State of the Art 2020 may be packing up soon, but its presence will remain long after it leaves the galleries. Crystal Bridges has created a virtual reality experience of the exhibition that will allow users from all over the world to interact with the exhibition digitally. The museum has also acquired 31 artworks from 28 artists featured in State of the Art 2020.
Read more about the VR program and new acquisitions below.
State of the Art 2020 VR is a virtual version of the exhibition that allows the exhibition to live on long after it leaves the walls of Crystal Bridges and the Momentary. The project was led by Shane Richey, creative director of production at Crystal Bridges, and produced by Prisma.
In State of the Art 2020 VR, which is currently available at the link below, users can explore the galleries just as they would if they were visiting Crystal Bridges or the Momentary. Users are able to zoom in and out of artworks to explore details, read wall text, and see artworks in conversation with one another.
The virtual exhibition features audio recorded by the exhibition curators (Lauren Haynes, Allison Glenn, and Alejo Benedetti), providing information on the exhibition, art, and artists. A guided tour option is available that leads a viewer through the highlights of the exhibition.
“The great thing about VR is that while we move on to other exhibitions, people can come back and experience State of the Art 2020 again and again,” said Richey. “This VR tour is a historical timestamp for Crystal Bridges and the Momentary as well as for this moment in contemporary art. And at a time when we’re all still mindful of social distancing, everyone can interact with art, from anywhere around the world.”
State of the Art 2020 VR begins its early web launch this week, and will expand to a full launch (to include mobile [iOS] and VR [Oculus Store] viewing) in September 2020. It will remain live for the foreseeable future.
Crystal Bridges has acquired 31 artworks by 28 artists featured in State of the Art 2020 that will be added to the museum’s permanent collection. The artwork by Alex Bradley Cohen listed below was not featured in the exhibition, but Cohen was a featured artist in the exhibition.
“We are thrilled to welcome these 31 artworks to our collection to add to the unfolding story of American art,” said Lauren Haynes, director of artist initiatives and curator, contemporary art at Crystal Bridges and the Momentary. “The diversity of thought, materials, experiences, and topics represented in these artworks help us make sense of the complex times we live in. We’re excited to see the impact these artists and their artworks have on our visitors for years to come.”
A full list of the acquisitions can be found below (in alphabetical order by artist’s last name). A selection of these works will remain on view at Crystal Bridges through November.
Portraying symbolic forms such as vessels, eyes, and teardrops, Mae Aur creates optical illusions within her fantastical imagery, such as two green figures in The Gaurdeners that form two vases in the gap between them.
In his paintings, video installations, assemblage works, sculptures, and performances, Paul Stephen Benjamin explores the questions, “What is the color black?” and “If the color black had a sound, what would it sound like?” In Summer Breeze (2018), Benjamin combines clips of the singers Billie Holiday and Jill Scott singing part of Holiday’s iconic 1939 song “Strange Fruit,” a haunting tune about lynching and racism in the United States. This soundtrack accompanies images that Benjamin has sourced from the internet, including footage of a little girl on a swing.
Frank Blazquez turns his camera on everyday New Mexicans, including those dealing with the impact of drug abuse, incarceration, or both and those who identify along the Latino/a/x spectrum. Blazquez’s portraiture helps eliminate separations between the sphere of Southwest Latina/o and traditional American photography.
JooYoung Choi sets this work on, “Enough Room for Everyone Island,” an imaginary island that is a refuge for brontosauruses when scientists doubt their existence. In Choi’s soft sculpture, flowers encircle the dinosaur and a cast of colorful characters. Drawing on her own childhood worries about fitting in, Choi’s works offer safe spaces in a sometimes unwelcoming world.
Check out our interview with JooYoung Choi about this work:
The Chicago-based painter Alex Bradley Cohen uses his family and friends as subjects and paints them in bright backgrounds and scenery, offering glimpses inside their homes and interior lives. He likes to capture them in mid-conversation, either with others of himself, while they’re in the midst of everyday activities including having drinks and playing games.
While Chanel Thomas was not in State of the Art 2020, Cohen was one of the featured artists in the exhibition.
Carla Edwards created Bonfire to mark the fear and anxiety she felt around the 2016 election cycle. For this fiery-colored quilted work, Edwards manipulated strips taken from American flags and reworked them to create a new symbol of American individuality.
Peter Everett creates works that explore the immediate visual power of abstract forms. Much of Everett’s inspiration ties back to painting. He says, “Paint is very tactile and physical—I love how it moves, looks, and smells. While I frequently use a range of materials—including video, computer-based systems, and sculptural forms—all of my work is grounded in the physicality, history, and language of painting.”
Elisa Harkins sings in both English and Cherokee. For Wampum, she blends Indigenous music from the 1800s, traditional Indigenous dance, and electronic dance music to create something uniquely her own. Harkins wears a black and gold tear dress, a traditional garment worn by Cherokee women.
On St. Bernard Ave. in New Orleans, six lounges served a predominantly black neighborhood for generations. These bars become home to vibrant arts and culture traditions such as Black Masking Indians and Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs. The lounges became a safe space where patrons could buy affordable drinks, eat, listen to music, and socialize. Then Hurricane Katrina came in 2005, displacing the community.
As Harris notes, “now half of those bars are white-owned, with most offering little to no reference to the previous establishment—their histories are gone. What happens to the culture when it’s displaced?”
Drawing on her Chicana heritage and the history of her native Texas, Hernandez assumes the guise of European colonists whose portraits don’t fully reveal the traditions of colonization associated with historical artworks.
