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  • American University Museum
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Early Fall Exhibitions

September 12 through October 18, 2015


Gerhardt Knodel: Let the Games Begin!

September 12 to October 18, 2015

In Gerhardt Knodel’s latest work, gaming-based strategies provide both a visual and conceptual point of entry. Like game playing, involvement often yields unexpected consequences. Approached as pure entertainment, games can evolve into unexpected experiences with both a lighter and a darker side, subtle shifts in expectation relative to outcome. Likewise with art.

His work poses questions about art and life in the 21st century. Can the act and associations of playing a game be visually communicated? Can the rush of excitement that comes with winning be found in objects that are physically quiet and experienced at a distance? Can the frustration of playing games that cannot be won become a link in understanding the goals of art in which there are no right or wrong answers?

His work centers on four groups of work — conceptual games with historic textiles; visual games; dexterity games; and gaming with ideas about art. Each of the groups leads the viewer to art experiences inspired by thoughts about competition, accumulation and loss, human relationships, mind manipulation, the endless repetition of the patterns of life, and the tension between informed authority and self-discovered knowledge. Knodel intends the work to provoke consideration of links to the world of textiles in unexpected and provocative ways.


Blood Mirror

September 12 to October 18, 2015 

Blood Mirror, organized by artist Jordan Eagles, seeks to create an open dialogue and effect change around the US Food & Drug Administration's current discriminatory policy on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. 

In 2015, Jordan Eagles enlisted a group of nine extraordinary gay men, each with a unique life story, to donate their blood in protest of the FDA’s ban and for the creation of a sculpture, Blood Mirror. Leo Herrera, activist and filmmaker, documented the process in an original, political art film.

The men who donated their blood to this project include: An 88-year-old openly gay priest; A Nigerian gay rights activist on political asylum in the U.S.; A Co-Founder of Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC); The CEO of GMHC; An identical gay twin whose straight brother is eligible to donate; A captain in the Army who served two terms in Iraq and was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (reinstated to service in 2014); A married transgender male couple, and; A bisexual father of two. Dr. Howard Grossman, former director of the American Academy of HIV Medicine, was the medical supervisor on the project, as well as a blood donor. Each man is currently ineligible to donate blood under the FDA’s current policy — but since they cannot donate their blood to save lives, they’ve chosen to donate their blood for art.

The sculpture, Blood Mirror, is a seven-foot-tall monolith in which the viewer can see him or herself reflected in the blood of the nine donors, which has been encased and fully preserved. A totem of science and equality, the sculpture is a time capsule of the donors’ blood that embodies the 32-year history of the FDA’s discriminatory ban.


Huffington Post: 'Blood Mirror' Art Installation Draws Attention To FDA Gay Blood Ban

MSNBC's "Shift"

Identities Mic: This Artist Is Protesting The FDA's Gay Blood Ban In The Most Intense Way

Slate: This Beautiful, Blood-Filled Sculpture Brilliantly Condemns the Gay Blood Ban 

Passport Magazine: See Art Made from the Blood of Gay Men to Protest FDA Ban on Gay Blood

Logo: NewNowNext: Sculpture Created Using Blood Donations From Gay Men Protests FDA Policy

Out Magazine: Blood Mirror: Gay Artist Jordan Eagles Creates Sculpture to Protest FDA Blood Ban

Elite Daily: Gay Men Protest FDA Ban on Donating Blood with Powerful Piece of Art 

The Advocate:

Daily Beast: 

Bullett Magazine: Artist Jordan Eagles 'Blood Mirror' sculpture protests the FDA's Gay Blood Ban. 

Posture: Leo Herrera Discusses His Self-Defined Role as a Queer Artist

Reflections and Contradictions: five decades  

September 12 to October 18, 2015

Influential sculptor Mary Shaffer creates a site-specific glass and metal “tool-wall” installation for her solo-exhibition to feature her fascination with discarded tools. "I take lovingly crafted, hand-forged tools — the epitome of American inventiveness — to preserve and pay tribute to activities and methods of working that have disappeared from our modern lives," she says.

In addition, select glass work from the past five decades of Shaffer's active career will be shown, including her Light-Catcher series, which explores the way light and shadow create three dimensional form.

Mary Shaffer was an important influence in the early glass movement. Shaffer "brought art to glass and glass to art" as art critic John Perrault writes.  Doug Heller, a New York art dealer, says that the glass world was never the same after Shaffer burst upon the scene in the early 1970s. Shaffer invented a whole new way to work with and think about glass—a process she named "mid-air slumping.”

Shaffer has shown her work in 60 museums worldwide. The artist has been a professor at New York University and Wellesley College, and her work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of and as well as the Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, Japan, among many others.


Itinerant Edens: Of Fable and Facsimile

September 12 to October 18, 2015

A series of male figures derived from familial models are central to Walter McConnell’s installation Of Fable and Facsimile. Rendered in moist, unfired clay and sealed in terrarium-like plastic enclosures, McConnell’s earthen bodies appear fragile, apparitional — sustained momentarily in their fictional landscapes — positing impermanence as the inevitable condition of natural systems.

The figures in the installations are digitally scanned and prototyped from live models including the artist, his 83-year old father, and his nephew, representing three generations of male family members. A full body scanner housed in the School of Human Ecology at Cornell University, produces the files; prototyped models are CNC milled or 3D printed, plaster molds are made. The figures appearing in the installation are terracotta clays, cast and pulled from these molds.

Walter McConnell is best known for his moist clay installations housed in plastic enclosures that address the relationship between nature and culture. His work has been widely exhibited internationally and in venues across the U.S. including The Denver Art Museum, MassMoca, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


Pulse of the Future

September 12 to October 18, 2015

Contemporary Chinese Art captured the world's attention in the 1980s. Now the next generation is coming of age and staking its own claim for artistic precedence.


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Detail of It Had To Be You, Knodel

Gerhardt Knodel,
Detail of It Had To Be You: Genomia, 2015.
Courtesy of the Artist. Photography by PD Rearick.