STATE OF THE ART 2020: CONSTRUCTS

Su Su, Darwin, 2018, Oil on canvas Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2020.32
Su Su
Darwin
2018
Oil on canvas

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2020.32

State of the Art 2020: Constructs

April 24, 2022 - September 11, 2022

State of the Art 2020: Constructs is an exploration into how contemporary art – produced all across the country including regions outside traditional art centers – reflects the present moment.

A construct is a summation of parts. It’s the relationships between a network of small ideas coming together that
build any single, weighty concept. The artworks in this show tackle extremely complex topics—from those affecting
humanity as a whole to more personal but no less complicated questions of self. The exhibition begins at a macro level: looking at artists concerned with environmental issues on
a global scale. From there, the lens narrows, focusing
on artists investigating specific locations and their
relationships to people. In the final section, all eyes are on the individual, with artworks that explore personal identity.

These 21 artists, a group of the 61 artists from the
original State of the Art 2020 exhibition, represent a taste of American art created in recent years. The approaches, backgrounds, and details of these artists’ practices vary widely, but the echoes across works and sections of the show speak to broader trends in contemporary art in this country. Reorganized around the theme of “constructs,” this focused exhibition invites visitors to consider how these artists put this theme in action.

State of The Art 2020: Constructs is organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas.

The national tour of State of the Art 2020 is sponsored by Bank of America with additional support from Art Bridges.

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Crystal Bridges Museum of America
Art Bridges Logo

This exhibition is made possible, in part, with generous support from:

Silver Sponsor

John and Charlotte Suhler

PLANET

In the current era, humans are responsible for the biggest impacts on the environment. The artists grouped in this section emphasize our outsized impact on the world. While all of the artworks investigate the interwoven relationship between humanity and our planet, the methods and tone vary widely. For some artists, their works function as somber reflections on the current moment. For others, their works speculate on the future, looking back on the mistakes of recent years.
Jena Thomas, In Search of Fun, 2018, Oil on Canvas, 48 x 46 in., Represented by Alvarez Gallery,
Jena Thomas
In Search of Fun
2018
Oil on Canvas
48 x 46 in.

Represented by Alvarez Gallery

Jena Thomas (b. 1987)
In Search of Fun
2018
Oil on canvas

Represented by Alvarez Gallery

Jena Thomas examines how we as a contemporary society view landscape, pointing to an unnatural disconnect between our physical selves and the space in front of us. Using an eerie palette of colors and a collection of odd shapes, Thomas creates an unsettling tension between the figures and the manmade objects surrounding them to prompt a consideration of the implications of land development and our relationship to it.

Lori Kella (b. 1974)
Euclid's Mirror
2019
Archival pigment print

Courtesy of the artist

Lori Kella
Euclid’s Mirror
2019
Archival pigment print

Courtesy of the artist

In an effort to document a fragile and ever-changing ecosystem, Lori Kella builds and photographs small-scale dioramas of artificial landscapes which blend reality and pure fiction. Part of a larger series titled “Vanishing Shoreline,” Euclid’s Mirror and Slip into the Fog and Vanish (Painted Turtle) reimagines the shoreline of nearby Lake Erie where Kella lives and works.

PLACE

Locations often carry threads of memory and tradition. This links people and objects to specific places and frequently aids in the creation of identity. The artists in this section re-contextualize objects, highlight particular details, and explore changing histories, but always with a connection back to a specific place. For these artists, the sites they reference are more than just a spot on a map. Each one is the summation of ideas, sounds, people, and stories—the small parts that collectively reveal the fullness of a place.

Suchitra Mattai
Exodus
2019
Vintage saris from India, Sharjah and artist’s Indo-Guyanese family and rope net

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2020.29

Suchitra Mattai (b. 1973)
Exodus
2019
Vintage saris from India, Sharjah and artist's Indo-Guyanese family and rope net

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2020.29

Suchitra Mattai weaves vintage Indian saris from her own family with saris from the United Arab Emirates and India. A woman’s garment from the Indian subcontinent, a sari is often a long strip of cloth that can be draped around the body in different ways. For Mattai, Exodus “connects diasporic communities of South Asians across the globe, giving voice to generations of women while also probing questions of displacement resulting from European colonization. Focusing on this period is both a means of tracing my family’s history in Guyana and of fostering discussion around contemporary issues surrounding labor and gender.”

