Steven and William Ladd, "Welcome to Santo Poco!", 2018, Archival board, fiber, trinkets, pins, shredded paper, wheat starch, glue, and dye, 60 x 162 x 4 in., Courtesy of the artists and Cristina Grajales Gallery
Steven and William Ladd
Welcome to Santo Poco!
Archival board, fiber, trinkets, pins, papier-mâché, and dye
60 x 162 x 4 in.

Courtesy of the artists and Cristina Grajales Gallery

Steven and William Ladd: Lead With a Laugh to Open Sept. 4 at Sarasota Art Museum

Exhibition will feature new works and bring Scrollathon to Sarasota

July 21, 2022

SARASOTA, Fl. (July 21, 2022) – Sarasota Art Museum kicks off its fall exhibitions with Steven and William Ladd: Lead With a Laugh, on view Sept. 4, 2022 – Feb. 5, 2023. The exhibition will feature new, never-before-seen works and a history of Scrollathon, the community engagement program founded by Steven and William that transforms participants’ original works of art into public Collaborative Masterworks. A new masterwork made in collaboration with 20 regional community partners during the Sarasota Scrollathon will open to the public Oct. 16, 2022, kicking off the National Scrollathon.

“We are excited to bring a new body of Steven and William Ladd’s work as well as Scrollathon to Sarasota,” said Virginia Shearer, executive director of Sarasota Art Museum. “This exhibition features a wide range of artworks from Steven and William and tells the story of Scrollathon, a collaborative art making program that has engaged thousands and demonstrates how contemporary art can be a lens for personal storytelling.”

Steven and William Ladd: Lead With a Laugh will be presented in two parts. Opening on Sept. 4, visitors will experience a survey of Steven and William Ladd’s career to date and view new works. A second part of the exhibition will open Oct. 16, detailing the history and evolution of the Scrollathon and unveiling the just-completed Sarasota Scrollathon project made with regional community partners.

Steven and William Ladd are brothers who have been making art together for over two decades. They began their artistic careers as accessory designers. They transform beads, textiles, and trinkets through cutting, weaving, sewing, and scrolling into highly ornamented, detailed sculptures. Steven and William Ladd: Lead With a Laugh narrates various episodes of the Ladds’ collective career – those of past, present, and future – with anecdotes of the memories and recent encounters that characterize their work.

Steven and William Ladd: Lead With a Laugh at Sarasota Art Museum will present nearly 500 artworks, objects, and ephemera, including a range of works from never-before-seen beaded landscapes and drawings, to archival, handbound books, and to sprawling floor pieces that invite visitors to take a closer look. While the artworks vary in scale, color, and subject matter, they are united through the artists’ dedication to collaboration and personal narrative. Whether it is stories from their childhood or more recent adventures, the artworks are created by Steven and William Ladd through conversation and shared memories of these experiences.
Steven and William Ladd, Faith (detail), 2014, Archival board, fiber, glass, beads, and metal, 30 ¾ x 20 ⅝ x 53 ⅞ in., Courtesy of the artists and Cristina Grajales Gallery
Steven and William Ladd
Faith (detail)
Archival board, fiber, glass, beads, and metal
30 ¾ x 20 ⅝ x 53 ⅞ in.

Courtesy of the artists and Cristina Grajales Gallery

A selection of newly made artworks are included in the exhibition to explore their recent evolution in style and focus. Whereas before their artworks were associated with memories of childhood, their work now addresses the present and future. The sprawling artwork Welcome to Santo Poco! celebrates the acquisition of their property in upstate New York which they named Santo Poco (Little Saint). Twelve new beaded landscapes in a spectrum of radiating colors serve as the focal point of the exhibition in the Museum’s Tom & Sherry Koski Gallery, marking this next chapter in the Ladds’ career. These works are accompanied by a landscape that sits on a floor pedestal, allowing visitors to get a closer look at its details. This new work was completed especially for this exhibition and is the perfect union of past, present, and future, as it includes beads the brothers have collected since childhood and first used in a macrame wall hanging in high school. The beads have traveled with them ever since and have been used in a variety of projects to then be recycled with each new project.
Steven and William Ladd, Massa’s, 2012, Wool boxes, Hawaiian shirts, scrolls, ants, pins, 7 ½ x 7 ½ x 5 ¼ in., Courtesy of the artists and Cristina Grajales Gallery
Steven and William Ladd
Wool boxes, Hawaiian shirts, scrolls, ants, pins
7 ½ x 7 ½ x 5 ¼ in.

