Back to the Future: Dance and Ceremonial Objects of Traditional African Art
June 9 through September 30
Traditional African art was not made for display in galleries and museums but was intended for everyday activities and for use in ceremonies related to the distinct cultures that made them. While art may have been seen as a static display on some occasions, in most instances it would have been part of a larger multi-media event that involved processions, music, and dance. This installation gives insight into a variety of ceremonial objects and how they were used in the context of African life in traditional societies.
Chris Wade: Evolution of a Dream
June 23 through September 9
Madison, Alabama based artist Chris Wade’s mesmerizing drawings are interpretations of his dreams of abandoned space rockets. Letting his childlike imagination run wild, he creates meticulously detailed images of solitary spaceships subsumed by trees alongside pictures of vast treehouse cities made up of the rockets. Involved with NASA’s space camp for kids in Huntsville, Wade’s familiarity with skyrockets brings both precision and authenticity to his imagery.
The drawings narratively follow a progression that parallels his own experiences, tracking the journey of finding healing from his past, as well as a deeper discovery of who he is, while capturing a renewed sense of innocence. Although highly personal, Wade’s drawings deal with universal concerns. Centering around rockets as a symbol of one’s dreams and purpose, Wade’s rockets with branches piercing their skins and growing through them symbolize unresolved issues in one’s life that have the potential to halt progress.
As the series progresses, more hopeful images emerge as he explores the potential that is buried within, left completely intact, waiting to be discovered.
The Undersea Well: Jane Cassidy
June 30 through September 16
Jane Cassidy creates site-specific audio-visual installations. By manipulating various technologies such as speakers and projectors, Cassidy fuses light and sound to form meditative environments filled with visual music. At the MMFA, she will show multiple installations, moving from individual sculptural encounters simulating deep space, to a contemplative installation melding sound and illumination that simultaneously evokes fireflies in nature and a celestial landscape, to a fully immersive environment of projected light and music that resonates in the body and mind of the viewer.
An Irish artist currently living and working in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Cassidy trained in music composition and animation. She earned a Masters in Music and Media Technologies from Trinity College Dublin in 2008 and a Masters of Fine Arts in Digital Art from Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana in 2014. Since that time, national and international film festivals, galleries, and museums have featured her work.
June 30 through September 16
In the 21st century, we are living busy, chaotic lives surrounded by technology and many other things that clamor for our attention. The artists included in Quiet Moments invite us to escape and revel in the soothing moments portrayed in their works of art. Contemplative and meditative, these pieces illustrate the period just before, or after, actions occur. Still scenes such as mist rising over an isle, a winter
74 morning landscape, or an underwater world allow us to reflect, slow down and still our minds in order to be present in the moment.
By portraying calm spaces and scenes that we might otherwise speed on by in person, these artists help us to find beauty in simplicity.
Past Perfected: Childhood in Art
June 30 through October 28
Children and childhood have served as subjects for artists for many centuries. Images of children frequently reflect societal changes in the ways that childhood has been perceived over time. From images that portray children as “small adults” to those that celebrate youth as a time of happiness and exploration, artists have captured likeness as well as the activities of children.
This exhibition of works from the permanent collection of the Museum will include imagery of children and childhood, beginning with European prints of the seventeenth century, and concluding with modern perceptions of youth. Traditional portraits, many of which mimicked those of their adult counterparts, were intended to portray the social and economic status of children and their families. Later paintings often place more emphasis on the roles of children in the family and the home. Finally, the artists of the twentieth century begin to consider the interior life of children and the psychology of young people as they approach maturity.
Student Art Curator’s Choice: Works from the Museum’s Student Art Collection
August 13 through September 16
Works in this exhibition will be chosen by a MMFA Curator of Art from the Museum’s Student Art Collection. The collection, which has over 250 pieces, represents stellar works produced from students from our region. The Curator will hand-select works on paper, painting, sculpture and mixed media to create a vibrant and cohesive exhibition.
For Freedoms: Citizenship and Art
September 15 through November 18
In his State of the Union address on Monday January 6, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt laid out the goals, or “Four Freedoms”, that he believed were the fundamental and essential rights of people not only in in our democracy, but also around the world. These “Four Freedoms” encompassed freedom of speech and freedom of worship—both protected in the First Amendment of our Constitution—along with freedom from want and freedom from fear. More than 75 years later, each of these civil liberties are often still contested.
Many artists in the 20th and 21st centuries tackled these social and civic issues in a variety of ways, perhaps most notably by Norman Rockwell, who illustrated Roosevelt’s aims in 1943. In conjunction with For Freedoms | The 50 State Initiative, the exhibition For Freedoms: Citizenship and Art hopes to generate greater participation in our American democracy by examining the various points of view that different artists bring to each of these “Four Freedoms”, challenging each of us to consider what these rights mean in the 21st century. Works of art drawn from the MMFA permanent collection depicting patriotism and various interpretations of these four inalienable human rights all demonstrate how art wields the power to address cultural issues, to enlighten, and to unite people.