SELF

For the most part, we control our identities. While we can’t alter certain aspects of our origins, part of being human means having the agency to build your own sense of self. For the artists in this section, the construction of identity plays an important role in their work. For some, their work reflects their relationship to cultural norms and how they incorporate or deflect those influences. For others, this construction takes the shape of an additional façade or persona—a chance to bring out certain elements through their practice.
Elisa Harkins, Wampum, 2019 Color video and sound 06:23 minutes Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2020.22
Elisa Harkins
Wampum
2019
Color video and sound
06:23 minutes

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2020.22

Elisa Harkins (b. 1978)
Wampum
2019
Color video and sound
06:23 minutes

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2020.22

Elisa Harkins sings in both English and Cherokee. For Wampum, she blends Indigenous music from the 1800s, traditional Indigenous dance, and electronic dance music to create something uniquely her own. Harkins wears a black and gold tear dress, a traditional garment worn by Cherokee women. As the vocals begin, two bolo-wearing dancers join her in a choreographed dance.

Drawing on her Cherokee/Muscogee heritage, Harkins uses her musical compositions and performance practice to explore/investigate the preservation of tradition and the fluidity of translation.

Ronald Jackson (b. 1970)
In a Day, She Became The Master of Her House
2019
Oil on canvas

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2020.85

Ronald Jackson, In a Day, She Became The Master of Her House, 2019, Oil on canvas, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2020.85
Ronald Jackson
In a Day, She Became The Master of Her House
2019
Oil on canvas

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2020.85

According to Jackson, “Painting faces (or people) is a practice that allows me to explore the complexities of humanity. Every person has a story. Every face archives experiences that are psychologically and emotionally embedded… but I am not a portrait painter. I seek to facilitate an engagement between my work and the viewer— with the viewer gazing upon an image… studying the face of another… speculating of their story… and identifying with their humanity.”

HAPPENINGS

Hong Hong Composition for Gravity in the Void and Composition for in the Dark Later, 2015 - presentMulberry bark, pigment, sun, water, dust, repurposed paper, hair Courtesy of the artist
Hong Hong
Composition for Gravity in the Void and Composition for in the Dark Later, 2015 - present
Mulberry bark, pigment, sun, water, dust, repurposed paper, hair

Courtesy of the artist

Hong Hong

ARTIST TALK

Hong Hong

Saturday, April 23

1 PM – 2 PM

Sarasota High School Alumni Auditorium
FREE for ALL

Artist Hong Hong will illuminate her use of Chinese traditions of paper-making and her process, which traverses themes of the body, landscape, and culture.

Interested in exploring the paper-making techniques used by Hong Hong? This program will be followed by a free hands-on paper-making workshop by a local teaching artist in Thomas McGuire Hall at 2 pm.

Visit Hong Hong’s work in the exhibition State of the Art 2020: Constructs in our 2nd Floor Galleries.
This Artist Talk coincides with Member Guest Days. State of the Art 2020: Constructs opens to the public on Sunday, April 24.

Generous suppport for this project provided by Art Bridges.

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ABOUT HONG HONG
Born in 1989 in Hefei, Anhui, China, Hong Hong earned her BFA from State University of New York at Potsdam (2011) and MFA from University of Georgia (2014). Since 2015, she has travelled to faraway and distinct locations to create site-responsive, monumental paperworks. In this nomadic practice, traditional methods of Chinese papermaking coalesces with painting, monastic rituals, and feminist performances. Hong’s research investigates the voyages of bodies, both plant and human, across borders and between continents. Recent projects map interstitial relationships between globalization, climate, exile, time-passing, and the Chinese Diaspora through cartographic, symbolic, and material languages.
Hong’s work has been included in numerous exhibitions, including solo and group shows at Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR; Asia Society Texas Center, Houston, TX; Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA; Penland School of Crafts, Penland, NC; Lawndale Art Center, Houston, TX; and Jewett Art Center, Boston, MA. She has been invited to create public projects by Center for the Arts at Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT), Art League Houston (Houston, TX), and Artspace New Haven (New Haven, CT). Hong has been awarded residencies and fellowships at MacDowell (2020), Yaddo (2019), Vermont Studio Center (2019), I-Park (2019), and Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (2020 – 2021). Hong is the recipient of grants from Foundation for Contemporary Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Houston Arts Alliance, Greater Hartford Arts Council, the Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation, and Connecticut Office of the Arts. Her work has been reviewed by Art21, Art New England, Virtual Asian American Art Museum, Southwest Contemporary, Hand Papermaking, Glasstire, and Two Coats of Paint. She has been invited to lecture and teach at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Women’s Studio Workshop, Wellesley College, Hartford Art School, and University of Oregon. Hong is currently an Assistant Professor of Fine Art at Endicott College. She lives and works in Boston, MA.

