Saratoga Springs, N.Y., April 21, 2015 – The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, known for its innovative interdisciplinary exhibitions and arts programs, is launching a series of initiatives to mark the Museum’s 15th anniversary. The Tang combines visual arts with other fields⎯from economics, to astrophysics, to organic chemistry, and dance⎯to explore new ideas and perspectives. This approach has become a model for college and university art museums across the country. The Tang’s anniversary in 2015 will be a springboard for enhancing the Museum’s programming and its leadership role in the national arts and academic communities.
Upcoming programs include: Affinity Atlas, an exhibition combining an international roster of contemporary works and an immersive “cabinet of curiosities” selected from the Museum’s collection, with rotating displays by Skidmore faculty that forge unexpected connections between the works; a collaboration and residency with Mark Allen and Machine Project to create new installations, performances, and events at the Tang; an exhibition developed with Berlin-based painter Arturo Herrera, featuring 100 new abstract paintings on books; and a reexamination of the influential—but often overlooked—artist Alma Woodsey Thomas.
The Museum is also expanding its community engagement offerings, including artist-led workshops and seminars, programs focused on object-based learning for community groups and public school students, and exhibitions developed and curated by Skidmore students. Detailed information on anniversary initiatives follows below; additional programs will be announced in the coming months.
“A common thread that weaves together everything we do at the Tang is to envision new connections between objects and ideas—seeing and thinking in unexpected, even provocative, ways,” said Ian Berry, Dayton Director of the Tang Teaching Museum. “We bring artists, students, visitors, and experts together for transformative experiences with art and to further our understanding of what it means to be human today. Having been part of the Tang since its launch 15 years ago, it’s inspiring to reflect upon what we’ve accomplished—and even more exciting to look to the future.”
Nicholas Krushenick: Electric Soup
On view through August 16, 2015 Electric Soup features Krushenick’s dynamic paintings that juxtapose bold forms with hard-edged abstraction in a body of work that is both independent of and connected to Op art, Pop, Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, and Color Field painting. The exhibition includes well-known works created in New York in the 1960s and 1970s as Krushenick rose to prominence, as well as works
created in Baltimore during the 1980s and 1990s, when market tastes shifted away from Krushenick’s unclassifiable style. The survey also includes Krushenick’s rarely seen drawings and prints influenced by Abstract Expressionist Hans Hoffman’s theory of “push-pull,” in which bright contrasting colors activate space—a practice Krushenick used throughout his career. Krushenick is called “the father of Pop Abstraction” and has been influential to many contemporary artists including Kathy Butterly, Peter Halley, Mary Heilmann, and Thomas Nozkowski.
Nicholas Krushenick is organized by Dayton Director Ian Berry and supported by Friends of the Tang.
Opener 29: Arturo Herrera
June 6 – August 23, 2015 The 29th project in the Tang’s long-running Opener series will feature 100 new paintings from Arturo Herrera’s recent body of abstract paintings, for which he selected small books from flea markets and then manipulated and altered these found objects. By drawing lines, patterns, or his signature cartoon images across the covers and sealing the book shut, the artist transforms the books into objects infused with new meaning.
Based in Berlin, Herrera has created an impressive body of work that includes cut-paper collages, sculptures, drawings, paintings, and wall installations. Much of Herrera’s work uses bold colors and fantastical, abstracted forms that shift childhood imagery—such as animated Disney characters—to invite reinterpretation of familiar modes of representation and seeing.
Opener 29: Arturo Herrera is organized by Dayton Director Ian Berry in collaboration with the artist. The Opener series is supported by New York State Council on the Arts, Overbrook Foundation, Ann Schapps Schaffer '62 and Mel Schaffer, Beverly Beatson Grossman '58, and Friends of the Tang.
September 5, 2015 – January 3, 2016 Affinity Atlas will feature idiosyncratic treasures and contemporary art culled from the Tang’s and Skidmore’s collections, with images and objects spanning centuries and continents, suggesting new connections between the works.
