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Weatherspoon Art Museum acquires significant artworks
El Anatsui (Ghanaian, born 1944), Paper and Gold, 2017. Pigment inkjet print with hand-cut edges, printed and hand-sculpted aluminum collage, and copper wire, edition 11/30, 20 x 20 x 1 in. Weatherspoon Art Museum; Museum purchase with funds from the Frances Stern Loewenstein Acquisition Endowment, 2017.

GREENSBORO, NC.- The Weatherspoon Art Museum at UNC Greensboro announced its recent acquisition of several important objects by artists working both today and earlier in the twentieth century. These new acquisitions expand the museum’s holdings of examples by female artists and artists of color, as well as satisfy its strategy of acquiring artworks featured in its exhibitions. Acquisitions include: Sanford Biggers, Paket, 2016; Xaviera Simmons, If We Believe in Theory #2, 2009; Donald Lipski, Untitled, from the series Ah! Roma!, 2000; Louise Fishman, Untitled, 2001; El Anatsui, Paper and Gold, 2017; George Segal, Fireside Chat, 1991; Beverly McIver, Oh, Happy Day, 2001; and David Humphrey, Hercules, 2009-2010.

“The Weatherspoon Art Museum enjoys a nationally known permanent collection of more than 6,200 works of art,” states Director Nancy Doll. “We are always pleased to share it through special exhibitions at the museum and through loans to museums of all sizes and scopes across the country and abroad. Its continued growth through gifts and purchases reinforces its depth and breadth.”

These acquisitions were made possible by gifts from private individuals and an artist foundation and through purchases with funds from museum endowments and the Benefactors Choice fund.

Sanford Biggers (American, born 1970), Paket, 2016. Antique Japanese futonji, silk, cotton, assorted textiles, acrylic, gold leaf, and polystyrene, 72 x 37 in. Weatherspoon Art Museum; Benefactors Choice Purchase, 2018.
Integrating visual media, music, and performance, recent Falk Visiting Artist Sanford Biggers creates works that intentionally complicate our understandings of history and culture. In this dynamic painting on antique Japanese futon cloth, Biggers densely layers imagery culled from such seemingly disparate sources as Buddhism, graffiti, and sacred geometry. Linked by themes of navigation, these symbols become meditations on past, present, and future wayfinding. They simultaneously recall stories of quilts being used as markers on the Underground Railroad and star charts utilized by astronomers. Biggers encourages the viewer to take nothing at face value, but rather to discover a breadth of metaphorical potential. At once visually beautiful and conceptually rich, Paket poses important questions about how history informs the present, what disparate belief systems hold in common, and how all people—regardless of context—try to make their way in a complicated world.

Sanford Biggers holds a BA from Morehouse College in Atlanta and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He currently serves as Assistant Professor at Columbia University in New York and was a recipient of last year’s Rome Prize.

Xaviera Simmons (American, born 1974), If We Believe in Theory #2, 2009. Chromogenic color print, 40 x 50 in. Weatherspoon Art Museum; Museum purchase with funds from the Judy Proctor Acquisition Endowment, the Louise D. and Herbert S. Falk Acquisition Endowment, the William D. Snider Acquisition Endowment, the Maud Gatewood Art Acquisition and Lecture Endowment, and the Robert C. Ketner Family Acquisition Endowment, 2018.
If We Believe in Theory #2 soon will be featured in the Weatherspoon’s upcoming exhibition Dread & Delight: Fairy Tales in an Anxious World. To create this series, the artist invited dozens of young children to don the same red hooded cape and hold the same basket against the same wooded backdrop. Invoking the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, she then asked each child to “show me where the wolf is.” Their individual stances, postures, and poses register as both familiar and unique—reminding us that fairy tales frequently present their characters as broadly sketched types onto which each reader can project his or her own individual imagination. In If We Believe in Theory #2, a young boy plays the role of the character on her way to grand-mother’s house. Simmons uses the image to question singular understandings of gender, ethnicity, and other markers of identity.

Simmons received a BFA from Bard College in 2004, after spending two years on a walking pilgrimage with Buddhist monks to retrace the Transatlantic slave trade. In 2005 she completed the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program while simultaneously completing an actor-training conservatory program with The Maggie Flanigan Studio. Since finishing these studies, she has exhibited her work across the United States, including solo shows at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Museum of Modern Art in New York, and Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. In the past two years, her work has been included in exhibitions at the MCA Chicago, ICA Boston, and Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco.

Donald Lipski (American, born 1947), Untitled, from the series Ah! Roma!, 2000. Glass, red liquid, and metal, 5 1/4 x 2 1/8 in. Weatherspoon Art Museum; Gift of Scott Morgan and Katy Allgeyer, 2018
Donald Lipski spent the year 2000 on a Rome Prize at The American Academy in Rome where he created a suite of works titled Ah! Roma! using local materials and the expertise of Murano glass legend Simone Cenedese. In this sculpture, Lipski repurposed Coke bottles, filling them with red liquid and attaching them with an intricate mesh. The resultant sculpture recalls medieval reliquary.

In addition to the Rome Prize, Lipski has won three National Endowment for the Arts grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Cranbrook's Distinguished Alumni Award. His work is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, The Menil Collection, and dozens of other museums.

