30 Americans: Wangechi Mutu

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14 Days to 30 Americans

(born 1972)

On CNN’s African Voices, Wangechi Mutu described some of her work as “feminist intervention.” Her riveting, multilayered collages of women sometimes take on fantastical, cyborg characteristics. Mutu admitted to being obsessed with female bodies, particularly with how they can be exploited for hard labor and then deemed worthless—without beauty and undeserving of respect.

To me the female figure is enchanting and power-filled, it astounds me, it baffles me. When I was nineteen I saw middle-aged women in Nairobi protesting their children’s detention at a notorious torture prison. They slowly put a curse out—by disrobing and exposing their bodies—causing the riot police to freak out and flee. I’m interested in how the female body is enhanced and contorted for historical and cultural purposes.
–Wangechi Mutu, interview by Kirsten Fricke, “Sex Sells,” Beautiful Decay, December 2005 issue.

Learn more about the 30 Americans exhibition at http://arkansasartscenter.org/30-Americans.

To view Mutu’s work visit http://wangechimutu.com/.


Wangechi Mutu

photo: http://saintheron.com/

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30 Americans: Kerry James Marshall

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15 Days to 30 Americans

(born 1955)

Kerry James Marshall was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and grew up in South Central Los Angeles. Now living in Chicago, Marshall attributes his style and focus to the years he spent in L.A. during the Black Power and Civil Rights movements. When asked about his time in L.A., Marshall said he felt a sense of responsibility, which directed the nature of his later work.

A 1978 graduate of Otis College of Art and Design in L.A., Marshall started gaining notoriety for his paintings in the 1980s. The artist is best known for addressing themes of civil rights and African American culture through large-scale paintings and sculptures, but Marshall also looks to popular culture and African mythology for his work.

Learn more about the 30 Americans exhibition at http://arkansasartscenter.org/30-Americans.

Learn more about Marshall at http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/kerry-james-marshall.


Video

photo: www.art21.org

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30 Americans: Kalup Linzy

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16 Days to 30 Americans

(born 1977)

Classic daytime TV soap operas such as All My Children and The Days of Our Lives have fueled many of Kalup Linzy’s hilarious video vignettes. He lampoons the stilted acting performances and risible plots while subversively delivering pointed commentaries about race, class, and sexual identity. Perhaps part of the appeal of Linzy’s videos is the way he flips the casting script. Soap operas have long been popular in the African American community, but the actors are mostly white. Oftentimes, Linzy even provides the voiceovers for all of the characters and does the post-production editing, taking the absurdity of TV soap operas to an even more outlandish level. Last year, Linzy made his way as a performer on a bona fide soap opera classic, General Hospital.

Learn more about the 30 Americans exhibition at http://arkansasartscenter.org/30-Americans.

To view Linzy’s work visit http://www.kaluplinzystudio.com/.


Kalup Linzy

photo: Milwaukee Art Museum, http://mam.org/

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30 Americans: Glenn Ligon

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17 Days to 30 Americans

(born 1960)

Glenn Ligon employs the practice of intertextuality in his conceptual work. This term, coined by Bulgarian-French philosopher Julia Kristeva in 1966, describes how the meaning of a text is not inherent, but rather malleable relative to the time, the context it is read, the knowledge of the reader, and other non-static factors. Ligon’s intertextual works invite interpretations around race, language, and sexual identity.

Learn more about the 30 Americans exhibition at http://arkansasartscenter.org/30-Americans.

Learn more about Ligon at http://www.art21.org/artists/glenn-ligon.


Glenn Ligon

photo: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

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30 Americans: Rashid Johnson

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18 Days to 30 Americans 

(born 1977)

“Black science” is an ideal description for Rashid Johnson’s absorbing photography, sculptures, conceptual work, and video works, through which the artist investigates science fiction, divination, black American history, and hip-hop culture, as well as personal memories.

Learn more about the 30 Americans exhibition at http://arkansasartscenter.org/30-Americans.

Learn more about Johnson at http://www.art21.org/artists/rashid-johnson.


Rashid Johnson

photo: www.art21.org

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30 Americans: Barkley L. Hendricks

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19 Days to 30 Americans 

(born 1945)

Barkley L. Hendricks’s large-scale paintings and photographs epitomize black American urban style. His portraiture works infuse realistic depictions of contemporary black people with a certain romanticism. Dignified and fashionable, his subjects are not generic types, but rather recognizable human beings.

Learn more about the 30 Americans exhibition at http://arkansasartscenter.org/30-Americans.

To view Hendricks’s work visit http://www.barkleyhendricks.com/.


Video

photo: Duke Photography/ www.collegeart.org

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30 Americans: David Hammons

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20 Days to 30 Americans

(born 1943)

Bliz-aard Ball Sale is one of David Hammons’s most famous and influential performance art pieces. In 1983 he sold snowballs of varying sizes and prices alongside other street vendors in Manhattan during a winter snowstorm. The satirical performance commented on the U.S. capitalism system, the classist nature of the high-art world, and the superficial value of “whiteness” in U.S. racial politics. Hammons mostly creates art on the street, and for the people who live on those streets, for in his opinion: “The art audience is the worst audience in the world. It’s overly educated, it’s conservative, it’s out to criticize, not to understand, and it never has any fun. Why should I spend my time playing to that audience?”

Learn more about the 30 Americans exhibition at http://arkansasartscenter.org/30-Americans.


David Hammons

photo: Milwaukee Art Museum, http://mam.org/

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30 Americans: Renée Green

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21 Days to 30 Americans

(born 1959)

Renée Green’s transfixing installations epitomize the Information Age because they are often built upon archival material, regardless of her chosen medium—film, text, photography, prints, sculpture, music, textiles, fabrics, and new media. Her prismatic art explores themes surrounding cultural and personal history and memory. In 2009 the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne, Switzerland, exhibited Ongoing Becoming, a retrospective of Green’s works, spanning from 1989 to 2009.

Learn more about the 30 Americans exhibition at http://arkansasartscenter.org/30-Americans.


Renée Green

photo: Milwaukee Art Museum, http://mam.org/

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