Featuring a series of montages that underscore the Tang’s laboratory-like mission of experimentation, the exhibition will continue the Tang’s history of interdisciplinary collaboration by inviting faculty to insert rotating combinations of objects into the larger installation. An international roster of artists includes Ilit Azoulay, Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam, Camille Henrot, Vik Muiz, Michael Oatman, Sara VanDerBeek, and Hew Locke.
Affinity Atlas draws inspiration from the last work by pioneering culture theorist and art historian Aby Warburg, who died in 1929. Beginning in 1925, and until the year of his death, Warburg theorized about a collective psychology that connects humans across time and space. Forgoing the customary art historical narrative, Warburg instead chose to illuminate his scholarly research through a constellation of some two thousand images—a visual compendium of his life’s research. Warburg named this “picture atlas” after Mnemosyne, the mother of nine Muses and the Greek goddess of the art of remembrance. At the heart of the Mnemosyne Atlas lay an imaginative view of scholarly research that opened a new era in the study of images and offered an innovative approach to visual knowledge.
Affinity Atlas is organized by Dayton Director Ian Berry and supported by Friends of the Tang. 2
The Tang Museum Field Guide to Machine Project, Volume 1
September 19, 2015 – January 3, 2016 The Tang has invited Los Angeles-based Mark Allen and a group of artist collaborators—including poets, choreographers, musicians, and playwrights—to generate new works responding to the Museum space and its natural surroundings for an interactive, multidisciplinary installation that connects seemingly disparate objects and ideas. Allen will be in residence at the Tang beginning in September, undertaking a variety of activities—including camping in a tent on the roof of the Museum, building a theater in the gallery, and transforming the Museum’s elevator into a listening station, entitled Field Guide to Poets of the Machine Project Region.
Founded in 2003 by Skidmore alumnus and artist Mark Allen, Machine Project collaborates with artists, scientists, specialists, technology experts, and local communities to develop projects that explore new ways of seeing and thinking, and provide the opportunity for artists to perform “experiments” together with the public. Machine Project’s previous initiatives have ranged from vacations for plants, group naps, a farewell to analog TV, operas for dogs, pickle making, and mind reading.
Machine Project has organized projects at the Walker Art Center, the Former Robert Rauschenberg Painting Storage Facility in New York City, the Hammer Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, SPACES Cleveland, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, among others.
The Tang Museum Field Guide to Machine Project, Volume 1 is organized by Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs Rachel Seligman and supported by the Friends of the Tang.
Alma Thomas: A Retrospective
February 6 – June 5, 2016 The paintings of Alma Woodsey Thomas (1891-1978) are characterized by bright primary colors and an independent vision that fuels her joyful and spirited work. Her art is inspired by elements in nature and unabashedly combines bright colors with her signature broken lines to create dense fields that recede and pulse with energy. This exhibition will explore the evolution of her highly personal style from the earth tones of the 1950s, to the abstract geometries of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
A woman who grew up under Jim Crow and racial violence, and who experienced the Civil Rights Movement firsthand, Thomas began her artistic career after her retirement as a school teacher at age 60. In 1972, at the age of 80, Thomas was the first black woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art and her work was recently chosen to be prominently displayed in the White House. This exhibition will be Thomas’s first museum survey since 2001 and include works never before shown.
Alma Thomas: A Retrospective is organized by The Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College and The Studio Museum in Harlem. The exhibition is curated by Ian Berry, Dayton Director of the Tang Museum, and Lauren Haynes, Associate Curator, Permanent Collection at the Studio Museum.
RESEARCH AND TEACHING Faculty Engagement The Tang offers one of the most in-depth faculty engagement programs in the country, the Mellon Seminar, which is designed to foster exchange and to encourage faculty from all disciplines to use the Museum and the visual arts in their teaching. Each year nearly 20 percent of Skidmore College’s faculty—from choreographers and scientists to poets and business experts—collaborate on exhibitions, develop museum-based assignments and projects for their students, and conduct classes at the Tang using objects from the collection. Examples of recent faculty collaborations include:
- Classless Society, co-curated by faculty from the Economics and English Departments, presented a range of contemporary art and material culture to document and explore the nature of class and tease out hidden assumptions and misconceptions. More than 20 faculty members at Skidmore taught classes with the exhibition.
- Hope and Anger – The Civil Rights Movement and Beyond, co-curated by faculty in American Studies, featured work from the Tang collection that allowed students to examine the dominant narratives of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements and the shifting construction and understanding of those narratives over time. Student research on the artwork led to the creation of a booklet of extended labels, which was made available to the viewing public.
- Projects in development include an exhibition engaging with issues of information privacy and surveillance, and an exhibition on patterns and systems. The surveillance show is a curatorial collaboration between Scott Mulligan of the International Affairs Program, Department of Management & Business, and Rachel Seligman, the Tang Museum's Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs. Mulligan’s fall 2015 class No Place to Hide: Privacy, Technology, Surveillance and Liberty in the 21st Century, will study and write about the exhibition, and will produce a digital map of surveillance cameras in Saratoga Springs, which will be included in the exhibition. The exhibition on pattern will be a multi-faculty collaboration and will feature historic and contemporary artworks and material culture from around the world.Student Engagement
The Tang offers a range of ways for students to engage with the Museum, including the Eleanor Linder Winter ’43 Endowed Internship. The current Winter Intern is a business major, Imaan Riaz, who is now researching her final project, which will be a curatorial project with objects from the Tang’s collection. Recent student-curated exhibitions include:
- Masked presented a selection of unusual portraits from the Tang’s collection that challenged the convention of portraiture as intended to render a person’s physical likeness.
- (Un)Known Lives of Objects featured a selection of objects from the Tang’s collection that were originally created in Nigeria. The exhibition explored the objects’ complex journeys from West Africa to Saratoga Springs, and displayed them in four distinct settings: a home, a retail store, an art museum, and an anthropology and ethnography museum.PUBLICATIONS
The Tang has a robust publishing program to disseminate the ideas that underpin its exhibitions. The Museum’s catalogues have received awards from the AIGA (the professional association for design), American Alliance of Museums, and the International Association of Art Critics. The most recent catalogue is Classless Society, based on the interdisciplinary exhibition of the same name. Upcoming catalogues include Nicholas Krushenick: Electric Soup; Terry Adkins: Recital; Opener 26: Jeff Sonhouse: Slow Motion; Opener 27: Beverly Semmes: FRP; and Opener 28: Erika Verzutti: Mineral.
GROWTH OF COLLECTION
The Tang is committed to growing its collection, with a particular focus on strengthening its contemporary holdings. In late 2014, during the lead-up to its 15th anniversary year, the Tang received a gift of 75 works of contemporary art from the collection of computer programmer and philanthropist Peter Norton. The gift was designed to support the integration of the visual arts in higher education, foster creative museum practice, and engage diverse audiences with contemporary art. The gift to the Tang included works by some of today’s leading contemporary artists, including Polly Apfelbaum, Matthew Barney, Willie Cole, Renee Cox, David Hammons, Glenn Ligon, Gabriel Orozco, Lari Pittman, Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems, and Fred Wilson. The gift included significant contemporary photography, and works by a number of artists who had early solo exhibitions at the Tang, among them Dario Robleto, Fred Tomaselli, and Kara Walker.
EXPANSION OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT PROGRAMMING
In February 2015 the Tang received a $1 million challenge grant from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund to help build the institution’s endowment and support expansion of its programming. The grant will help fund such initiatives as artist-led workshops and seminars, object- based learning for community groups and public school students, student-curated exhibitions, and open houses for those in the Skidmore community and visitors to the region. The matching grant will also help the Tang expand programming to reach new audiences, including school-age students and adults in traditionally underserved areas.
ABOUT THE TANG TEACHING MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY
The Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College is a pioneer of interdisciplinary exploration and learning. A cultural anchor of New York's Capital Region, the institution's approach has become a model for university art museums across the country—with exhibition programs and series that bring together the visual and performing arts with fields of study as disparate as history, astronomy, and physics; one of the most rigorous faculty-engagement initiatives in the nation, the Mellon Seminar; and robust publication and touring exhibition initiatives that extend the institution's reach far beyond its walls. The Tang Teaching Museum's building, designed by architect Antoine Predock, serves as a visual metaphor for the convergence of ideas and exchange the institution catalyzes. The Museum celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2015. More information at http://tang.skidmore.edu.
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