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Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, EXHIBITS
December 1 - December 16
Promise of the Infinite: Joan Jonas and the Mirror Once called the “Mother of all Performance Art,” Joan Jonas ’58 has used mirrors in her groundbreaking multimedia works since the late 1960s. Othello Re-imagined in Sepia ENDS DEC 16TH! African American painter and printmaker Curlee Raven Holton reinvents Shakespeare’s Othello in this series of ten etchings. Celebrating Ten Years of Teaching with Art Labels written from the perspectives of faculty, students, and curators complement the diverse objects on view, more than a dozen of which are drawn from the Joseph Allen Skinner Museum.
PROMISE OF THE INFINITE
JOAN JONAS AND THE MIRROR
Once called the “Mother of all Performance Art,” Joan Jonas ’58 has used mirrors in her groundbreaking multimedia works since the late 1960s. From early performances captured on 16mm film, to recent installation pieces, Jonas uses the concept of the mirror to show us that images are not facts, but reflections of our individual imaginations and assumptions. Mirror-studded costumes, convex and full-length looking glasses, and the metaphorical mirror of the camera distort our notions of space, subject, object, and audience. This focused exhibition—the first of the artist’s at her alma mater—brings together four mirror-themed works that span Jonas’s prolific career.
Born in New York in 1936, Jonas received her B.A. from Mount Holyoke College before attending the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Columbia University, where she earned an M.F.A. in Sculpture in 1965. Incorporating video, sculpture, drawing, and performance, Jonas’s innovative work uses diverse storytelling traditions to explore ways of seeing. She has participated in Germany’s prestigious dOCUMENTA six times since 1972, and in 2015, she represented the United States at the Venice Biennale. Currently, Jonas is the subject of a major touring retrospective, curated by Tate Modern, London. A hero and mentor to a younger generation of artists, she is professor emerita at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Jonas lives and works in New York City and Nova Scotia.
Joan Jonas is Mount Holyoke’s 2018 Leading Woman in the Arts, a short-term residency and lectureship organized by the Weissman Center for Leadership in collaboration with the InterArts Council.
OTHELLO RE-IMAGINED IN SEPIA
African American painter and printmaker Curlee Raven Holton reinvents Shakespeare’s Othello in this series of ten etchings, created during an artist residency at the Venice Printmaking Studio in 2012. At once aesthetically decadent and psychologically raw, Holton’s sepia-toned prints explore the inner life and public persona of the Moor of Venice, bringing to his story contemporary ideas about race, identity, and love.
Curlee Raven Holton is an internationally-recognized artist, scholar, and educator. The subject of a recent retrospective at the Cleveland Institute of Art, his work employs powerful visual narratives to address significant personal, political, and cultural events. From 1991 to 2017, Holton taught printmaking and African American art history at Lafayette College in Easton, PA, where he also founded the acclaimed Experimental Printmaking Institute (EPI). He currently serves as the executive director of the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland. Holton earned his M.F.A. with Honors from Kent State University and his B.F.A. from the Cleveland Institute of Art.
This exhibition is made possible by a grant from the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation and the gifts of individual donors in support of the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum’s Diverse Voices Initiative.
August 11, 2018 – June 21, 2020
Drawn from these wide-ranging course materials and discussions, the exhibition presents five thematic sections. Optics of Art celebrates the fascinating insights gained through a rich array of scientific and mathematical approaches to analyzing artistic creation; The Non-Human illuminates the myriad ways we interpret, represent, and interact with animals, monsters, and machines, and includes works as disparate as a surrealist painting and a parlor dome with taxidermied birds; Afterlives of Objects considers the biographies of objects—where they come from, the journeys they take, and how they end up at museums; The Precarious Body looks at representations of the human body in art, and how they both reveal and conceal who we are; and Conflict & Commemoration brings together objects and works of art that reflect experiences of war.
Labels written from the perspectives of faculty, students, and curators complement the diverse objects on view, more than a dozen of which are drawn from the Joseph Allen Skinner Museum, a 20th-century cabinet of curiosities and a treasure of Mount Holyoke’s campus. Over the course of its two-year run, Major Themeswill evolve through select artwork rotations and the introduction of new student and faculty voices.