This is the latest edition of BA’s biweekly digest of Southern contemporary art news-in-brief. Submissions for items to be included in future editions may be sent to the editor.
ATLANTA—Clarence John Laughlin, dubbed the “Father of American Surrealism,” was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and is best known for his black and white photographs of the South. Ghosts Along The Mississippi: The Magic of The Old Houses of Louisiana, his best known work, was published in 1948 and contained lyrical images juxtaposing decadent plantation houses and the Louisiana landscape. According to the High Museum’s press release, “The exhibition explores Laughlin’s literary leanings in great depth by placing his photographs in relationship to Southern Gothic literature and other regional literary genres, which were widely popular in the 1940s. Strange Light also attests to Laughlin’s innovative approach and insight into photography’s development.” Following an acquisition in 2015, the High Museum is home to one of the largest holdings of Laughlin’s works, and some of these photographs will be on view in Atlanta for the very first time in this exhibition. Strange Light opens in Atlanta on May 11, 2019.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The many institutions and resources comprising the Smithsonian Institute managed to stay open during the partial government shutdown much longer than E-verify, the National Do Not Call list, or the Environmental Protection Agency—but eventually shuttered on January 3, 2019 when they could no longer fund operations. As of this week, the Smithsonian museums and the National Gallery of Art have reopened. The closure prevented visitors from seeing the final days of Rachel Whiteread’s retrospective at the National Gallery, and artists such as Sean Scully and Dawould Bey criticized the shutdown as their exhibitions were housed in closed institutions. Although the museums have returned to normal operations, the Washington Post stated that the partial government shutdown put the hotly anticipated exhibition by Venetian school painter Tintoretto set to open in March in jeopardy.
ATLANTA—After ten years of covering theatre, dance, classical music, and the visual arts in Atlanta, first as ArtsCriticATL and then ArtsATL.com, our colleagues have launched a rebrand as ArtsATL.org. Working with Atlanta-based design firm OUST and developer Inspry, the rebrand also includes a domain move from dot com to dot org, intended to more clearly emphasis the organization’s standing as a nonprofit.
CHICAGO—Two Southern artists have been awarded fellowships by the Chicago-based organization United States Artists. Quiltmaker Coulter Fussell and poet Rebecca Gayle Howell have each been awarded a $50,000 fellowship by the organization, which annually presents such fellowships to artists of all disciplines at every stage of their career. Coulter Fussell is a Georgia-born textile artist who now resides in Walter Valley, Mississippi, where she continues to work out of her studio, Yalorun Textiles. Lexington-based poet and Oxford American poetry editor Rebecca Gayle Howell’s recent publications include the collection American Purgatory, which was the winner of the 2016 Sexton Prize. Howell currently resides at the Hindman Settlement School in Knott County, Kentucky as the James Still Writer-in-Residence.
NEW ORLEANS—Xavier University of Louisiana has announced that the Helis Foundation has donated funds to support the development of a curatorial masters program.
Helis Foundation managing director Jessie Schott Haynes said, “People of color have been underrepresented in the field of curatorial practices and in museum fields in general. It has been demonstrated that increasing diversity among curators and preparators will generate new ideas, innovation, and engagement with art and serve audiences in a more authentic way.” Dr. Sarah Clunis, director of African American and Diaspora Studies, and art professor Ron Bechet will lead the development of the program.
NEW YORK—The survey, conducted with the Association of Art Museum Directors, the American Alliance of Museums, and the research organizations of Andrew W. Mellon and Ithaka S+R has published their findings on the diversity of museum staff nationwide. Lack of diversity in all positions within cultural institutions has been an acknowledged issue for years, and the survey provides concrete numbers on how successful diversity efforts have been. Women continue to make advances — the number of women on staff increased from 59% in 2015 to 61% in 2018, and women in leadership positions rose from 57% in 2015 to 62% in 2018. The representation of people of color has continued to lag behind the jumps made by their female peers. People of color in positions of power only increased by a single percentage point — from 12% to 13% — in the same time period, and men of color only hold 4% of leadership positions. The full report can be found here.
NEW YORK —In January, The Andy Warhol Foundation announced financial awards for exhibitions, programs, and curatorial efforts across the United States, Puerto Rico, and one international effort based in Beirut, Lebanon. “The foundation supports artist-centered organizations with a focus on practices that are experimental, under-recognized, and/or challenging in nature,” the announcement stated. Atlanta-based nonprofit and publication Art Papers will receive $100,000 over the next two years to support their programmatic work. Prospect.5 will receive $50,000 to “research, travel, and undertake coalition-building to develop and clarify a set of framing concepts and overall themes for the triennial.” Prospect. 5 will open in New Orleans in Fall 2020.