Courtesy of the artists

While their practice has evolved, Steven and William Ladd remain true to their core values:

  • Spend your life doing what you love.
  • Be focused and disciplined.
  • Collaborate.
  • The brothers explore core values through critical community partnerships. Beginning in 2006, they began to integrate fine and conceptual art, design, and craft with their passion to engage with people through hands-on educational collaboration – a program called Scrollathon. During Scrollathons, participants make artwork inspired by a personal story while sharing that story with the group, demonstrating how contemporary art can become a lens for personal storytelling. Participants then make components for a collaborative artwork and are photographed for a permanent record.

    “In addition to their own collaborative process of creation which evolves through conversation and focused work, the Ladds’ practice invites members of community groups of all needs and abilities to create works with them through Scrollathon,” said Emory Conetta, assistant curator of Sarasota Art Museum. “What visitors will take away from this exhibition is twofold – first, the incredibly dedicated and skilled practice of Steven and William Ladd; and second, the power that is fostered through collaboration and the healing powers of art making.”
    Since its founding in 2006, Scrollathon has served more than 10,000 people from diverse ages, backgrounds, and abilities, inviting participants to think about what they value in life while creating museum-quality art. Scrollathon Collaborative Masterworks are proudly displayed in locations throughout the U.S. including City Point in Brooklyn, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.
    Steven and William Ladd are bringing Scrollathon to Sarasota and will engage with 500 local participants from across the region. Sarasota Art Museum is the official partner for the state of Florida in the National Scrollathon, a nationwide initiative offering meaningful engagement through the creation and presentation of Collaborative Masterworks in all 50 states, five territories, and Washington, D.C., plus 10 Native American Regional Centers in celebration of America’s 250th Birthday in 2026. The new Sarasota Collaborative Masterwork will open to the public Sunday, Oct. 16 at Sarasota Art Museum. The Scrollathon exhibition space further explores the artists’ dedication to collaboration and their devout belief: art is for all, and it has the power to transform lives, as it did for them.
    This exhibition is paid for in part by Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax revenues. As Sarasota’s only museum solely focused on contemporary artists and their work, Sarasota Art Museum showcases art that responds to the present moment.

    About Sarasota Art Museum

    Sarasota Art Museum is a catalyst for appreciation and understanding of the art of our time. As a platform for exposure, education, and experimentation, the Museum inspires new ideas and new ways of being through an endless rotation of transformative, relevant, and pioneering exhibitions and programs designed to elevate and empower all by cultivating discerning visual thinkers and ethical citizens.

    Sarasota Art Museum is Ringling College of Art and Design’s dynamic laboratory for the exploration and advancement of contemporary art. Sarasota Art Museum shares the Ringling College Museum Campus with Ringling College’s Continuing Studies program comprised of the non-credit Studio and Digital Arts program and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Ringling College.
    Located in the historic Sarasota High School, Sarasota Art Museum opened to the public in 2019 in the beautifully reimagined building by K/R Architects. The new Museum is comprised of 15,000 square feet of dedicated exhibition space, a plaza court, the Great Lawn featuring temporary sculpture and site – specific installations, Bistro, and SHOP.
    As Sarasota’s only museum solely focused on contemporary artists and their work, Sarasota Art Museum offers visitors a place to see thought-provoking exhibitions and participate in education programs that start conversations and amplify the city’s creative spirit.
    SHOP, located in the Museum’s lobby, features an eclectic collection of exhibition-related merchandise, art and architecture books, contemporary jewelry, and gifts.

    Bistro at Sarasota Art Museum is located on the Museum’s campus in Paul Rudolph’s Sarasota School of Architecture 1959 Vocational Shops building. The Bistro fare is inspired by Florida’s regional fruit stands and farmer’s markets and emphasizes local produce, healthy proteins, and artisanal specialty items brought to you by Executive Chef and general manager Kaytlin Dangaran.

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