These 2017/18 acquisitions to the Mississippi Museum of Art's permanent collection 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.

 

They support the work of CAPE, supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 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 were made possible with funds from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and from the Collector’s Club Fund, the Franks Fund, the Hederman Fund, and the Gallery Guild.

Find the full announcement here.

Purchased with W.K. Kellogg Foundation funds for the Center for Art & Public Exchange:

Benny Andrews (1930-2006)

Benny Andrews (1930-2006),

Mississippi River Bank (Trail of Tears Series), 2005.

oil on canvas with painted fabric collage. 70 x 50 ½ in. Collection of Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson. Museum purchase with W.K. Kellogg Foundation funds for the Center for Art & Public Exchange. 2018.005. © 2018 Estate of Benny Andrews/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York.

"...you could be telling your own story, and it could be different colors."

Benny Andrews, a self-proclaimed "people's painter," was born and raised in rural Georgia. His father, a self-taught artist, provided Andrews and his nine siblings (including his brother Raymond, a novelist) an example for creative exploration. Though the family worked as sharecroppers, Andrews' mother made sure he attended high school, a resistance to the agricultural system that demanded able-bodied African-American children labor in the fields. Following his service in the Korean War, Andrews attended the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1950s. He left for New York upon graduation to pursue a full-time art career. His style combines his honed technical skills with inventive visual storytelling and a wide array of cultural and media influences, including those he found in comic books, film, and in the work of other artists. Andrews taught for nearly three decades at Queens College of the City University of New York and co-founded the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition in 1969 to fight for inclusion of artists of color and women artists in establishment galleries and museum collections. 

This work, Mississippi River Bank, depicts the forced removal of Native Americans during the 1830s, capturing the figures - led by a lone horseman - on the precipice of an uncertain future. In works such as this, Andrews draws upon his Southern roots and African, Scotch, Irish, and Cherokee ancestry to recast American narratives from a contemporary vantage point. 

The artist, in his own words:

"What most of saw were illustrators in the magazines like Saturday Evening Post ... and that meant Norman Rockwell. But Norman Rockwell … did strike a chord with us because it was telling a story about a people – it was just that they were white people. But it was easy to superimpose that you could be telling your own story, and it could be different colors. And all of us had stories. We all went fishing. We all had girlfriends. We all picked berries. We all read the comics..."

-Benny Andrews, 

on his path to becoming an artist

Purchased with W.K. Kellogg Foundation funds for the Center for Art & Public Exchange:

Jeffrey Gibson (b. 1972)

Watch a short film about the process of creating Road to Shubuta:

Jeffrey Gibson (b. 1972), Sharecropper, 2015.

repurposed punching bag, glass beads, oxidized copper beads, artificial sinew, steel. 30 x 12 ½ x 12 ½ in. Collection of Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson. Museum purchase with W.K. Kellogg Foundation funds for the Center for Art & Public Exchange. 2017.098. © 2018 Jeffrey Gibson; Courtesy of Marc Straus Gallery, New York.

"Native American art is often times secluded unto itself… For me, it’s had such an impact on my visual aesthetic.

Jeffrey Gibson grew up in major urban centers in the United States, Germany, Korea, England and elsewhere. He is also a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and half Cherokee. This unique combination of global cultural influences converge in his multi-disciplinary practice.

Gibson’s artwork intermingles elements of traditional Native American art with contemporary artistic references. Thus powwow regalia, 19th century parfleche containers, and drums are seamlessly merged with elements of Modernist geometric abstraction, Minimalism, and Pattern and Decoration. Here there is an echo of Frank Stella and Josef Albers – canonized in our current dialogue which has little or no inclusion of Native American art which Gibson provides comparable weight and equivalence.

The artist, in his studio, on his artistic process and influences:

Purchased with W.K. Kellogg Foundation funds for the Center for Art & Public Exchange:

McArthur Binion (b. 1946)

McArthur Binion (b. 1946), DNA: Black Painting: IV, 2015.

oil paint stick, graphite, and paper on board. 84 x 84 in. Collection of Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson. Museum purchase with W.K. Kellogg Foundation funds for the Center for Art & Public Exchange. 2018.004. © 2018 McArthur Binion; Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co.

"Every day I'm working I'm reliving every day of my life."

 A detail of the work reveals copies of Binion's birth certificate, repeated in a grid.

The artist speaks about his process and his DNA series at the 2017 Venice Biennale:

McArthur Binion was born in Macon, Mississippi and lives and works in Chicago. He combines collage, drawing, and painting to create autobiographical abstractions of painted minimalist patterns over a surface of personal documents and photographs. Photocopies of his birth certificate, pages from his address book, his passport photos, newspaper clippings, and photographs of his mother and childhood home constitute the tiled base of his works, over which he layers grids of oil stick. The complexly layered works, from a distance, appear to be monochromatic minimalist abstractions that have led many to compare his work to that of Jasper Johns, Robert Ryman, or Brice Marden. Upon closer inspection, these monochromatic abstractions come into focus: The perfect grid becomes a series of imperfect, laboriously hand-drawn lines, revealing intimate details of Binion’s identity and personal history. 

Purchased with W.K. Kellogg Foundation funds for the Center for Art & Public Exchange:

Hank Willis Thomas (b. 1946)

Hank Willis Thomas (b. 1976), Flying Geese, 2012.

mounted digital c-prints and stained African mahogany. Edition 3 of 3. Collection of Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson. Museum purchase with W.K. Kellogg Foundation funds for the Center for Art & Public Exchange. 2017.096. © 2018 Hank Willis Thomas; Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

 

The artist, in his own words:

"Whoever is holding the frame gets to create the context..."

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist living and working in New York City. His work focuses on themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture. He often incorporates recognizable icons into his work, many from well-known advertising and branding campaigns.

