Simen Johan has crafted a series of uncanny photographs of animals that delight and perplex. Striving to “confuse the boundaries between opposing forces, such as the familiar and the otherworldly, the natural and the artificial, the amusing and the eerie,” Johan mixes sweet images appropriate for children’s literature with dark and mysterious scenes that might illustrate our primordial beginnings or apocalyptic ends. Smiling owls and weeping foxes mimic human emotions. Flamingos perform ballet. Reindeer lay frozen in ice, and moose battle each other amidst a flock of parakeets.
Curated by Jo-Ann Conklin
image: Simen Johan, Untitled, 2006
Linda and Louis Tanner '55 met at an opening at the Museum of Modern Art in the fall of 1966. Within a few months, they were married. Wedding gifts from artist-friends, including Claes Oldenberg, began what became a central passion of their life together: collecting art. The works exhibited here are a highlight from this gift and reflect the breadth and depth of the Tanner Collection. Grounded in modernist art from the 1970s onward, the collection includes important works by major figures such as Frank Stella and Robert Rauschenberg; surprising detours, such as a Beverly Pepper “rust print;” powerful works by lesser-known modernists, such as Bram Bogart; and works by a younger generation of artists, represented here in paintings by David Ryan and Shirley Kaneda. This gift broadens the Bell Gallery collection through the addition of works by Italian Arte Povera artists Michelangelo Pistoletto and Lucio Fontana, and other artists not formerly represented. It also adds depth. For example, a powerful three-dimensional print from Frank Stella’s Moby-Dick Dome series (1992) complements our collection of 68 early paintings, sculptures, and prints by Stella (dating from 1958 to 1975).
Don’t Get Out Much includes a series of large-scale photographic collages and a 490 sq. ft. mural that covers the entire surface of the windows in the List Art Center entrance. The work of assistant professor Theresa Ganz, the series continues the artist’s exploration of nature. Having grown up in New York City, Ganz points out that her interest in nature is more aesthetic than actual, derived from the study of German Romantic painting and literature. The collages in the exhibition combine photographs of glacial rocks and tidal pools with loose washes of watercolor that softening the hard edges of the real. The window mural extends the watercolor onto the windows, thereby washing the gallery with soft colors and uniting the viewer and the work within a shared environment.
curated by Jo-Ann Conklin
image: Theresa Ganz, Tidal Pool III, 2012
A new installation by Jin Shan 靳山
A leading voice in an emerging generation of socially engaged contemporary artists in China, Shanghai-based Jin Shan is an agent provocateur. Preferring wit and satire to aggression and conflict, his work uses humor and play to draw audiences into a confrontation with the social, cultural and political problems of the modern world. In this special project for the Bell Gallery, Jin Shan responds to power dynamics in contemporary China, invoking the social meme "My dad is Li Gang!" — a short-hand satirical critique of the corrupt financial and political elite of China who believe they can avoid responsibility for harm they have inflicted on others. My dad is Li Gang! is a declaration of Jin Shan's cultural position and social obligation as an artist to engage political issues and make them visible. His most ambitious project to date, My dad is Li Gang! will see Jin Shan realize a single, large-scale installation in the main gallery of the David Winton Bell Gallery. This will be Jin Shan's second solo exhibition in the United States and occurs in conjunction with his first New York gallery solo show at Masters & Pelavin.
Curated by Ian Alden Russell
image: Jin Shan, My dad is Li Gang! 我爸是李刚! [detail], 2012 (Photo: Zhong Han 钟晗)
Recent works by Hannah Barrett, Caleb Cole, Jane Maxwell, Randy Regier, Kent Regowski, and TRIIIBE
Life is a play with many roles. Whether from teddy bears, toys, or fashion icons, parents, siblings, or complete strangers, we seek out models for how to be human. This exhibition features recent work by New England artists skilled in playful mimicry, inversion, and assemblage. Representing photography, collage, sculpture, and painting, the works shown here share a sense of "serious play" with the modes, methods, materials, and processes of forming, inheriting, and expressing personal and social identities. They offer a reminder to children of all ages that identity is not fixed or inherited but made and maintained, and despite the differences and, at times, discord of our many senses of self, we share something in common in the way we enjoy the creative possibilities of becoming human.
