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December 10, 2021
This fall, the SCAD Museum of Art (MOA) celebrates its 10th anniversary. Over the past decade, the award-winning museum has shown the work of over 200 established and emerging artists through engaging exhibitions, performances, and conversations.
To mark the milestone, the museum’s current shows present diverse voices from around the world, bringing timely and dynamic discussions to SCAD’s local and international community of students and creators. Spread throughout the museum’s indoor and outdoor space, the fall 2021 programming welcomes nine solo shows and two group presentations that touch upon global topics that impact humanity, the planet, and politics today. Young talents and seasoned artists and designers alike are taking to the museum’s indoor and outdoor spaces to shed light on these topics, showcased through paintings, sculptures, works on canvas, immersive installations, and more.
Featured solo exhibitions currently on view include Mahryl Levisse’s “White Wig,” Arturo Soto’s “Urban Visions,” Robert Wilson’s “A Boy From Texas,” Hein Koh’s “Hope & Sorrow,” Nohemí Pérez’s “The Forest’s Bedding,” Ira Lombardía’s “Void,” Izumi Kato’s “Stand By You,” Christian Siriano’s “People Are People,” and Patrick Dougherty’s “Stickwork.” In addition, the two group exhibitions—Elizbeth Catlett’s “Points of Contact” and “Ring Redux: The Susan Grant Lewin Collection”—remain on view through January 30, 2022.
“The SCAD Museum of Art celebrates a momentous milestone—10 years!—with a fall lineup of luminaries from around the globe,” said Paula Wallace, SCAD President and Founder. “Hein Koh’s anthropomorphic artistry stirs the senses, Izumi Kato’s curious creatures intrigue and enthrall, and Ira Lombardía’s visual ecology explores and elucidates ephemerality. From living legends like Robert Wilson to dauntless documentarians like SCAD alum Arturo Soto, the world’s finest teaching museum’s fall exhibitions enlighten, enliven, and enchant.”
For many of the exhibiting artists, this is the first time they’re presenting a solo show in the U.S., including Lombardía and Soto. While the range of programming is diverse, all explore how our world is operating today amid an ongoing global pandemic—its impact on education, art, and the human experience.
Whitewall spoke with Humberto Moro, Adjunct Curator of SCAD Museum of Art about artists sharing intimate worldviews and bold positions that inspire hope through their work.
WHITEWALL: How did you approach curating this season’s exhibitions? Were there initial themes you wanted to explore?
HUMBERTO MORO: Along with the curatorial team, DJ Hellerman, Ben Tollefson, and Brittany Richmond, we approach each season of exhibitions with an awareness of the different communities the museum serves—from the local to the global. This idea of international exchange is at the center of how we conceive and work on a constellation of artists, which together can offer these communities diverse points of view.
We also take into consideration the many top-ranked degree programs SCAD offers, and how the exhibitions and educational programming of the museum communicate with them. For instance, we collaborated with SCAD students and faculty to create an app, which interacts and activates with Ira Lombardia's exhibition. All those factors as well as our curatorial interests and conversations help in building our program. Of course, we keep doing research in publications, galleries, art fairs, studio visits, etc., although in these past years, things were anomalous, and we had to find ways to interact with artists differently.
WW: Can you tell us about the current solo shows on view?
HM: We have an incredibly diverse program, with artists Meryl Levisse from France who created a site-specific installation that creates a playful dialog with our permanent collection; a presentation of all-new, large-scale paintings by Nohemí Pérez from Colombia whose beautiful canvases study the relation between land and politics; the first U.S. museum exhibition of Ira Lombardía from Spain, who presents a series of works which discuss how images are produced and circulated, as well as it debuts an app designed in collaboration with SCAD to activate the exhibition; and an immersive installation by Robert Wilson, who presents a very intimate project about his first encounters with nature and silence.
We’re also presenting a site-specific installation by Brooklyn-based artist Hein Koh, who takes over the museum Jewel Boxes in the facade, and present a series of surrealist gardens made of soft sculpture; and the first museum show by fashion designer Christian Siriano, whose bold voice and sense of social responsibility has become an electrifying presence in the international scene; a show of paintings, sculptures, and installations by Izumi Kato from Japan, who invites viewers into his uncanny world, populated by spectral figures that inhabit the liminal space between the physical realm and the territory of spirits; a series of large-scale, public works by Patrick Dougherty, who makes otherworldly, whimsical sculptures with sticks; and a show in our Alumni Gallery by Aturo Soto from México, which is his first U.S. museum exhibition and presents three series of photographs taken in Savannah and the UK, which think about urban spaces. Additionally, we have a special online exhibition by SCAD’s long-time collaborator and trustee Virginia Jackson Kiah, PhD.
