This September, Miami Art Museum
presents Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks, the first major solo exhibition for Johnson, a preeminent artist of his generation. Johnsons practice encompasses photography, sculpture, painting and video and explores diverse questions relating to the self, identity, metaphysics and art, rooted in his individual experience. On view September 7 to November 4, 2012, the exhibition includes more than a decade of Johnsons work with an emphasis on major works from the last five years.
"Rashid Johnsons unusual vocabulary of materials and innovative mixing of diverse forms and cultural references makes him one of the most vital and interesting artists working today," said Tobias Ostrander, MAM chief curator and deputy director. "Johnsons work has been supported for many years by our collecting community and we are thrilled to present his first museum exhibition in South Florida."
Throughout his work, Johnson evokes shared memories by referencing icons and figures from American and African-American culture. The exhibition fosters a dialogue by inviting viewers' free associations with familiar figures -- such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Sun Ra, Miles Davis, and Public Enemy -- and everyday objects that appear in Johnsons work, including plants, mirrors, rugs, record albums, CB radios, shea butter and books.
Johnsons conceptually loaded and visually compelling works also allude to alchemy and transformation though his materials and play with the significance and symbolism of different media. His work creates a sense of wonder in the unknown and allows the viewers to draw their own meaning from his works. The exhibition also presents examples from ongoing bodies of work such as Cosmic Slops, abstract paintings made with melted black soap and wax; The New Negro Escapist Social and Athletic Club, portraits of members of a fictional black bourgeois secret society; recent "shelf sculptures" featuring found objects, such as The Shuttle (2010) and Triple Consciousness (2009); and early photographs made using the nineteenth-century Van Dyke Brown printing process.
Johnson was born in Chicago in 1977 and currently lives in New York. He has a BA in photography from Columbia College and attended graduate school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work is in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, Whitney Museum of American Art, Seattle Art Museum, Brooklyn Museum of Art, and Detroit Institute of Art. His work has been featured in major group exhibitions including 30 Americans: The Rubell Collection (2008); Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self at the International Center of Photography (2003); and Freestyle at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2001); and in 2011 was featured at the International Pavilion of the 54th Venice Biennale. He is one of the nominees for the Guggenheims 2012 Hugo Boss Prize, and the winner of the 2012 High Museums David C. Driskell prize that honors excellence in African-American art and scholarship.