Posts tagged ‘Art History’

The Americas Gallery gets a facelift — and the Museum gets an Interim Curator!

Lekha Hileman Waitoller, who wrote the post below about our newly revamped Americas Gallery, has been the Curatorial Assistant here at the ASU Art  Museum since 2008. Today we’re happy to announce that Lekha has agreed to serve as Interim Curator at the Museum until the end of 2011. Lekha received her Masters in Art History and Theory from ASU this spring, with a thesis titled “Destabilizing the Archive: Steven Yazzie, Lorna Simpson and the Counter-Archive.” She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism (with an emphasis on Photography) and one in Spanish from the University of Missouri.

Do come see the Americas Gallery, and, if you get here before August 27, you can also see Self-Referential: Art Looking at Art, an exhibition of works from the permanent collection that Lekha curated.


One of the great things about living in the desert in summer is that things slow down. Most of us find ourselves pulled in fewer directions and better able to hunker down and chip away at our long to-do lists.

For some time now the curatorial staff at the ASU Art Museum has been talking about how to make changes to the Americas Gallery—the gallery dedicated to works from the collection, including historic gems like our Georgia O’Keefe, David Alfaro Siquieros and Edward Hopper, (include hyperlinks that I have provided) that would otherwise be less available to our visitors, since our focus is on contemporary art.

Years ago, much thought went into how to show these favorites. The resulting installation was an active salon-style installation of portraits called FACES, a chronology of WORK in the Americas and a selection of paintings that describe PLACE/SPACE.

This summer we gave the gallery a facelift—a major one. Keeping with the original themes, we re-thought the Faces comparison through figurative sculpture—historic and contemporary—highlighting the ways artists have selected particular media and styles to convey meaning. The installation is purposefully spare, inviting the viewer to make comparisons between the dissimilar works.

Alison Saar’s Hi Yella (1991), left, stands in contrast to Hiram Powers’ George Washington (1849). Photo by Daniel Swadener.

Another major change is in the PLACE/SPACE installation, which loosely traces artistic styles describing both public and domestic spaces from the early 19th century through today. The earliest paintings look at landscape as a defining component of the United States’ national identity, while the most contemporary selections transition from Surrealist depictions to landscape demonstrating the collision of the personal and political.

Activating the gallery is a sculptural installation by the adventurous conceptual artist Dennis Oppenheim. The Last Dance plays on both PLACE/SPACE and figurative sculpture, as the work presents two figures suspended from the ceiling, comprised of nopal cacti. And play it does—animated by a fan motor, the figures “dance” to the tune of “Skokiaan.”

Dennis Oppenheim’s The Last Dance, 1994. Photo by Stu Mitnick.

We hope that you will enjoy what we’ve done with the Americas Gallery and that the powerful works on view will provoke questions and dialogue. Please let us know what you think!

Lekha Hileman Waitoller

Curatorial Assistant

August 24, 2011 at 6:26 pm 1 comment

Cleaning the meat wall (yes, that says “meat wall”)

Intern Aubree Jacobs tidies up Adriana Varejão’s Ruina de Charque-Quina.

The ASU Art Museum is known for having some powerful pieces of social commentary in its permanent collection; one example is Brazilian artist Adriana Varejão’s Ruina de Charque-Quina (Corner Jerked-Beef Ruin), 2003, a piece acquired by the Museum in 2006.

Sitting between the Museum’s front doors, this imposing piece — oil on wood and polyurethane, although it looks much heavier and more substantial than that, as if it had been ripped from the corner of a building covered in glazed tile — is a head turner. For one thing, it towers over visitors, even the tall ones. But even more remarkable is the red substance sandwiched between the tile surfaces. Where insulation might normally go, the space appears to have been packed with large slabs of raw meat.

Varejão’s intention is to show the underbelly of Brazil’s rich history, and to expose the dark truth behind the dazzling churches and ornate dwellings of that country’s colonial elite: The economy that made possible such wealth and extravagance rested on slavery. A text panel next to the work explains that it’s about the tension between social convention and what it glosses over, and that it references both violence and the body without actually showing either.

Aubree Jacobs, a senior double-majoring in Art History and Museum Studies, is the intern in the Museum’s registrar’s office . The other day, as part of her museum duties, Aubree was called upon to deploy skills that she probably didn’t learn in college. Armed with a small brush, white gloves and a special over-the-shoulder vacuum cleaner, Aubree meticulously cleaned the Varejão, particularly those places on the explosed edges of the wall that tend to gather dust. It must have looked a little strange to visitors, but it’s all part of a day’s work when you’re taking good care of the art that visitors come to see.

August 16, 2011 at 11:43 pm


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