Curated by Ian Alden Russell
image: Caleb Cole, The Pink Kitchen, 2008
A Natural Order focuses on a network of people who have left cities and suburbs to live off the grid in the southeastern United States. Over a four-year period beginning in the summer of 2006, Lucas Foglia met, stayed with, photographed, and recorded copious conversations with people at “rewilding” communities such as Wildroots Earthskills Homestead, at Christian communities such as Russell Creek Community, and with smaller independent groups. His subjects have embraced a self-sufficient lifestyle for varied reasons: religious, environmental or political; liberal or libertarian. They all strive for self-sufficiency and sustainability, but none are totally isolated from the outside. As Foglia tells us, “Many have websites that they update using laptop computers and cell phones that they charge on car batteries or solar panels.”
Curated by Jo-Ann Conklin
image: Acorn with Possum Stew, Wildroots Homestead, North Carolina, 2006
The David Winton Bell Gallery and the Department of Visual Art present the work of talented Brown artists in the 32nd annual Student Exhibition. The exhibition is open to all Brown University students. Jurors for this year's exhibition are Ellen Driscoll, Head of Sculpture, Rhode Island School of Design; and Deborah Bright, Acting Dean of Fine Arts, Rhode Island School of Design.
image: Anne Muselmann, File Cabinet, 2011
Optical Noise is the latest in a long and distinguished series of exhibitions prepared by first- and second-year graduate students in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture. The works featured in Optical Noise are drawn almost entirely from the collections of the David Winton Bell Gallery. The collection is particularly strong in works on paper, including British and American examples made as part of the print revival of the 1960s and 1970s. A selection of these prints and two related films, which have been lent to this exhibition, are the subject of Optical Noise.
Curated by Monica Bravo, Alexandra K. Collins, Sara Hayat, Amy S. Huang, Sarah Rovang, and Rebecca A. Szantyr, with Professors Herve Vanel and Catherine Zerner
image: Mel Ramos, Tobacco Rose, 1965
Featuring the work of Meridith Pingree, Jasper Rigole, Jonathan Schipper, Gregory Witt, and Zimoun, this exhibition explores the intersection between nostalgia and technology in contemporary sculpture. The five artists incorporate very simple machinery to create works that evoke different aspects of nostalgia. Rather than specific lost moments of time, they capture more abstract, visceral registers of this sentiment, whether in the form of a sense memory (of rain, or of skin crawling), a personal history (moments of key decisions), or an aesthetic associated with memory (such as the historical documentary).
Curated by Maya Allison
image: Gregory Witt, Packing Tape, 2010
Building Expectation: Past and Present Visions of the Architectural Future presents a collection of historic and ongoing visions of the future from the nineteenth century until the present day. The exhibition’s content has been drawn from a number of university libraries and private collections, as well as the Swiss state-supported museum of utopia known as the Maison d’Ailleurs (House of Elsewhere). Many of these objects have never before been exhibited in the United States.
Curated by Nathaniel Robert Walker
image: Katherine Roy, View of Industria, 2011
A selection of works from the permanent collection mounted in conjunction with Masterpieces of Western Art and Architecture, a course offered by the Department of the History of Art and Architecture.
Curated by Jo-Ann Conklin
image: Edgar Degas, Dancer Rubbing her Knee, ca. 1885
Among the Breakage features recent paintings by ten Providence artists. As this sampling suggests, Providence’s creative communities are more akin to an archipelago than a single island of “regional style.” Work in this exhibition ranges from hard-edged abstraction to hybrid figurative landscapes and techniques that stretch the very definition of painting. Participating artists are Sam Duket, Shawn Gilheeney, Ernest Jolicoeur, Maria Napolitano, Lisa Perez, Ara Peterson, Masha Ryskin, Monica Shinn, Dan Talbot, and Jason Travers. The exhibition was curated by Maya Allison and Neal Walsh.
Curated by Maya Allison and Neal Walsh
image: Ara Peterson, detail from Arcade, 2007