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Reveal/Conceal: Exploring Identity in Contemporary Art

August 14, 2018 – October 28, 2018

Organized by the Arkansas Arts Center

Reveal/Conceal: Exploring Identity in Contemporary Art features two- and three-dimensional artworks from the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation collection. Collectively, the works in the exhibition illustrate the myriad ways by which contemporary artists reveal – or, in some instances, conceal – either their identities or those of their subjects.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a recent acquisition – Ebony G. Patterson’s Untitled (Marvini), from the Disciplez Series. A monumental work, the mixed-media triptych illustrates the artist’s ongoing “exploration of constructions of the masculine within popular culture.” Using Jamaican dancehall culture as a platform for this discourse, her work examines the “fashionable practice of skin bleaching, followed by examinations of so-called ‘bling culture’ and its relationship to the masculine within the urban context.” Patterson’s artwork prompts a dialogue about body politics, performance of gender, gender and beauty, beauty and stereotyping, race and beauty, and body and ritual.

Also using portraiture as a vehicle for expression is ceramic sculptor Peter Lenzo. Influenced by the nineteenth-century Southern pottery face jug tradition, Lenzo creates self-portrait face jugs that are a unique interpretation of this long-standing folk art tradition. His boldly colored sculptures are a personal response to the debilitating effects of epileptic seizures he experienced many years after a 1977 bike accident and serve as a visual diary and creative outlet. Because of their unpredictable frequency and their severity, the episodes required the artist to begin wearing protective headgear to prevent further head trauma. Seizure in the Garden (2005) features two Janus-like heads representing the two Peters: “healthy” Peter and “sick” Peter. On the back of the work, he documents several other episodes that occurred in the first half of that year, all of which the artist named – much as hurricanes are named. Also on the back are additional recollections about the found objects that adorn the work, as well as other personal details.

Through these and the more than twenty other works in the exhibition, visitors are encouraged to “look within,” gaining a deeper understanding of the artworks’ creators – and perhaps themselves.

Featured Works from the Exhibition

Ebony G. Patterson, Jamaican (Kingston, Jamaica, 1981 - ), Untitled (Marvini), from the Disciplez Series, 2009, mixed media on hand-cut paper, plastic toy guns, plastic toy cars, and plastic toy tools, 48 inches (each), Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchase, Tabriz Fund. 2017.036

Peter Lenzo, American (Staten Island, New York, 1955 - ), Seizure in the Garden, 2005, high-fire glazed stoneware, found porcelain objects, and nichrome wire, 12 x 8 x 7 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Gift of the Porter.Price Collection. 2016.033.006

Nancy Grossman, American (New York, New York, 1940 - ), Untitled, 1971, graphite, gesso, and collage on paper, 21 7/8 x 29 1/2 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Gift of Gisela Quitzan. 1984.054

Thom Hall, American (Fayetteville, Arkansas, 1948 - ), Sylvia Moskowitz in the Early Days at Fayetteville with Lee from a Later Time - I was Laverne that night and with that fur Joan would have been jealous of the shoulders and I did the drag it from one wrist routine for hours. Lee was mostly legs., 2004, watercolor crayon, gesso, and gouache on paper, 50 x 38 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchased with a gift from Kay Kelley Arnold. 2005.009

John Bankston, American (Benton Harbor, Michigan, 1963 - ), Flowers to Chains, 2015, acrylic and watercolor on paper, 22 x 30 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchase, Tabriz Fund. 2017.024.0026

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