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New Year, New Exhibits at AU Museum

Spring exhibits at AU include abstraction, photography, and a collaboration with the National Museum of Women in the Arts

Jae Ko, 流 (Flow), 2018. Recycled rolled paper, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist. Photo courtesy of Wavelength.

Opening January 29, the spring exhibitions at the AU Museum at the Katzen Arts Center feature Israeli art from our permanent collection, mid-Atlantic abstraction, photographic experimentation, a collaboration with the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and so much more. 

For the latest health and safety protocols, please visit the AU Museum's reopening page before planning your visit.

Positive Fragmentation: From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation

Organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts 
January 29-May 22, 2022

Nicola López, Urban Transformation #1, 2009; Etching, lithography, and woodcut with Mylar elements, ed. 8/12, 30 x 30 in.; Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer; Photo by Aaron Wessling Photography

Drawn from the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation, Positive Fragmentation includes more than 150 works by 21 contemporary artists who use fragmentation both stylistically and conceptually. Through their prints, they question the status quo and suggest new perspectives. For some, the result is enough: pulling apart images and ideas exposes what lies beneath or heralds the value of each part. Other artists assemble fragments to create a new whole defined by its components. This exhibition explores these creative approaches in the work of some of the most important contemporary artists. 

Artists in this exhibition fragment, and often reassemble, elements including shape, color, perspective, text, idea, or stereotype. Betye Saar and Wendy Red Star construct new meanings and iconographies through assemblage of repurposed imagery, while Lorna Simpson, Ellen Gallagher, and Jenny Holzer use fragmented text to reveal the limitations and power of language. Other artists, such as Louise Bourgeois and Wangechi Mutu, focus on the body, with works that respectively isolate body parts and combine them from disparate sources to probe assumptions about gender and race. Nicola López and Sarah Morris both use architecture, whose elements—beams, girders, sheathing, wiring—they distill and rearrange to emphasize the unseen social forces that support or destabilize our environments. 

Other artists in the exhibition are Polly Apfelbaum, Jennifer Bartlett, Christiane Baumgartner, Cecily Brown, Judy Chicago, Nicole Eisenman, Julie Mehretu, Judy Pfaff, Swoon, Barbara Takenaga, Mickalene Thomas, and Kara Walker. 

This exhibition is organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) and is made possible through the generous support of Jordan D. Schnitzer and The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundations and is presented in memory of Arlene Schnitzer in partnership with the American University Museum.

In Place of a Missing Place

Curated by Noam Segal  
January 29-April 8, 2022

Tal Shochat, Crazy Tree, 2005. Chromogenic color print, 43 11/16 × 43 11/16 in. The Donald Rothfeld Collection of Contemporary Israeli Art, 2013.11.9 

This exhibition of Israeli art from the AU Museum’s permanent collection will unpack landscape depictions in a range of media. It offers a historicized consideration of myth-making, forced migration, displacement, erasure, and trauma as showcased in the works of artists whose singular nationality envelops the entirety of land encompassing two nations—Palestine and Israel.  
Works include gifts of Nancy Berman and Alan Bloch and those drawn from the Rothfeld Collection of Contemporary Israeli Art. 

Gallery Talk: In Place of a Missing Place, March 14, 7 p.m. featuring curator Noam Segal. Register for the March 14 Gallery Talk. This event will be held virtually. Please register to receive updates.

Fields and Formations

A Group Exhibition Exploring Mid-Atlantic Abstraction
Organized by The Delaware Contemporary’s inaugural Curator-in-Residence Kristen Hileman 
January 29-May 22, 2022

Arden Bendler Browning, VR Painting 12, 2020. Flashe and acrylic on shaped panel, 40 x 50 in. Courtesy of the artist and Bridgette Mayer Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. Photo credit: Karen Mauch.

Fields and Formations brings together approximately 70 works by 12 distinguished women and non-binary artists from the Mid-Atlantic region who infuse abstract paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures with emotional and metaphorical content. The artists, who span five decades in age, share interests in luminous color, repeated forms, the power of materials, and the meditative aspects of making labor-intensive works. The exhibition celebrates artists who have developed a significant part of their careers in a region bounded by Philadelphia to the north and Washington, DC to the south. Many of these artists acknowledge the influence of Alma Thomas (1891-1978) and Anne Truitt (1921-2004), important but under-recognized women artists who were based in Washington and have too often been placed at the margins of the mid-20th-century Washington Color School of abstract field painters. At the same time, Fields and Formations demonstrates that the broader Mid-Atlantic area’s diverse contributions to the story of American abstraction continue to be vibrant and profound during the beginning decades of the 21st century.  

Featuring artists: Natessa Amin, Arden Bendler Browning, Carol Brown Goldberg, Alex Ebstein, Alexis Granwell, Jesse Harrod, Maren Hassinger, Jae Ko, Linling Lu, linn meyers, Maggie Michael, and Jo Smail. 

Gallery Talk: Fields and Formations, February 21, 7 p.m. with an artist panel, featuring curator Kristen Hileman. Register for the Feb 21 Gallery Talk. This event will be held virtually. Please register to receive updates. 

Paper Light

Works by Claudia Smigrod 
Curated by Wendy A. Grossman  
Presented by the Alper Initiative for Washington Art
January 29-May 22, 2022

Claudia Smigrod, Untitled from the series Conversations, 2019. Unique candescent print on silver gelatin paper, 20 x 16 in. Collection of the artist.

With her inventive darkroom experiments, DC artist Claudia Smigrod takes the cameraless photogram into new realms that defy easy categorization. Organic forms from nature and inorganic manmade objects are magically transformed into abstract, incandescent, and deceptively complex images that are visually mesmerizing and conceptually compelling. This exhibition brings together several serial projects in which the artist has been immersed over the past decade: Paper Light, Under Study, Paper Patterns, Time and Space, Conversations, Opacity/Translucency, Proof Print and Every Thing. 

Gallery Talk: Paper Light, February 17, 7 p.m. featuring the artist and curator Wendy Grossman. Register for the Feb 17 gallery talk. This event will be held virtually. Please register to receive updates.

Two Places on Earth

Works by Chan Chao 
January 29-May 22, 2022 
Presented by the AU Museum Project Space

Chan Chao, Araceli and Friend (Country of Origin : Spain), 2006. Archival pigment print, 36.5 x 29 in. Courtesy of the artist.

This photographic portrait series is based on the idea of open societies, interconnection, and the world’s contraction. It features global citizens and is meant to acknowledge how beautiful the concept of an open society can be, but not in a utopian sense. This five-year project consists of multinational UN peacekeepers in Cyprus along with multinational prisoners in Peru, incarcerated for smuggling cocaine out of Lima. Chao’s intention is to blur all lines that define cultural differences, emphasize each subject’s dignity, and make portraits with restraint and quiet tenor. He presents the subjects as individuals that viewers can relate to. 
Gallery Talk: Two Places on Earth, April 11, 7 p.m. featuring the artist. Register for the April 11 Gallery Talk. This event will be held virtually. Please register to receive updates.

The AU Museum hosts rotating exhibitions of contemporary art from around the globe and the Alper Initiative, a dedicated research and display space for the art history of Washington, DC. Located on American University’s main campus at the Katzen Arts Center.