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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Announces New Acquisitions by Female Artists: Amy Sherald, Marie Watt, Lorraine O’Grady, and Dyani White Hawk

Companion Species Speech Bubble 2019 by Marie Watt

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announces new acquisitions to the museum’s permanent collection–all by contemporary female artists, including Amy Sherald, Marie Watt, Lorraine O’Grady, and Dyani White Hawk.

“These acquisitions demonstrate Crystal Bridges’ commitment to developing an inclusive American art collection—and exhibition program,” said Austen Barron Bailly, chief curator, Crystal Bridges. “We made great strides in 2019 by organizing and presenting exhibitions that featured artists from a wide range of backgrounds, including female artists of color such as Amy Sherald; Men of Steel, Women of Wonder; and Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices 1950s to Now. Looking ahead to a new decade, we are excited to continue to highlight the contributions of underrepresented artists to American art history, many of whom are introduced to Crystal Bridges audiences through our exhibitions.”

Precious jewels by the sea (2019) by Amy Sherald
Long before she arrived on the national stage as an award-winning portraitist and was chosen by Michelle Obama in 2017 to paint the First Lady’s official portrait for the National Portrait Gallery, artist Amy Sherald painted and documented a contemporary, black American experience. In 2018, the solo exhibition, Amy Sherald, was shown at Crystal Bridges and The Contemporary Art Museum St Louis.

Precious jewels by the sea is one of the monumental paintings that she presented in her show of new work at Hauser & Wirth, her first show with the gallery. Sherald depicted a group of teenagers at the beach in a larger-than-life manner– the painting is 10 feet high and nine feet wide. The varying shades of monochromatic gray that she uses for skin tone contrast with her subjects’ brightly colored outfits and the blues of the sea and sky, further accentuating the youth’s presence.

“We are thrilled to add this important work by Sherald to the Crystal Bridges collection,”said Lauren Haynes, curator, contemporary art at Crystal Bridges and curator of visual arts at the Momentary. “Museum visitors truly connected to Sherald’s work when we had her exhibition on view and to be able to continue the conversations started during that moment is especially exciting.”

“I look at America’s heart — people, landscapes, and cityscapes — and I see it as an opportunity to add to an American art narrative… I paint because I am looking for versions of myself in art history and in the world.”—Amy Sherald

This artwork is scheduled to go on view in early 2020.

Companion Species (Speech Bubble) (2019) by Marie Watt
Portland, Oregon, artist Marie Watt, a member of the Seneca Nation, is known for her “Blanket Stories,” artworks that interweave Indigenous knowledge, intercultural exchange, and personal biographies. Her work is in the collections of the Denver Art Museum, National Museum of the American Indian, Seattle Art Museum, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, among others. Another work by Watt was featured in Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Now, an exhibition that was organized and debuted at Crystal Bridges in 2018.

In the last several years, Watt has been creating large textiles through community sewing circle events. Companion Species (Speech Bubble) (2019) was made of embroidered reclaimed blankets and thread by participants at various Crystal Bridges events, the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Art Center of the Ozarks in Springdale, and the Cherokee Arts Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma in the fall of 2018. The work measures more than 11 feet high and 16 feet long and incorporates words such as neighbor, companion, mother, father, and brother, all rendered in unique stitches reflecting the hands of the many contributors of the sewing circles.

“This acquisition is a superb addition to our art collection” said Mindy N. Besaw, curator, Crystal Bridges. “Watt’s art also holds a personal connection to our community and the museum’s efforts to celebrate Indigenous art and artists. Watt was in residence in Northwest Arkansas in November 2018 in conjunction with the Art for a New Understanding exhibition—this artwork is a direct result of her time here.”

This artwork is scheduled to go on view in the fall of 2020.

Untitled (Mlle Bourgeoise Noire) (1980-83/2009) by Lorraine O’Grady
Lorraine O’Grady is a visual artist who addresses feminist concerns and cultural perspectives through a variety of mediums including performance, photo installation, moving media, and photomontage. Her artworks have been acquired by, among other institutions, the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Tate Modern, London, UK; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY. Her work was featured in Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power at Crystal Bridges in 2018.

This acquisition, Untitled (Mlle Bourgeoise Noire) (1980-83/2009), is a series of photographs documenting O’Grady’s first public artwork, a performance art piece in which she wore a gown and cape made of 180 pairs of white gloves, gave away 36 white flowers, beat herself with a white cat-o-nine-tails, and shouted poems that criticized the mindsets of the white and the black art worlds.

In the early 1980s, O’Grady made uninvited appearances at openings at the New Museum of Contemporary Art and Just Above Midtown Gallery as the farcical and indicting persona Miss Black Middle-Class 1955, demanding attention for black women artists. These 14 photos chronicle the invading moments of the performance.

“This acquisition reflects the museum’s commitment to presenting twentieth-century art at Crystal Bridges, including art from the 1960s through the 1980s in a more in-depth way” said Haynes. “These photographs allow us to continue conversations about performance art.”

This artwork is scheduled to go on view in 2020.

She Gives (Quiet Strength V) (2019) by Dyani White Hawk
Dyani White Hawk is a Sičangu Lakota artist, an Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellow, and a recipient of the 2019 United States Artists Fellowship in Visual Art, among other awards. Her artwork has been collected by the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Denver Art Museum, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, and others.

White Hawk is known for her intricate paintings that either embed or mimic aspects of her Lakota heritage onto canvas. She Gives (Quiet Strength V) (2019) is part of a recent series that speaks to the resilience of Indigenous women, which White Hawk honors through her paintings. The acquisition features repeating diamonds in black and white, painted to resemble quillwork, sitting atop a shimmering copper background.

“This acquisition will continue Crystal Bridges’ commitment to expanding the definition of American art while also introducing White Hawk to new and existing audiences at the museum,” said Haynes.  “This painting fits beautifully with our strong collection of abstract paintings by artists such as Carmen Herrera, Agnes Martin, Alma Thomas, and Emmi Whitehorse.”

This artwork is scheduled to go on view in the spring of 2020.

Check CrystalBridges.org or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates on when specific artworks will go on view.

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