In celebration of Brown University’s 250th Anniversary, the David Winton Bell Gallery and the Department of Visual Art present a series of one-person exhibitions by distinguished alumni. The works of Dawn Clements ‘86, Paul Ramirez Jonas ‘87, and Kerry Tribe ‘97 will be on view from February 15 to March 30. The second round of exhibitions, featuring the work of Sarah Morris ‘89, Rob Reynolds ‘90, and Taryn Simon ‘97 will be shown from April 12 through May 25.
These six alumni artists have established significant careers within the visual arts and were chosen to represent a diverse range of media. Incorporating drawings, paintings, sculpture, photographs, videos, and films, the artists create aesthetically diverse works. While there is no identifiable Brownian aesthetic, as Ralph Rugoff ’80 notes in his catalogue essay, “all seem to make art that grows out of expansive and invigoratingly skeptical ways of reading.” Each in her/his own way, investigates and interprets social and cultural phenomena.
Photographs from Taryn Simon’s series An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar will open the second group of exhibitions. Between 2003 and 2007, Simon traveled throughout the US investigating and gaining access to little-known places. She photographed the covert sanctums of the CIA, Scientology, and the Hanford nuclear waste storage facility, along with the archives of Lucasfilm, the den of a hibernating black bear, and the contraband room at JFK airport, to name just a few of her subjects. Presented together with her authoritative and often ironic texts, An American Index presents an unsettling compendium of the American experience.
Reinterpreting images of historical maritime disasters, Rob Reynolds invite us to look and also to read. Untitled (Empire Daybed) is a salon-style arrangement of maritime scenes of ships, shipwrecks, and seascapes accompanied by an Yves Klein-blue upholstered daybed that holds his “source” material: predominately accounts of disasters at sea, interspersed with a few eclectic selections such as The Essential Lenny Bruce and Living in The End Times. Visitors are invited to peruse these texts while sitting upon this hybrid sculpture/study center. Reynolds’s paintings feature short caption-like texts that are both enigmatic and descriptive. Titles, such as Chapter Seven and The Bohemian disaster, are carefully inscribed in the font used in the original source. In re-staging archival accounts of naval disaster, Reynolds aims not to deter our enjoyment of sublime images but perhaps to activate it – to prompt us, through a consideration of multiple perspectives, to enrich our own reading process.
Employing an unusual parallel practice of painting and filmmaking, Sarah Morris pictures cities: Manhattan, Washington, Miami, Los Angeles, Beijing, and in the current exhibition Rio. Beginning with the bustling life on the street, she films the iconic landmarks of Rio—the peak of Sugarloaf, the statue of Christ the Redeemer—as well as the fashionable beaches of Ipanema and the legendary slums of the “City of God.” Visual images build one upon another in a long-form meditation on place. Morris’s Rio paintings—in the style of the large geometric abstractions for which she is best known—take on the colors and emblems of Rio. A composition of blue, green, white, and black squares and triangles is titled Cosan [Rio], referencing the company’s logo: a stylized “C” in green and blue on a white background.
In continuing celebration of Brown University's 250th Anniversary, on April 11 we will present an afternoon of artist lectures. Taryn Simon, Rob Reynolds, and Sarah Morris will each speak, followed by a moderated conversation with Wendy Edwards, Chair of the Department of Visual Arts. The event will take place between 3 and 6 pm in the List Art Center Auditorium. An opening reception will follow in List Lobby.
All events are free and open to the public.