Metamorphosis: Reshaping Contemporary Art features artists who are rethinking traditional materials and techniques to create innovative works of art. This exhibition spotlights history, location and interpretation and their impact on the artists’ practices, materials and outcomes. The works in the section titled History focus on how artists use either historical practices or historical knowledge in new ways. Location highlights how places inspire artists or how artists depict various locations. Finally, Interpretation explores the way artists and viewers understand artwork from the past and continue to add dialogue to specific narratives.
Patrick Bongoy (Congolese, born 1980) creates striking three-dimensional reliefs to spotlight the painful history surrounding the production of rubber enforced by Belgium and European governments within the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Using traditional Congolese basket-making techniques, Bongoy discusses environmental pollution and the abuses Congolese people have suffered due to colonization. Priscilla Kennedy (Ghanaian, born 1994) repurposes keffiyehs, or head coverings worn by Arab men, by embroidering female figures and forms to address issues of gender and identity. Together the artists spotlighted in this section look to historical practices and knowledge in innovative ways to add to present-day dialogues.
Exploring political and social borders of cultures and urban spaces, Nevin Aladağ (Turkish, born 1972) fuses together decorative patterns to represent different countries. Through this, Aladağ discusses how space and identities are dictated. Work by Yoan Capote (Cuban, born 1977) covers themes of politics and migration as well as his experience in Cuba. In his Isla series, thousands of hand-wrought fishhooks come together to create, what appears to be, a traditional sea meeting sky painting. Upon further examination, viewers see a more ominous interpretation of the landscape. Each of the artists in Location draws inspiration from the land masses and spaces around them to construct works that creatively engage in important contemporary topics.
Inspired by early Abstract Expressionists and interested in the breaking down of American culture, John Chamberlain (American, 1927–2011) created work made of lacquer and resin-coated aluminum foil. In manipulating this challenging medium, Chamberlain is reinterpreting the material itself and expanding the definition of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Nick Cave (American, born 1959) uses metal tole flowers in the work Arm Peace (2018) to serve as both a memorial for African American men lost to gun violence and a peace offering as a symbol of hope and renewal. Within the works highlighted in the section on interpretation, the artists unpack common understandings to expand on current subjects.
Together, the artists in Metamorphosis: Reshaping Contemporary Art reimagine materials and techniques to tell new stories about history, location, and interpretation.
This exhibition is made possible with support from the Harn Annual Fund and sponsored in part by the State of Florida through the Division of Arts and Culture and the National Endowment for the Arts.