show and think about how they relate to our present experiences, how our spaces reflect ourselves, and what our spaces and the everyday objects within them mean to us. The themes hit close to home, so to speak.

The exhibition finally opened in person along with the rest of the DMA in August 2020. We welcomed you home to your city’s museum—home to this special exhibition of contemporary art—after all of us spent months in our own homes. With fresh perspectives, you, our visitors, made magic happen as you ventured out and became part of the art. Here’s a look back at what you experienced.

The colorful energy of Alex Da Corte’s unmissable Rubber Pencil Devil:

The whimsy of the Drawers, Chests, and Wardrobes section, featuring works by Olivia Erlanger, Robert Pruitt, and Sarah Lucas:

The awe-inspiring immersion of Francisco Moreno’s Chapel:

The intimate materials of Janine Antoni’s Grope:

The delicate beauty of Do Ho Suh’s Hub, 260-10 Sungbook-dong, Sungbook-ku, Seoul, Korea:

. . . and much more.

There’s still a bit of time left for you to visit For a Dreamer of Houses before the exhibition closes on July 4, 2021. Be sure to book your visit soon and make yourself at home.

Hayley Caldwell is the Social Media and Content Manager at the DMA.

“Concentrations” at Forty

The DMA’s Concentrations exhibition series has been a distinguished project-based platform primarily for emerging artists, exhibiting the artist’s first museum solo show or debut of a recent body of work. Renowned artists such as Kiki Smith (Concentrations 20, 1989), Mariko Mori (Concentrations 30, 1997), Charline von Heyl (Concentrations 48, 2005-2006), and Slavs and Tatars (Concentrations 57, 2014) had their first U.S. museum solo shows through Concentrations. Established in 1981 to replace the Texas Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture annual juried competition, Concentrations was an ambitious new contemporary art program started when the DMA moved from Fair Park to its downtown location. Originally planned to run for five years when it launched in 1981, Concentrations this year celebrates its 40th year anniversary and has presented 63 artists. Over its four decades, the series mirrors the development of the museum’s contemporary art program and its commitment to living artists.

Contemporary art at the DMA began to seriously develop in the 1970s under its first curator Robert Murdoch, and Concentrations functioned as the main exhibition program for it. In the series’ first decade more than twenty Concentrations exhibitions, about one-third of the total series’ history, were organized by then-curator Sue Graze. Texas artists, especially those in DFW, were prominently featured in about half of the first ten years of Concentrations shows, including Nic Nicosia (Concentrations 13, 1986), Bert Long (Concentrations 18, 1988), and Celia Álvarez Muñoz (Concentrations 26, 1991).

Encounters 5: Damien Hirst and Tracy Hicks, 1994

After its first ten years, Concentrations was temporarily replaced from 1992 to 1995 with Encounters. Structured as two one-person shows of a Texas-based artist and a national or international based one, it was designed as its press release read to solve the “closed circuit art world” in Texas. The dialogue between the accumulative practices of Damien Hirst and Tracy Hicks (Encounters 5, 1994) was one memorable juxtaposition. When Concentrations resumed in 1996, it shifted to presenting national and international artists due to the increased decentralization of the art world and a rapid expansion of contemporary art programming at the DMA in the late 1990s and 2000s. Since 2005, Concentrations has introduced international artists such as Scotland-based installation artist Jim Lambie (Concentrations 47, 2005), Puerto Rico-based multimedia artists Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla (Concentrations 50, 2007), and South Korea-based installation artist Chosil Kil (Concentrations 58, 2015).

Concentrations 58: Chosil Kil, 2015

Most importantly, Concentrations afforded artists recognition and visibility at a major museum during a pivotal moment in their practice and career. For half of the artists in Concentrations’ history, their show at the DMA marked their first U.S. museum solo exhibition. An artist’s Concentrations show also often gave them exposure to a wider audience, such as for Maki Tamura (Concentrations 40, 2002). After seeing her show, a board member of the Seattle Art Museum recommended her to their museum’s curator, who then invited Tamura to create an installation in Seattle. Wanda Koop (Concentrations 62, 2019), who has had a well-established 40-year career in Canada, gained international attention after her DMA show and was invited to do shows in Europe as well as the US. Even exhibition elements, such as the brochure publication that accompanied each Concentrations show, was especially valuable to young artists since not much writing may yet exist about their work. Annette Lawrence (Concentrations 36, 2000), appreciated the beautiful essay then-DMA curator Charlie Wylie wrote for her show showcasing her new string installations, and included it for a fellowship application that she eventually won.

