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New exhibition at Weatherspoon Art Museum highlights "hoops" in the South
Suzanne McClelland, Well Hung, 2004. WNBA jerseys, silk, plastic pearls, sequins, ribbon, fake fur, feather trim, rope, and WNBA duffle bag. Dimensions variable, approximately 8 × 12 ft. Courtesy of the artist and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago Photo credit: © Suzanne McClelland, photo courtesy of the artist.


GREENSBORO, NC.- From its storied invention in 1891 by Dr. James Naismith as a recreational activity for “incorrigible” youth, to its current multibillion-dollar industry today, basketball has uniquely captured America’s imagination—and stolen North Carolina’s heart.

Embedded in basketball’s history are many of the topics fueling current social concerns and contemporary art. Divisions between rural and urban cultures can be considered in the distinctions between the sport’s development in farming town gymnasiums and inner-city playgrounds. Increasing commercialization can be traced through its intersections with fashion, franchising, and pop music. Issues of racial equity reverberate through the NBA and NCAA. And, the advancement of women’s roles can likewise be considered through the early adaptation of rules for female athletes, the passing of Title IX, and the successes of the WNBA.

That game’s golden era of the late 1970s through the 1990s coincided with an explosion of the contemporary art market, and the sport’s celebrated players and signature orange ball appear in the work of many art world stars. That moment also corresponded with an artistic shift towards work that addresses so many of the social issues—race, gender, economics—that readily surface in basketball’s widespread popularity.

The game has distinct visual qualities that make it an apt subject for artists: unlike a baseball concealed in a glove or a football buried under a pileup, a basketball is readily seen, and the athletes wear relatively minimal uniforms on an indoor field where cameras easily capture their expressions as they soar towards elevated goals. To the Hoop explores these myriad facets of basketball’s intersection with contemporary art and culture and offers an opportunity to consider the world in which we live through the overlapping lenses of sport and art.

EXHIBITING ARTISTS: Gina Adams | Daniel Arsham | Bill Bamberger | Janet Biggs | Mark Bradford | Kendell Carter | André Leon Gray | David Hammons | David Hilliard | David Huffman | Brian Jungen | Jeff Koons | Esmaa Mohamoud | Suzanne McClelland | Maria Molteni | Paul Pfeiffer | Joyce Scott | Lorna Simpson | Victor Solomon | Hank Willis Thomas | Nari Ward

Organized by Dr. Emily Stamey, Curator of Exhibitions.






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