WW: And the two group shows?
HM: The show “Elizabeth Catlett: Points of Contact” connects to an ongoing series of exhibitions that have originated at the Evans Center which study the relations between contemporary art and Black icons such as Jacob Lawrence, Frederick Douglass, and now Elizabeth Catlett. Homage to Black Women Poets (1984) is a renowned sculpture by Catlett which is part of SCAD MOA’s permanent collection and, in this way, this project further expands the study of our collection. At the same time, this particular exhibition makes an argument about how Catlett’s dual citizenship as a U.S. and Mexico national has been overlooked by exhibition projects, and it includes a contemporary section that unpacks these relations with both Black Americans and Mexican contemporary artists. Her impact as a bridge between two nations grows beyond art, and in life, Catlett wanted the complexity of her identity to be acknowledged. Producing original exhibitions which establish an institutional dialogue in addition to serving our constituents, is at the core of our vision.
Additionally, we have “Ring Redux: The Susan Grant Lewin Collection” a survey that presents more than 100 avant-garde rings by artists who have reinvented the age-old and enduring jewelry form with a distinctively contemporary sensibility. The exhibition highlights exceptional acquisitions made across more than five decades by one of the most influential collectors of 20th- and 21st-century art jewelry. The collection, as well as the display of it, reveals the pluralism of contemporary jewelry, resonating with aesthetic developments in art and design, craft, and technology.
WW: The museum has a total of 82,000 square feet of space spread throughout a gallery, an outdoor space, an academic space, and a theater. How do these shows flow throughout its entirety?
HM: This is such an interesting question because the SCAD Museum of Art is housed in a historical site, an 1853 former railway depot for the Central of Georgia Railway. The curatorial staff, along with museum leadership, think deeply about the experience of our visitors as they navigate such an intimate space, and discover different exhibitions and the works of art in each of them. There is a sense of unity, because even though each space presents a particular project, there are both physical relations between exhibitions, the lines of sight and the proximity between them; as well as conceptual relations which create rich dialogues between artists.
WW: What do you feel these presentations say about the time we're living in now?
HM: I think these past years have been very complex for everyone, and each of these exhibitions are a testament of resilience, passion, and compassion. They present intimate worldviews and bold positions that are inspiring to keep thinking how we can reinvent the logic of our different worlds through creativity and critical thinking. They offer an enormous sense of possibility that we hope to transmit to our visitors.
WW: Up until recently, the current SCAD students experienced the effects of a global pandemic on traditional schooling. How did the past year of virtual learning and online presentations impact your view of what should be presented this fall, and for the anniversary?
HM: The pandemic has confronted us with so many challenging situations and a lot of grief. At the same time, it has heightened the already difficult living conditions of many people. It has also made us value proximity so much. We yearn to be close to each other again. The recent events have led to a major increase in digital contact which has created a space in which we can see objects and spaces again with a different perspective. I think this season presents a wide range of materials and scales that are not only evocative of sensations, but they also speak of different cultural signifiers embedded in them, and related to the different spheres that artists live in. I’m surprised by how much joy I get from seeing people back in the museum. It’s really wonderful to have a safe space to enjoy art.
WW: What do you feel the SCAD Museum of Art represents today to the university, the community, the art landscape?
HM: These are different universes, which are not necessarily apart, but we communicate with each one differently. For example, with the university, we try to think about process—the kind of materials and the engagement that each artist establishes with them and how that process can be a source of inspiration for faculty and students, as well, as we value the interactions between artist and them so much. For the community, we focus on subjects and think with our expanded team about programs and how we can expand and unpack the contents of the exhibitions in ways that are generative and that establish meaningful relations with the exhibitions.
Finally, with the art landscape, we think about representation, gender equality, about art historical narratives, and about the role SCAD MOA plays in a larger environment. For that, we look at bringing the work of accomplished artists to the museum, as well as having first museum shows and opportunities for emerging artists, or substantial surveys of artists who have been overlooked. In these ways, I think we holistically and through a very collaborative dialog, create a program that we’re eager and passionate to work with, and share.