ART ACTIVITY

Paper-making Workshop

Saturday, April 23

2pm – 4pm

Marcy & Michael Klein Plaza
FREE for ALL

Interested in exploring the paper-making techniques used by Hong Hong? This program will be followed by a free hands-on paper-making workshop by a local teaching artist in Thomas McGuire Hall at 2 pm.

At 2 p.m., join Ringling College printmaking professor Eszter Sziksz for a workshop making paper out of recycled materials. Eszter has a passion for papermaking and enjoys sharing the delightfully unpredictable art of handmade paper. Her art practice blends papermaking, installation, and video elements. 

Generous suppport for this project provided by Art Bridges.

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Friends and Family Day

FRIENDS AND FAMILY DAY

Celebrate Earth Day

Sunday, April 24

10 am – 5pm

Programs are FREE for ALL

Join us for a full day of activities in celebrating our planet and all it offers us.

  • Engage in an immersive theatrical experience from 10 am – 11 am.
  • Experience live performances in Thomas McGuire Hall from 11:30-12:30 and 1-2 pm.
  • Take part in the Recycled Community Sculpture from 2-4 pm.
  • Enjoy our newest exhibition State of the Art 2020: Constructs, which highlights the theme of Planet and our human impact.
Generous support for this project provided by Art Bridges.
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Resolana 2018 Adobe Brick, mirror, lime wash, and mica 15 x 5 x 8 ft. Public Art + Performance Factory on 5th Art Space, Albuquerque, NM. Photos courtesy of Joanna Keane Lopez
Joanna Keane Lopez, Resolana, 2018
Adobe Brick, mirror, lime wash, and mica, 15 x 5 x 8 ft.
Public Art + Performance Factory on 5th Art Space, Albuquerque, NM.

Photos courtesy of Joanna Keane Lopez

Joanna Keane Lopez

PERFORMANCES

Clay Song

Sunday, April 24

11:30 am – 12:30pm | 1-2 pm

Thomas McGuire Hall
FREE for ALL

Please join us in a series of performances for the activation of Joanna Keane Lopez’s work Clay Song. The performances will feature multidisciplinary artists and performers Nizhonniya Austin, Karima Walker, Kateri López, Gregorio Glassman, and Joanna Keane Lopez.

Generous support for this project provided by Art Bridges.
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ABOUT CLAY SONG
This site-specific installation rethinks the idea of la resolana, a New Mexican architectural term that Lopez interprets as a “south-facing side of a wall where people congregate” in the bright sunshine. The artist designed this adobe brick wall as a threshold that represents unity, duality, and multiplicity. The mud-plastered façade is finished with materials that Lopez locally harvested and mixed with a glittery silicate mineral called mica. Handmade bricks constitute the core of the sculpture. The circular yellow mirror symbolizes the sun while the mirrored surface of the wall offers opportunities for reflection. In keeping with the tradition of la resolana, Lopez invites New Mexican performers to activate the structure when it is on display.

The performances coincide with the public opening of State of the Art 2020: Constructs and Friends and Family Day: Celebrate Earth Day.
ABOUT JOANNA KEANE LOPEZ
Joanna Keane Lopez (b. 1991, New Mexico) is a multidisciplinary artist whose work brings together large-scale installation, adobe, architecture, and sculpture as a reimagining of landscape and place. By working with materials of adobe, alíz, paper, and natural dyes her practice acts to address conceptions of sculpture in engagement with land. Through the passing down of knowledge of vernacular architectural techniques of the greater Southwest, Keane Lopez creates work that seeks healing and reparation of fragmentation towards land, home, family, and community that is connected to her own multi-generational roots in New Mexico.

Keane Lopez has been supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She has exhibited nationally at institutions which include: The Momentary of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, SITE Santa Fe, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Art Museum, and Blue Star Contemporary, and participated as artist in residence at A-Z West and Ucross Foundation.