Call & Response pulls the curtain back on how the Museum builds its collection, in this case, acquiring works by Black artists created the past 30 years. In assessing the potential addition of a work of art, Museum staff ask how a new piece will enrich the Museum’s existing holdings. Call & Response, therefore, is primarily a show about making connections between works of  art and the artists who created them. The paintings, sculptures, and works on paper are installed in the gallery as if in conversation with each other.

Connections in Call & Response include expanding our understanding of how materials have been used by 20th-century artists. The Museum,
for example, acquired The Letter (1951) shortly after artist David Smith created it. Smith (1906-1965), who is white, revolutionized how we think about sculpture, from an object in space to “drawing in space” with welded metal. A generation later, Melvin Edwards (born 1937) welds a variety of materials that are symbolic of the African American experience into Lynch Fragments; the Museum acquired four pieces in the 1990s. Similarly, connections can be found between artists and their subject matter, such as scenes of everyday life, which are also known as “genre” subjects. The Museum owns any number of such paintings and works on paper by European and white American artists but had none by African Americans until it
acquired graphic arts by Tom Miller and William E. Smith. Throughout the show, one can also find works of art installed together that speak to similar interests, such as Romare Bearden’s traditional collage, Before the Dark (1971) and Lorna Simpson’s collage-like conceptual photography of Counting (1991). Artists in the exhibition include Jean-Michel Basquiat, Norman Lewis, Alison Saar, Betye Saar, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, and many others.
 
Call & Response includes commentary by seven community contributors who developed a collection of responses via a multi-media app, using music, personal history, and comparative works of art.

Call & Response: Collecting African American Art
Museum of Art
Saturday, June 19, 2021 - Sunday, September 26, 2021 10:00 am
Price: $0.00 / Member Price: