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The Syracuse University Art Museum used their extensive collection and some loans to put together their “5,500 Years of Art.”
The Syracuse University Art Museum’s latest exhibit, “5,500 Years of Art,” is like taking a walk through history, with pieces dating back to 206 BC and as recent as last year.
Designed by Melissa Yuen, one of the museum curators, as well as museum staff and graduate assistants, the curation includes works from the museum’s permanent collection, loans and the pieces from Art Bridges Foundation, an art philanthropy group. It is meant to invoke conversations among students about identity, place, gender, race, labor and lineage.
“Melissa has highlighted the unique way that artwork allows all people to explore the same questions, concerns, and themes that have been discussed by artists for the past 5,500 years that our collection represents,” said Emily Dittman, associate director of the SU Art Museum.
The Art Bridges Foundation lent two pieces to the SU Art Museum for the exhibit — “Portrait of Qusuquzah #5” and “Double Nonsite, California and Nevada.”
The foundation has a goal of expanding access to American art. Instead of focusing on grants for more artwork, the foundation supports its partners by creating collection exhibitions and loaning out artwork.
The first piece on loan, “Portrait of Qusuquzah #5,” was painted by Mickalene Thomas in 2011, and is made out of acrylic paint and rhinestones. The piece depicts a Black transgender model looking directly at the viewer, which Yuen said she hopes will spark discourse about identity on campus.
“(The painting is) really important for us to have here on a university campus, to really think about who we are, how we present ourselves, and how does that reflect on different aspects of our identity,” she said.
Thomas’s work contrasts a portrait of Louis XIV that hangs directly next to it.
“This juxtaposition also actually speaks to a greater kind of art historical idea of who has been depicted in such large scale portraits throughout history,” Yuen added.
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The other piece from the Art Bridges Foundation, “Double Nonsite, California and Nevada,” was created by sculptor Robert Smithson in 1969 and consists of four steel boxes in the shape of a square filled with rocks.
The center consisted of obsidian from Nevada and lava from the Mark Mountain in California. This is meant to create conversations about place and what it means to different viewers, Yuen said.
“It was really important for me to be able to open these conversations and use the gallery as a space to have these conversations,” she said.
One piece, titled “Great American Muse #35,” is by Roger Shimomura, who graduated from SU in 1969. He is known for incorporating elements of pop art, made famous by Andy Warhol, while also using elements of his Japanese heritage.
“He wanted to break the stigma of what Japanese artists are allowed to paint as they were not really known for ‘engaging with the greats,’” Yuen said.
The overall goal for this exhibit is to start conversations through artwork that spans geographical borders and time periods to lead students to larger ideas, Yuen said.
“I hope that these pairings spark new dialogues and critical examinations of the work on view for research or personal conversations by the SU community and beyond,” Yuen said.
Published on August 31, 2022 at 12:02 am
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