In these works, Letitia Huckaby reflects on broken promises, ponders what could have been, and considers how histories get passed down from generation to generation. The images featured in these vintage embroidery hoops offer snapshots into places and landscapes central to Huckaby’s own life, as well the histories of many other African Americans with roots in Southern soil.
According to Jackson, “Painting faces (or people) is a practice that allows me to explore the complexities of humanity. Every person has a story. Every face archives experiences that are psychologically and emotionally embedded… but I am not a portrait painter. I seek to facilitate an engagement between my work and the viewer – with the viewer gazing upon an image… studying the face of another… speculating of their story… and identifying with their humanity.”
Suchitra Mattai weaves vintage Indian saris from her own family with saris from the United Arab Emirates and India. For Mattai, Exodus “connects diasporic communities of South Asians across the globe, giving voice to generations of women while also probing questions of displacement resulting from European colonization. Focusing on this period is both a means of tracing my family’s history in Guyana and of fostering discussion around contemporary issues surrounding labor and gender.”
The scene, which Hannah McBroom experienced at a recent family wedding, illustrates the familiar, uncomfortable tension felt in social settings when her gender identity becomes something needing explanation. Much of McBroom’s practice centers around belonging—understanding how her body and those of other transgender people fit into a predominantly gender normative culture.
This image, taken in Springdale, Arkansas, reveals a recent cultural phenomenon of cellular towers camouflaged by religious architecture. Practically undetectable by the average passerby, cellular companies are leasing land and steeples from churches to meet the increased demand for comprehensive coverage across the United States. A keen observer of contemporary life, Art Miller aims to question the complex relationship between commerce and religion.
In her work, Jiha Moon brings together a variety of images and symbols to explore the global movements of people and their cultures. Moon references both Eastern and Western art histories and elements of popular culture, mixing traditional artmaking materials like handmade Hanji paper with everyday items such as nail decals and hair extensions.
Kris Pierce explores the intersection of our physical and virtual identities, thinking specifically about how and where these two worlds merge. Ideas about life, death, love, status, authenticity, power—the cornerstones of human experience—shift when we set aside face-to-face experience and enter the digital realm. Pierce plays with these themes through a range of digital media, including this engaging two-channel video.
Tim Portlock creates an unsettling fusion of fictional city planning—rendered through 3D gaming technology—and real-life urban decay, as depicted through photography. We view the landscapes from an elevated perspective, as if floating amid the abandoned ships and drifting balloons. Appearing desolate and at times post-apocalyptic, Portlock’s imagined cityscapes lay in a state of ruin, yet take inspiration from the actual environment found just outside his door.
With this new work, Diego Rodriguez-Warner says he set out to make a painting that was “beautiful, and ominous, and inspiring, that was an amalgam of disparate parts pulling and pushing against each other, a high energy painting that I can try to believe in.” Along with the addition of some of his own drawings, the artist includes fragments of historical artworks, including references to Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and sixteenth-century engravings of witch burnings.
The word “Americana” is a reference to a broad category of objects and symbols that are inherently “American,” including Coca-Cola, road trips, blues music, Ford cars, and the idea of the American Dream. The reflective surface of these cut-metal letters reflects not only the viewer, but the landscape beyond to indicate how the idea of America expands beyond the confines of the United States, suggesting that “Pan American culture is without borders.”
Blueberry (The Right to Self) presents a kaleidoscopic exploration of family histories, memories, and tangled relationships. The ghostly figures seated on the sofa represent Seaberry and his father, who endured a tumultuous relationship that he seeks to put to rest. The more sharply rendered woman on the right bears the future, literally—it depicts Seaberry’s pregnant sister.
Seapker’s paintings serve as a meditation on her journey as a mother and the uncertainty that comes with raising children in today’s complicated world. Tent Mama portrays an abstracted maternal figure using her body to create a shelter for the child who looks out at us, a reminder that they will inherit the world we leave behind.
This work appears to be in a state of decay. Sonnenberg inserts a number of symbols in his work, and his particular use of silk flowers references his queer identity while also serving as a personal ‘memento mori,’ or artistic symbol for the inevitability of death. For the artist, the work serves to remind him of the shortness of life, and helps him forget his fear of death.
This image depicts an abandoned and deteriorating barn in Horry County—a historic agricultural community in South Carolina—located a few hours south of Damian Stamer’s home. Stamer drew inspiration from old photographs and his own memory in painting this scene. He used printmaking techniques to produce a kaleidoscope effect through the layering of cracked lines and pops of brilliant color. The pitched ceiling draws the eye to the top of the canvas, creating an illusion of expansiveness, while the softly indistinct imagery echoes nostalgic memories of a simpler time.
Offering a surreal twist to her images, Su Su draws from her own experience of being born in China under the one-child policy and later relocating to the United States. Her navigating of the subtle and sometimes dramatic differences between the two cultures finds expression in her playful and enigmatic artworks.
Stacy Lynn Waddell’s work explores the question: “Can the human brain perceive race once the eye no longer sees skin color?” Her monochromatic gold portraits recall vintage sepia photographs in both color and composition, and appear frozen in time.
For over six decades, Larry Walker has created paintings, drawings, collages, and mixed media works intended to spark conversations about popular culture and current events. Here Walker pairs his signature shadowy figures he calls “wall spirits” with images of politicians, a Mars Attacks movie poster, found signs, newspaper, and magazine pages to raise questions about current US immigration policy and who is and is not allowed in the United States.
The figures in this painting are cloaked by a repeating pattern of eyes looking out at us. Didier William draws inspiration for his work “from multiple different locations, including the intersecting systems of gender and race and pop culture.” His titles are often written in Haitian Kreyòl (Creole) and include Haitian pop-culture references like the music group Boukan Ginen.