75 Student Art: Do Good, Make Art
September 24 through November 10
In connection with the exhibition Views of the South: Photographs from The Do Good Fund, this student exhibition is inspired by the Empty Bowl international project. In an effort to raise awareness of hunger in our area, students are asked to create their interpretations of food insecurity and the importance of community service.
Views of the South: Photographs from the Do Good Fund
September 29 through January 6
The Do Good Fund was established in Columbus, Georgia, in 2012 to build a museum-quality collection of contemporary southern photographs, to display them in museums, galleries, and nontraditional venues, and to encourage community–based programming with each exhibition. The collection has grown to almost 500 photos created by 83 artists since World War II and more than a dozen exhibitions from The Do Good Fund have been organized across the south.
In Montgomery, 40-50 images of food and shelter will be displayed at the Museum. The themes of food and shelter apply to everyone, and photographs based on these themes help illustrate the wide range of lifestyles in the South. Also, 10-20 will be shown in a couple of local social service organizations whose missions address food insecurity, homelessness, affordable housing, and related concerns. The satellite shows in partner organizations should expose the photos to new audiences as The Do Good Fund desires, and they may encourage those viewers to visit the museum to see the larger exhibition. Museum visitors will learn about the smaller shows and the missions of the social service partners—adding relevant perspectives to their perceptions of the photos.
Photographs have a peculiar ability to capture reality. Moreover, photographers typically have an artistic vision for their work. They frame and focus and crop and alter images to express their vision, although that is sometimes lost on viewers who bring their own ideas when they look at art.
A goal of this collaboration is to look at contemporary southern photographs from the perspective of food and shelter, essential necessities of life that are pictured in diverse ways in The Do Good Fund collection.
Continuum: 1808 to 2017/Goya to Erdreich
September 29 through January 6
Birmingham artist Beverly Erdreich has worked primarily as a painter, mostly in an abstract, lyrical style for most of her career, which began in the mid-20th century. Born in Dothan, she attended Newcomb College in New Orleans, graduating with a degree in art history, before moving to Birmingham in 1961. She pursued her passion for painting abstract canvases up until 2001, when the violence and destruction visited upon the United States and its people had a profound effect on her art. Once the Pandora’s box of man’s inhumanity toward his fellow man opened for Erdreich, she felt compelled to make art that addresses the social malaise characteristic of our world today.
Erdreich’s latest series of work was inspired by her abiding interest in art history, and specifically the relationships between her contemporary concerns and that of artists of the past. In this installation, the Museum will present a group of her drawings that were conceived as variations of compositions by the great Spanish painter/printmaker Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746–1828). Between 1810 and 1820, he created a series of etchings now known as The Disasters of War, inspired by the terrible violence that accompanied the Peninsular War of 1808–1814.
76 Erdreich’s drawings are created atop reproductions of these powerful compositions, bringing the stinging brutality of Goya’s interpretation of nineteenth-century atrocities into a modern context. Works such as the piece above, Enterrar y Caller (Bury them and Keep Quiet) (2017) in Goya’s time referenced political executions, but in Edreich’s piece calls attention to the plight of migrants who drown while crossing the Mediterranean Sea for Europe. Other compositions address the international problems of extrajudicial executions, terrorist actions, and violence against women.
Lino Tagliapietra: Master of Beauty
November 10 through January 20
Lino Tagliapietra said, “I think in glass. I think about the material, the fire, the technique, the movement.” His thoughts become the basis for extraordinary sculptures, a selection of which will be on view in Lino Tagliapietra: Master of Beauty.
Tagliapietra (Italian, born 1934) combines techniques, colors, motifs, and forms he mastered as glassblower in the factories of his native Murano, Italy, with innovative ideas gathered from his travels, teaching, and encounters with American Studio Glass artists. The works he produced since the beginning of his artistic career in 1959 are stunning explorations that transform his concepts into fluid sculptural forms.
His mastery of glass—stretching and bending it into elongated shapes and creating intricate surfaces, both smooth and etched—demonstrates his depth of understanding of the material. These elements, merged with his characteristic inventiveness, established Tagliapietra as an artist who has had a profound impact on glass making over the course of his long and distinguished career.
Lino Tagliapietra: Master of Beauty features more than 25 pieces created since 2000 with examples from several of his most important series, including Batman, Dinosaur, and his wall installations.
Student Art Color and Form: A Student Art Exhibition
November 16 through January 18
Inspired by the work of on view in the Museum’s galleries, students are asked to explore different techniques and materials that highlight color and form in a powerful way. Using two of the basic elements of art to create works that bring color and form to the forefront the student exhibition promises to be a vibrant and powerful display.
