Images Above (L -R):
1) Nancy Floyd (American, born 1956), Weathering Time, 1982/2012, archival inkjet print, 10 x 18.3 in, courtesy of the artist.
2) Njideka Akunyili Crosby (Nigerian, born 1983), I Refuse to Be Invisible, 2010, Ink, charcoal, acrylic, and transfers on paper, 117 3/4 × 82 in. (299.1 × 208.3 cm), courtesy of Art Bridges.
3) Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972), Vika II, The Decks, Cape Town, 2019, gelatin silver print, courtesy of the Academy Art Museum.
On August 2, the Academy Art Museum (AAM) in Easton, Maryland opens an exciting exhibition: Fickle Mirror: Dialogues in Self-Portraiture. From the first staged photograph to the present day’s unceasing flow of selfies in social media, self-portraiture has expanded the possibilities of artistic production, enhancing the ability of artists to take control of their own representation, reinterpret truthfulness, and experiment with their chosen medium. When creating a self-portrait, the image-maker must exercise self-introspection, only to imagine and prepare themselves to be the subject of the viewer’s gaze. This exhibition explores the myriad ways in which artists use the theme of self-portraiture to explore, and at times manipulate their own representation. The selection has a particular focus on dialogues between works across art history, with a consideration of the influence of the invention and advancements of photographic techniques.
AAM Curator Mehves Lelic comments: “Curating this exhibition was an incredible opportunity. Bringing together significant works from art history and showing them alongside major works by some of the most exciting contemporary artists reflects on the ubiquity of self-exploration in art. AAM is honored to share these works with our audience, as we know that the complexity of depicting and representing the self is a theme that will resonate with viewers of all ages.”
The exhibition includes works by Francisco de Goya, Jacob Kainen, Emily Lombardo, and Zanele Muholi from the Museum’s Permanent Collection, as well as major loans of pieces by Njideka Akunyili-Crosby, Amy Sherald, Rembrandt van Rijn, Evan Penny, Andy Warhol, and others from Art Bridges Foundation, Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art, and private collections.
On view will be Nancy Floyd’s Weathering Time series. A 2022 Guggenheim Fellow, Floyd has been taking a self-portrait every day for the past 40 years. The project is a reflection on simultaneous joy and grief of living, as well as the representation women in photography. Floyd will speak at the Museum on Thursday, August 18 at 6 pm.
Evan Penny’s Young Self (Portrait of the Artist as He Was (Not), Variation #2) and Old Self: Portrait of the Artist as He Will (Not) Be, Variation #2 offer a sculptural foray into self-exploration. On loan from the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, the larger-than-life, hyperrealistic works are frank past and future projections of the artist himself, gazing directly into the viewer’s eyes. Penny elaborates not only on a “history of the self” but also the complexity of imagining one’s future: his old self is ironically a future possible self that he perhaps hopes not to become, as expressed by his clever title.
Also on view is a rare early work by acclaimed contemporary artist Amy Sherald. Created in 2003 as part of her MFA thesis project at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), the painting Falling from Grace offers a unique opportunity to see the emergence of a signature aesthetic that evolves into her mature work. Sherald’s work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Boston, MA; among others, and was recently commissioned to create the official portrait of Michelle Obama.
This will also be the first public showing of AAM’s new acquisition by Zanele Muholi, Vika II, The Decks, Cape Town. The work features Muholi biting into a circular wicker decorative object reminiscent of an African lip plate, a form of traditional body modification that has often been exoticized, and its wearers treated as a tourist attraction. Muholi teases the viewer with a form that resembles the plate, inviting the assumption that the subject is a mere object for the pleasure and curiosity of the viewer’s gaze. A closer look reveals that the object is not plate inside Muholi’s lip but merely a wicker disc the subject is playfully biting. Performing for the camera, Muholi complicates the dynamics of the image: the artist has all the control both as image-maker and subject.
Fickle Mirror also launches AAM’s collaboration with Art Bridges to present a monumental work by Nigerian American artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Titled I Refuse to Be Invisible, the work is composed of collaged, photographic transfers depicting the artist with her American husband. Born in Nigeria and relocating to the United States as a teenager, the work addresses the complexities of identity, belonging, and migration through imagery that references her dual backgrounds.
Art Bridges is a nonprofit arts foundation that creates and supports programs that expand access to American art around the country. It partners with art institutions on projects that deeply engage communities via thematic traveling exhibitions, long-term loan sharing collaborations, among additional initiatives. In addition to the loan, AAM is also working with Art Bridges to create exciting free programs for the public, such as a book talk, concert, and a family art day centered on Crosby’s work.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Art Bridges to share this important work with our audiences. I deeply admire the vision of the Foundation to disseminate great artworks to rural areas. We share a mission to provide everyone with access to art and a belief in the power of art to transform communities,” says AAM Director Sarah Jesse.
(Right) Evan Penny (Canadian, born 1953), Young Self: Portrait of the Artist as He Was (Not), Variation #2, 2011, Pigmented silicone, hair, fabric, and aluminum, 38 × 36 × 16 in. (96.5 × 91.4 × 40.6 cm), (Left) Old Self: Portrait of the Artist as He Will (Not) Be. Variation #2, 2010, 33 7/8 x 29 7/8 x 23 1/4 in. (86 x 75.9 x 59.1 cm), courtesy of Crystal Bridges Museum of Art.
Andy Warhol (American, 1928 – 1987), Self-Portrait, 1986, synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on canvas, 203.2 x 203.2 cm (80 x 80 in.), © 2022 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Mequitta Ahuja (American, born 1976), Mocoonama, 2012, Acrylic, colored pencil, watercolor, waxy chalk, and enamel on vellum, 87 × 73 × 2 in. (221 × 185.4 × 5.1 cm), courtesy of Crystal Bridges Museum of Art.
Amy Sherald (American, born 1973), Falling from Grace (detail), 2003, oil on canvas, 57 in x 54 in, courtesy of Keith Eric Timmons.
About the Academy Art Museum
As the premier art museum on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the Academy Art Museum presents high-quality exhibitions and a full range of art classes for visitors of all ages. Past exhibitions have featured artists such as James Turrell, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, Pat Steir and Richard Diebenkorn. The permanent collection focuses on works on paper by American and European artists from four centuries including recent acquisitions by Graciela Iturbide and Zanele Muholi. Arts educational programs range from life drawing lessons to digital art instruction, and include lunchtime and cocktail hour concerts, lectures and special art events, as well as a Fall Craft Show. AAM also provides arts education to public and private school children from the region and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
Location: 106 South Street, Easton, Maryland
Summer Hours (through September 4): Tuesday-Wednesday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Thursday 10:00 am to 7:30 pm (free admission), Friday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm. Closed Mondays and Federal holidays.
Admission: $3, children under 12 free, AAM members free.
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