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Crystal Bridges unveils State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is dedicated to the idea that art is for everyone. The groundbreaking new exhibition, State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now,furthers the museum’s mission to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit and highlights the voices of 102 artists from across the country. State of the Art opens September 13, 2014 and runs through January 19, 2015 with complimentary admission sponsored by Walmart and Sam’s Club.

In 2013, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s curatorial team logged more than 100,000 miles, crisscrossing the country to visit nearly 1,000 artists. Traveling to communities large and small, the museum sought to discover artists whose work has not yet been fully recognized on a national scale. Never before has a curatorial team committed to so many visits across such a wide geographic sweep.

“In its 2014 report, the National Endowment for the Arts identified more than two million working artists in this country. There likely have never been more artists at work, and yet few will receive the attention and visibility their art deserves,” said Crystal Bridges President Don Bacigalupi. “Artists work in all parts of our nation.  Being a museum in the center of the country gives us a perfect vantage point to explore the breadth of contemporary art beyond the prevailing structures of the art world. After a long and exhilarating journey, we are thrilled to share our experiences and introduce these 102 artists to a broader audience.”

The exhibition showcases 102 artists with varying perspectives that offer a glimpse into American art right now. The exhibition examines the ways in which today’s artists are informed by the past, innovating with materials old and new, and engaging deeply with issues relevant to our times. From 24-year-old Wilmer Wilson’s compelling performance artworks to 87-year-old Mary Ann Currier’s exquisite still life drawings, the exhibition will connect and engage audiences of all backgrounds in new and exciting ways.

“Going to the source and meeting artists in the spaces where they make work provides powerful insights and ultimately informs how the work is received,“ said Crystal Bridges Curator Chad Alligood. “Overlooked places like Wichita, San Antonio, Pittsburgh, and Las Vegas have rich and textured artscapes. I am changed because of each encounter with the artists and their work. Art lies in the feeling of being changed; through this exhibition, we hope to bring that to our audiences.”

To date, State of the Art is Crystal Bridges’ largest exhibition in both scope and scale, representing an enormously broad spectrum of mediums, themes and artistic approaches.

Visitors to the exhibition will traverse through the museum’s permanent collection galleries, featuring masterworks such as Asher Brown Durand’s Kindred Spirits and Georgia O’Keeffe’s Radiator Building—Night, New York, before arriving at the State of the Art North Gallery. Occupying a total of 19,000 square feet, 227 works including oil on canvas, photography, video, installation, sculpture, ceramics and more reach beyond the temporary exhibition spaces, extending into the permanent collection galleries and activating community areas indoors and out.

From the monumentally playful Lowrider Piñata, made from paper and cardboard by artist Justin Favela, to Angela Ellsworth’s delicately haunting Close to You bonnets created from more than 25,000 pearl corsage pins, the exhibition offers an unusually diverse look at art being created right now. The exhibition also invites participation with works like Andy DuCett’s Mom Booth, an installation staffed with real moms, our earliest source of all information, and artist-duo Works Progress’ Water Bar, integrated into the museum lobby across from the coffee bar.

“Contemporary art has too often been dismissed as “something a child could do,” or—worse—irrelevant.” said Bacigalupi. “Contemporary artists live and work among us. We can learn so much about the past and other cultures from art. It’s been a lifelong passion and responsibility for me to expand access and understanding of the valuable and important communications embedded within the art of our own time. The exhibition is a call to action, both within the field and beyond, to pay more attention to the artists around us, and what they have to say.”

State of the Art is sponsored by the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, Christie’s, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, L’Oréal Paris, Tyson Foods, Inc. and John Tyson, 21c Museum Hotels, and Crystal Bridges’ Global Initiative Fund and Art Now Fund. Admission to the exhibition is sponsored by Walmart and Sam’s Club.

Additional resources:

Crystal Bridges highlights the individuality of the 102 artists and their work through public events ranging from lectures, gallery talks, workshops, and classes to school programs. More than half of the artists will participate in some type of educational program before the exhibition closes in January, 2015.

To connect visitors to the artists and make the artwork more accessible, a variety of digital resources have been developed to complement the traditional printed catalog and brochures. The various digital resources will have specific functions based on location and provide a way to share the artist voice though profiles, videos with insights into the art-making process, as well as other educational features.

State of the Art app- a free app is available to download to Android or Apple devices. Each of the numbered stops on the tour includes a high-resolution image, curators’ remarks, and audio or video clips featuring the artists in their studio. It’s the ultimate State of the Art experience complete with a full list of exhibition events, recordings of lectures and talks, blog posts, and more.

State of the Art audio guide- audio guides are available at no cost to all visitors to Crystal Bridges. For State of the Art the museum’s audio guide will include the art stops in the permanent collection as well as highlights of the State of the Art exhibition.

State of the Art kiosks- located at the entrance of the State of the Art North Gallery and in the Great Hall corridor by the State of the Art South Gallery, the custom applications give viewers the ability to look at the work, learn about the artist’s motivation, and watch recorded interviews.  Additionally, users can navigate the U.S. map to find artists in their community.

State of the Art digital wall labels- for the first time, digital labels will accompany the artwork inside the galleries to allow close-up views at the composition, artists’ quotes, and insight and comparisons to other works in the permanent collection.