Last Friday marked the opening of the new spring exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, featuring a wide variety of work examining the body, the sky and a site-specific mural from St. Louis native Katherine Bernhardt.
On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, CAM’s Executive Director Lisa Melandri joined contributor Steve Potter to discuss the exhibitions as well as the organization’s upcoming Dada Ball & Bash, happening on Feb. 11. All spring exhibitions run from Jan. 27 to April 16, 2017.
They also spoke about the controversy surrounding Kelley Walker’s “Direct Drive” exhibit in the fall of 2016.
“Like anything else, moments like that are learning moments,” Melandri said. “It makes you think about the power, the meaning that visual art can hold: how it reads and feels to people. We happen to have an exhibition program that changes so dramatically from season to season. It has been predicated on by having so many different kinds of artistic voices. That artist showed us how powerful artwork can be and that we need as a museum and as an institution to think about the ways in which art can mean, can make you think. That can be inspiring, but also painful.”
Listen to the full conversation here:
Here are four meaningful explanations of the different exhibitions you’ll find at CAM this spring:
New York-based artist Deana Lawson challenges conventional representations of the black body through her photography.
“You get a candid, feeling look but, in fact, they are so meticulously posed,” Melandri said of the artist’s work. “… She believes there is extraordinary beauty in the black body. And she is really through this looking, probing through photographs, trying to show what that beauty is. It isn’t about physical beauty: it is about self-confidence, the way people carry themselves.”
British artist Nicola Tyson’s work also focuses on the human body, but her work is painted on a canvas. This her first major museum exhibition in the United States.
“She is very interested in something she coined the term: psycho-figuration,” Melandri said. “Rather than painting a picture of what the mostly women subject looks like, it is painting a picture of what that woman subject might feel like. It’s about looking inward to their experience and the way that they have lived and trying to portray that in these drawings and painting and works on paper.”
St. Louis native and internationally renowned painter Katherine Bernhardt has created a new, site-specific mural on the Contemporary Art Museum’s 60 foot-long Project wall called “XXL Superflat Pancake.”
“It looks very much like what you’d think of as wallpaper, or what you’d think of as wallpaper,” Melandri said.
Berlin-based American artist Louis Cameron has long been thinking about surveillance, one’s surroundings and the atmosphere. He’s combined those interests in six photographs, composites made from cell phone photos, for a series called Clouds.
“These photographs that document what we look up in the heavens too but that actually look like extraordinarily lush, abstract paintings,” Melandri said.
What: CAM Spring Exhibitions: Deana Lawson, Nicola Tyson, Katherine Bernhardt and "ArtReach: I Am"
When: Jan. 27 - April 16
Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Thursday and Friday, 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Where: Main Gallery of Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, 3750 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108
What: CAM Dada Ball and Bash
When: Saturday, Feb. 11 at 6:00 p.m.
Where: Palladium and Joule, 1400 Park Place, St. Louis, MO 63104
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