Thomas sees cultural disconnects everywhere in day-to-day living particularly as it relates to race (a figment of our imagination). In a 2013 review of Question Bridge, a collaborative transmedia project, Holland Cotter wrote in the New York Times, “…he has been particularly astute in examining the workings of what W. E. B. Du Bois called double consciousness, the condition in which people see themselves reflected, often negatively, in the view of others and end up molding their lives to confirm that view.” In this way, his work has gone beyond just making art, to examining and exposing deeper divides in our culture.

Purchased with funds from the Hederman Fund:

Noah Saterstrom (b. 1974)

Noah Saterstrom (b. 1974),

Road to Shubuta, 2016.

oil on canvas. 48 x 96 in. Collection of Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson. Museum purchase with funds from the Hederman fund. 2018.006. © 2018 Noah Saterstrom.

"Art can be a species of activism..."

"Art can be a species of activism. I don’t feel like my work necessarily is. But once you start making work about slavery, and about Mississippi, and about your family’s role in this horrible, traumatizing institution, you’re getting into realms of publicly voicing statements about some very tense subjects that need to be talked about."

-Noah Saterstrom

Watch a short film about the process of creating Road to Shubuta:

Noah Saterstrom was raised in Mississippi and educated at Scotland’s Glasgow School of Art. He is a lecturer at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Purchased with funds from the Frank Fund:

Toyin Ojih Odutola (b. 1985)

Toyin Ojih Odutola (b. 1985), The Engagement, 2015.

charcoal on paper, diptych: 22 15/16 x 36 3/16 x 1 1/2 inches (framed). Collection of Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson. Museum purchase with funds from the Franks fund. © Toyin Ojih Odutola. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

"Whenever I’m marking on a surface, I’m thinking through those marks and trying to understand the world a little bit better."

Toyin Ojih Odutola is a contemporary artist who focuses on the sociopolitical construct of skin color through her multimedia drawings. Her work explores her personal journey of having been born in Nigeria then moving and assimilating into American culture in conservative Alabama.

The artist creates intimate drawings that explore the complexity and malleability of identity. Depicted in her distinctive style of intricate mark-making, her sumptuous compositions reimagine the genre and traditions of portraiture. 

Toyin Ojih Odutola, along with Solange, cover the February 2018, Art & Music issue. (Photo: Awol Erizku. © Cultured Magazine)

See how perception of The Engagement changes as the viewer moves.

Gift of the Gallery Guild:

Titus Kaphar (b. 1976)

Titus Kaphar (b. 1976), Darker Than Cotton, 2017.

oil on canvas. 63 x 36 in. Collection of Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson. Gift of the Gallery Guild. 2018.008. © 2018 Titus Kaphar; Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

"I want to make paintings ... that are honest. That wrestle with the struggles of our past, but speak to the diversity and the advances of our present."

Titus Kaphar was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He currently lives and works between New York and Connecticut. His artworks interact with the history of art by appropriating its styles and mediums. 

Through the manipulation of seemingly classical and canonical imagery, Kaphar introduces us to an alternate history that runs concurrent to the dominant narrative. Truths emerge to reveal the fiction and revisionism inherent in history painting and the visual representation of a moment or memory. Kaphar cuts, slashes, erases, layers and peels back the surface of his paintings. Each method is specific to the subject and meant to ignite and recharge the image, often that of the underrepresented body.

The artist's 2017 TED Talk:

Purchased with funds from the Franks Fund:

Deborah Luster (b. 1951)

Deborah Luster (b. 1951), Untitled (Woman in Haunted House Dress), 2000.

gelatin silver print on aluminium. 5 x 4 in. Collection of Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson. Museum purchase with funds from the Franks Fund. 2017.111. © 2018 Deborah Luster.

The artist, on her One Big Self series and the power of the personal photograph:

"You are an invisible population. And this is your opportunity to speak to people on the outside and present yourself the way you would like to be represented."

Since the 1990’s, Deborah Luster has used photography, installation and text to investigate her ongoing relationship with violence and its consequences. 

Luster, who lives in New Orleans, worked for six years in the prisons of Louisiana, including the infamous, maximum-security prison at Angola, to produce an archive of formal portraits of inmates. Exhibited portraits are printed using silver gelatin emulsion on metal plates. 

 

Luster is best known for this series, One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana, which she undertook in 1998 with poet C. D. Wright.

Purchased with funds from the Brown Fund:

Glenn Ligon (b. 1960)

Glenn Ligon (b. 1960), Condition Report, 2000.

Iris print and Iris print with serigraph, 2 parts. Ed. of 20. Each: 31 7/8 x 22 5/8 inches. Museum purchase with funds from the Brown Fund (acquisition in progress from Luhring Augustine, New York). © Glenn Ligon; Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York, Regen Projects, Los Angeles, and Thomas Dane Gallery, London. 2018.010. © 2018 Glenn Ligon; Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York, Regen Projects, Los Angeles, and Thomas Dane Gallery, London.

"History is not static. Painting is not static."

Throughout his career, Glenn Ligon has pursued an incisive exploration of American history, literature, and society across a body of work that builds critically on the legacies of modern painting and more recent conceptual art. He is best known for his landmark series of highly textured text-based paintings, which draw on the writings and speech of diverse figures such as Jean Genet, Zora Neale Hurston, Gertrude Stein, Walt Whitman and Richard Pryor. In addition to paintings, Ligon’s practice also encompasses neon, photography, sculptures, print, installation, and video.  Both politically provocative and formally rigorous, his work explores issues of history, language and identity.

The artist delves into the history of Condition Report and the original I Am A Man painting that preceded it.

"...our ideas about certain moments change over time: our ideas about the Civil Rights Movement, about masculinity, about the role of art."

 

-Glenn Ligon

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