August 31st, 2019 – January 19, 2020
Curated by Julie Lohnes, Director & Curator of Art Collections & Exhibitions
For more than twenty years, Kenyan-born contemporary artist Wangechi Mutu’s figurative mixed media collages have represented the “acculturated body that is inscribed, shaped, distorted and controlled,” metaphorically presenting how malice meted out on a body deemed “other” might be visualized.(1) Using Mutu’s work as an inspiration, this exhibition views the figurative form as a place of rebellion and freedom and looks to further the conversation Mutu initiated.
EMBODY features contemporary diasporic artists, who use collage, both conceptually, and in some cases, literally, as a technique to construct identity and/or selfhood within the mode of portraiture or figuration in the visual arts. Artists in the exhibition include Firelei Báez, Amir H. Fallah, Chitra Ganesh, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Simonette Quamina, Stacey Robinson, David Shrobe, aricoco (Ari Tabei), Didier William, and Saya Woolfalk.
Each artist takes a different approach to realizing identity through representation of the body and the creation of a plurality of existences within the subject. These figures embody resistance, defying and challenging a one-dimensional reading of who the figures might be, or what they represent.
The way these figures are made can be seen as acts of opposition to stereotyping. They resist a narrow interpretation of the figures as constructs. Each image is built to give agency and range to the life of experience the subject has lived.
By blurring the form through manipulation of medium, each artist creates an unfixed figure which cannot be metaphorically captured or stereotyped. This exhibition brings together these ten artists to further the work done by Mutu and the conversation about the multifaceted nature of identity.
– Julie Lohnes, Director & Curator of Art Collections & Exhibitions
Additional funding generously provided by Africana Studies; Asian Studies; Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies; Interdisciplinary Studies; Latin American & Caribbean Studies; the Department of Visual Arts; and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
(1) Cox, Lorraine Morales. “Transformed Bodies, Colonial Wounds & Ethnographic Tropes: Wangechi Mutu,” in n.paradoxa, vol. 21 (2008): 70.