Monday, May 7, 2018
Works by Benny Andrews, McArthur Binion, Jeffrey Gibson, Titus Kaphar, Glenn Ligon, Deborah Luster, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Noah Saterstrom, and Hank Willis Thomas
The Mississippi Museum of Art is excited to announce a slate of important new acquisitions of contemporary art to the collection. These acquisitions reinforce its mission of engaging Mississippians with visual art and further its commitment to empowering arts-based community dialogue that investigates issues of local and national significance. These acquisitions run parallel with a new initiative at the Museum funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Center for Art & Public Exchange (CAPE), the purpose of which is to use original artworks, exhibitions, programs, and engagements with artists to increase understanding and inspire new narratives in contemporary Mississippi.
Acquisitions include: Benny Andrews (1930-2006), Mississippi River Bank (Trail of TearsSeries), 2005; McArthur Binion (b. 1946), DNA: Black Painting: IV, 2015; Jeffrey Gibson (b. 1972), Sharecropper, 2015; Titus Kaphar (b. 1976), Darker Than Cotton, 2018; Glenn Ligon (b. 1960), Condition Report, 2000; Deborah Luster (b. 1951), six gelatin silver prints from the series One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana, 1999-2001; Toyin Ojih Odutola (b. 1985), The Engagement, 2015; Noah Saterstrom (b. 1974), Road to Shubuta, 2016; and Hank Willis Thomas (b. 1976), Flying Geese, 2012.
“Our role as a museum is to collect and display art that creates opportunities for personal discovery and deeper understanding,” said Betsy Bradley, Director of the Mississippi Museum of Art. “Each one of these artworks was selected because of its power to elucidate meaning for our audiences, for its ability to serve as a lasting catalyst for dialogue, and for its responsiveness to experiences that define modern life in Mississippi and the nation.”
These acquisitions were made possible with funds from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation as a component of the work of the Center for Art & Public Exchange, the Collector’s Club Fund, the Franks Fund, the Hederman Fund, and the Gallery Guild.
Four of the acquisitions – Benny Andrews’ Mississippi River Bank, Jeffrey Gibson’s Sharecropper, McArthur Binion’s DNA: Black Painting: IV, and Noah Saterstrom’s Road to Shubuta – are currently on view through July 8, 2018, in Picturing Mississippi, 1817-2017: Land of Plenty, Pain, and Promise, the landmark exhibition interpreting Mississippi identity curated by the Museum on the occasion of the state’s bicentennial. Hank Willis Thomas’ Flying Geese is also on view through July 8, 2018, in The William B. and Isabel R. McCarty Foundation Gallery, accompanied by a visitor engagement space that invites the public to employ techniques used by Thomas to reframe reproductions of photography from the Museum’s collection, creating new narratives with well-known works.
“The common denominator in my work is framing and context,” said artist Hank Willis Thomas in 2016. “Whoever is holding the frame gets to create the context—for history, for the way we see ourselves, for the way we see the world, for the way we see others.”
These acquisitions will be important components of the reinstallation of the Museum’s permanent collection galleries in 2019 as part of an expansive exhibition weaving together a diversity of Mississippi stories, legacies, and narrative threads. This new exhibition of selections from the Museum’s more than 5,000 objects will succeed its predecessor, The Mississippi Story, which was created and installed in 2007 upon the opening of the Museum’s new building. The Mississippi Story was designed to evoke a sense of place, inspired by the observations of those such as Eudora Welty, who wrote that place “never really stops informing us, for it is forever alive, changing, reflecting, like the mind of man itself. One place comprehended can make us understand other places better.” The Mississippi Story was deinstalled in 2017 after a decade on view to pave the way for Picturing Mississippi; this transition serves as a fulcrum propelling the Museum forward into new chapters.
Elizabeth Abston, Curator of the Collection at the Museum, notes that, “Bringing these remarkable acquisitions into the permanent collection allows us to further mine the historical and contemporary issues that affect us as both Mississippians and members of a global society. Museums have become sites of critical and honest discourse surrounding race, history, and socioeconomics, and one way we hope to encourage that openness is by connecting local narratives to these objects, which carry weight in much broader contexts. By encouraging our visitors to become part of the interpretive process and create connections through works of art, our hope is that with the reinstallation of the permanent collection and the addition of these exciting new acquisitions, the visitor experience will become an active, participatory one with shared ownership.”
In addition to expanding the Museum’s collection of contemporary art, these acquisitions will be used by CAPE in programming, exhibitions, and dialogue that further goals of transparency, equity, and truth. The forthcoming CAPE Innovation Lab, a discrete gallery space dedicated to prototyping new models of museum practice and visitor engagement, will also utilize these artworks to create platforms for visitors to participate in the Museum’s ongoing institutional evolution. The CAPE Innovation Lab will come on line in the second half of 2018.
“It is not enough for museums to simply recognize societal inequities and gaps in representation,” said Julian Rankin, Managing Director of CAPE. “Acquiring thought-provoking artworks, employing them in accessible and innovative programming, and involving communities in the thinking and decision-making of the institution are all components of what responsible museum stewardship looks like in contemporary life.
Learn more about the works and the artists at museumcape.org.