Concentrations 36: Annette Lawrence, 2000

With the opening of Concentrations 63: Julian Charrière, Towards No Earthly Pole this month, the series remains a strong cornerstone of the contemporary art program at the DMA. We look forward to continuing to present and support the work of the brightest artists of our times.

Vivian Li is the Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art at the DMA

Reflections with Chris Schanck

Ahead of Chris Schanck’s first major museum presentation, Curbed Vanity: A Contemporary Foil by Chris Schanck, we asked the artist a few questions about his formative years in Dallas, his artistic practice, and what he hopes visitors will reflect on when experiencing the exhibition. Read what he had to say and see Curbed Vanity, on view February 7 through August 29, 2021.

How was your high school experience at Booker T. formative for you as an artist?

“Good morning and welcome to Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, the most unique school in Dallas”—that’s how our principal, Dr. Watkins, addressed the student body over the PA system every morning; I can still hear the optimism in his voice. For a student like me, who often managed to find trouble, I am thankful for the patience and persistence that Dr. Watkins gave me—each day was a new day, a new chance. He gave me enough room to be creative and make mistakes, but he also helped me stay on the path.

Booker T. was the most critical educational experience of my life. My teachers offered me a sanctuary of stability and mentorship. Nancy Miller, Patsy Eldridge, Polly Disky, George Mosely, Charlotte Chambliss, Lolly Thompkins, Josephine Jones, and Sylvia Lincoln together gave me a strong fine arts foundation. 

My painting teacher, George Moseley, changed my life forever. Mr. Moseley is a great artist, an inspiring educator, and a trusted mentor. I, along with many of my peers, idealized him for the leadership he showed us in our youth. I know without a doubt that my life and career are forever indebted to him and those handful of teachers who helped me find the confidence to believe in myself.

What does having this show at the Dallas Museum of Art mean to you?

My high school was just down the street from the DMA and I visited countless times in those impressionable years. The Museum always had the familiar feeling of visiting a friend’s home; I felt welcomed and I knew my way around. At the same time, the DMA was my temple. It didn’t matter who I was in the Museum—everyone is equal before art.

The Museum was my gateway to art history. In one afternoon, I could visit with Aztec gods, Jackson Pollock, and Frida Kahlo—and I could start to see the connections and conversations between them all. I didn’t have a lot growing up, but the Museum and my high school gave me exactly what I needed. They showed me from a young age that art gives everything else meaning.

I’m grateful for the support of the Museum and the friends of the Museum. The DMA’s collection is the closest collection to my heart and to be a part of it is the greatest honor.

How does the transformation process of found objects into furniture inspire your artistic practice?

The found objects I work with have very disparate characteristics and I don’t have one specific method for grouping them. For each piece of work, I first build a simple structure and use that as an armature to explore the relationships between the objects and the material. The process of transforming the objects into form is driven by intuition and practical constraints. Many times, I’m following a hunch that two distinct things belong together, while other times I’m exploring rigid dimensional constraints between manufactured generic objects whose original intent is a mystery.

It feels like a collaborative effort between myself and the material—I have a notion of where to begin but the objects bring the project into focus.

William C. Codman, Martelé dressing table and stool, 1899, silver, glass, fabric, and ivory, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., in honor of Dr. Charles L. Venable, 2000.356.a–b.McD

What was your first encounter with the DMA’s Martelé dressing table like?

Like encountering the sword Excalibur; its presence is magical in form and reflectivity—it’s a formidable piece of work to talk to.

What experience do you want visitors to take away from Curbed Vanity?

I’d like them to know that I find my corner of the world inspiring and beautiful in it’s everyday characteristics. I hope the work inspires viewers to enjoy the subtle and unconventional beauty in their own communities.


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