Louise Fishman (American, born 1939), Untitled, 2001. Oil on paper, 30 x 22 ¼ in. Weatherspoon Art Museum; Museum purchase with funds from the Lynn Richardson Prickett Endowment and the Weatherspoon Guild Acquisition Endowment, 2017.
Throughout her prolific career, Louise Fishman has reconsidered the legacy of Abstract Expressionism, a style primarily thought of as male dominated. Untitled retains much of the gesture and energy of Fishman’s larger works on canvas. In it she stretched her grid almost beyond recognition and freed it from a strict minimalist icon to something more organic. The forms within the work take on the character of rudimentary letterforms—an interest of Fishman’s derived from her study of Hebrew characters and Chinese and Japanese calligraphy.

Last fall the Weatherspoon Art Museum was the only southern venue for the traveling exhibition, Louise Fishman: A Retrospective, the first museum survey of the painter’s work from 1967 to the present. The addition of Untitled adds to the collection another work by a female artist, represents a purchase from an exhibition, and complements the museum’s holdings of Abstract Expressionism (or those following its legacy).

El Anatsui (Ghanaian, born 1944), Paper and Gold, 2017. Pigment inkjet print with hand-cut edges, printed and hand-sculpted aluminum collage, and copper wire, edition 11/30, 20 x 20 x 1 in. Weatherspoon Art Museum; Museum purchase with funds from the Frances Stern Loewenstein Acquisition Endowment, 2017.
An internationally acclaimed artist, El Anatsui transforms simple materials into complex assemblages that create distinctive visual impact. The artist is well-known for his large-scale sculpture composed of thousands of folded and crumpled pieces of metal sourced from local alcohol recycling stations and bound together with copper wire. These intricate works are both luminous and weighty, meticulously fabricated yet malleable. Paper and Gold relates to those sculptures in both design and technique, if not scale.

Anatsui’s multiple is a combination of diverse and experimental printing processes and analog art forms. It is made of paper, printed and hand-sculpted aluminum, and copper wire. Letters weave in and out of its intricate pattern, evoking images in sacred illuminated manuscripts or contemporary fiber art.

El Anatsui has been the subject of numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world. His artwork has been acquired by many public institutions, including Akron Art Museum; British Museum, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Denver Art Museum; de Young Museum, San Francisco; Guggenheim Abu Dhabi; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. He was awarded in 2015 the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 56th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, among other prestigious commendations.

George Segal (American, 1924-2000), Fireside Chat, 1991. Plaster, wood, metal, acrylic paint, and radio, 108 x120 x 57 in. Weatherspoon Art Museum; Gift of The George and Helen Segal Foundation, Inc., 2017.
The George and Helen Segal Foundation was established in 2000 to promote the work of George Segal and to award grants that enable artists to pursue their own artistic endeavors. As part of its mission, the Foundation has donated to the Weatherspoon an ensemble sculpture by this important twentieth-century artist. The life-size sculpture served as a study for the bronze version that is located on the southwest edge of the Tidal Basin at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, DC. In Fireside Chat, a barefoot man sits on a wooden chair listening to a Crosley Companion radio that rests on a small wooden table. (The chair, table, and vintage radio are found rather than fabricated objects.) The work’s title and setting indicate that it is sometime during the Great Depression. The man leans forward with his hands clasped together as he eagerly absorbs President Roosevelt’s words of encouragement. Segal’s Fireside Chat thus serves both as a remembrance of this difficult period in American history and of the public’s confidence that President Roosevelt would lead the way towards greater prosperity.

Beverly McIver (American, born 1962), Oh, Happy Day, 2001. Oil on canvas, 52 x 48 in. Weatherspoon Art Museum; Gift of Douglas and Nicole Walla, 2017.
McIver's painting links a racist stereotyping (blackface) with clown make-up. Combining the personal with the political, the principal figure—her white-gloved hands splayed open seemingly in surprise or distress—signifies the artist, who attended clown school in her twenties. It is unclear if the blond-haired figure is a person or a doll, sharing a bassinette or pram with a Kermit the Frog doll. In this multi-layered narrative, McIver suggests that care and domesticity are hard won yet taxing constructs enacted and affirmed within the constraints and contradictions of a racialized social order.

Born in Greensboro, NC, McIver has received numerous grants and awards including the Anonymous Was A Woman Foundation grant, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship from Harvard University, a Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation award, a distinguished Alumni Award from Pennsylvania State University, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, and a Creative Capital grant. This past year, she was awarded a Rome Prize fellowship.

David Humphrey (American, born 1955), Hercules, 2009-2010. Acrylic on canvas, 52 x 36 in. Weatherspoon Art Museum; Gift of Seymour and Carol Cole Levin, 2017.
David Humphrey appropriates his images from sources found at flea markets, antique stores, and on the internet. His interpretations, however, take a lot of liberties with the originals. The artist may add characters or exaggerate and mutate elements, in addition to augmenting with abstract, painterly passages within the composition. His diverse painting techniques result in enigmatic and engrossing narratives.

David Humphrey received a BFA from Maryland Institute, College of Art in 1977 and MA from New York University in 1980. He has shown nationally and internationally and has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rome Prize among other awards. His work is found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Walker Art Center; Whitney Museum of American Art; and Yale University Art Gallery, among other institution

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