The Improvisational Eye: Works on Paper by Self-Taught Artists
November 24 through February 3
Some of the twentieth-century’s most innovative artists, those now typically described as self-taught, reveled in the use of unusual and distinctive materials, many of which were not generally associated with the production of art. This reflects the importance of improvisation that is considered elemental and characteristic of their distinctive practices. This exhibition of works on paper by self-taught artists expands the typical consideration of their art, since paper has one of the longest histories of use in artmaking.
Self-taught artists frequently utilized whatever resources they had at hand, including paper that may have had a previous use such as commercial packaging. The drawings of Bill Traylor (American, 1856–1949) are excellent examples of such “re-use”— in his case cardboard that he scavenged from empty boxes that had held candy or notions. Similarly, the artist Sybil Gibson (American, 1908–1995) used newspaper, brown paper shopping bags, or commercial wrapping papers as supports for her drawings. Others such as
77 Juanita Rodgers (American, 1934–1985) obtained paper typically used for typing or printing. Thornton Dial (American, 1928–2016) worked in many media and made drawings later in his career using artist’s paper intended for the water-based media he favored.
The artists in this exhibition were improvisational both in their choices of material as well as the imagery they transferred to their paper media.
About Face: Contemporary Ceramic Sculpture
February 2 through May 12
About Face: Contemporary Ceramic Sculpture explores the lineage and influence between the revolutionary first generation of artists working in the figural genre and contemporary artists. The exhibition will investigate how history and place inform the work of contemporary ceramists bringing approximately 44 objects by 30 emerging, mid-career, and master artists from around the nation who work within a narrative figurative clay tradition. Creating both sculptural and relief objects, from busts to full figures, the artists all highlight the human form as a way to explore issues relating to the body, to various cultural ties, and to ideas of the female/male gaze.
Bouke de Vries: War and Pieces
February 2 through May 12
In War and Pieces, 2012, Bouke de Vries (Dutch, born 1960) simulates a tablescape like those created for 17th-century banquets. His central theme is the concept of war and conflict as it is familiar to 21stcentury audiences. A former conservator of art objects, de Vries assembles pieces of broken ceramic that would previously have been discarded and gives them new life.
De Vries found his inspiration for War and Pieces in the elaborate tablescape sculpture that was created by master chefs of the 17th-century using sugar, which was a rare and valued commodity at the time. Not meant to be consumed, these assemblages were prestige objects that signaled the wealth of the host. In the eighteenth century, porcelain companies such as Meissen and Sévres began to manufacture replacements for these sugar forms.
This large-scale installation links sugar, which once defined the status of the patron, with the beginnings of European porcelain-making. Presented as a grand war banquet similar to those held on the eve of important battles in the seventeenth century, de Vries combines porcelain shards with modern plastic elements. The past and present clash in a battle of objects, climaxing in a nuclear mushroom cloud.
Josef Albers/Donald Judd Thematic Variations
February 9 through April 28
Working with serial imagery, both Josef Albers (American, born Germany, 1888–1976) and Donald Judd (American, 1928–1994) created works that explore variations on color and form. With a great awareness and respect of each other’s work, they both approached geometric shapes formally in order to explore the inherent aspects of any artwork: form, structure, and color.
In his landmark series, Homage to a Square, 1962, and later in the portfolio Formulation: Articulation, 1972, among other works, artist and mathematician Josef Albers investigated color interactions and how the human eye processes the shifting characteristics of color when placed in various configurations.
Utilizing repetitive shapes combined with bands or blocks of color Albers played with perception in works of art that pulse and shift with movement.
78 Similarly, Judd proposed that art could be logical, direct, and unemotional. He wrote, “A shape, a volume, a color, a surface is something itself. It shouldn’t be concealed as part of a fairly different whole.” His austere and reductive forms are neutral, avoiding any symbolic associations. Instead, he sees his forms as either a part of a mathematical sequence or a meditation on mass and voids, tranquility and motion, and illusion and reality, as seen Untitled Portfolio of 16 Etchings, 1978, a portfolio of prints exploring the parallelogram.
Pairs and Partners: Curatorial Conversations
June 1 through August 4
Pairs and Partners is all about points of view—specifically the points of view of museum curators. In this series of exhibitions drawn from the permanent collection of the MMFA, curators and other “guests” demonstrate the variety of ways in which works of art might be interpreted, based upon an individual’s education, experience, and judgment. In each installation, the curators select two works of art from the museum’s collection that address the show’s specific theme. They will then compare and contrast the works they have chosen, specifically explaining how they feel their chosen works address that theme.
The second exhibition in the Pairs and Partners series is devoted to the concept of portals, that is, something which functions as a passageway from one place (or state of being) to another. Interpreters will be examining the idea of portals (for example, doorways) as the viewer might discern them in the work of art. The idea of the portal is specifically tied to the concepts of position, space, and time; artists may exploit those references to encourage the viewer to assess how concepts or objects can convey a sense of physical or psychological passage.