From October 11 through December 21, 2018, the Museum of Contemporary Photography
at Columbia College Chicago presents The Many Hats of Ralph Arnold: Art, Identity & Politics. During the tumultuous 1960s and 70s, the prolific artist Ralph Arnold made photocollages that appropriated and commented upon mass media portrayals of gender, sexuality, race and politics. Arnolds complex visual arrangements of photography, painting and text were built upon his own multilayered identity as a black, gay veteran and prominent member of Chicagos art community, hence the title for the exhibition, which is drawn from one of the artists more personal pieces. Arnold participated in some of the eras most provocative exhibitions yet by the mid-1980s he increasingly focused on his teaching and service to the art community.
This exhibition brings together Arnolds most significant contributions to the art of collage, including a recently rediscovered triptych made for the 1968 MCA Chicago exhibition, Violence in Recent American Art. It also includes work by contemporaries and colleagues like Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Paschke, and Barbara Jones-Hogu to add further context and enrich our understanding of Arnolds legacy.
A companion exhibition, titled Echoes: Reframing Collage, also at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, examines the parallels between Arnolds work and 21st-century photocollage artists like Krista Franklin, Wardell Milan, Ayanah Moor, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, and Xaviera Simmons.
A publication featuring essays by curators and scholars accompanies the exhibitions. Contributors include curator Greg Foster-Rice, Associate Professor of History of Photography, Columbia College Chicago; Karen Irvine, MoCP Deputy Director and Chief Curator; Jacqueline Francis, Associate Professor of Art History, California College of Arts; Aaron Cohen, independent scholar; Keith Morrison, Associate Professor of Art, Temple University; Timothy Stewart-Winter, Associate Professor of History, Rutgers University; Rebecca Zorach, Professor of Art History, Northwestern University; and Sheridan Tucker Anderson, MoCP Curatorial Fellow for Diversity in the Arts.
The Many Hats of Ralph Arnold: Art, Identity & Politics is part of Art Design Chicago, an exploration of Chicagos art and design legacy, an initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art with presenting partner The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.