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Prop Master: An Installation by Juan Logan and Susan Harbage Page Through July 19 at the Gibbes Museum of Art

CHARLESTON, SC.- The special exhibition Prop Master: An Installation by Juan Logan and Susan Harbage Page is on view at the Gibbes Museum of Art through July 19, 2009. Beginning Wednesday, April 24, a video chronicling the making of Prop Master by Charleston filmmaker Nick Smith will be on display in the museum and on the museum’s website at

Prop Master: An Installation by Juan Logan and Susan Harbage Page is a site-specific, large-scale installation created exclusively for the Gibbes. The exhibition draws materials from the museum’s permanent collection of portraits, landscape paintings, and archival materials, begun over 150 years ago. Artists Susan Harbage Page and Juan Logan juxtapose art objects drawn from the Gibbes’ collection and decorative art objects from local public and private collections, with works of their own creation, to investigate the role of the institution of the museum as both a prop master and a prop with regard to race, class, and gender relations in Charleston society.

As the person who acquires and manufactures props for theatrical productions, the prop master is responsible for all aspects of their use on a set. Drawing a comparison between the prop master and the museum and a production and an exhibition, Logan and Page reveal how the elements of a collection are props and the museum a prop master. Made up of such components as Sexually Ambiguous, Background Material, and Famous Last Names, the exhibition critiques portraiture as a prop and support for a structure of social positions.

“Juan and Susan were given free rein to mine the museum and we’re thrilled by the choices they have made in their effort to explore and interpret our collection,” noted Gibbes Executive Director Angela D. Mack.

Susan Harbage Page
Born in 1959 in Greenville, Ohio, Susan Harbage Page moved to Charlotte, North Carolina as a child. Being raised in the North and the South has informed her perspective and how her art addresses such concerns as the performance of race and gender, identity politics, and illegal immigration. The subjects and materials of Page’s large-scale photographs, altered textiles, videos, and installations are often associated with women and picture some of the complex intersections of politics, gender, race, and religion in the US, as well as Europe and the Middle East. As is evident in her photographs of subjects dressed in KKK robes sewn from contemporary fabrics, as in a figured toile, Page’s art explores how shared traumatic histories shape present-day social relations. She has shown nationally and internationally. Her art can be found in many public and private collections, including the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Birmingham Museum of Art, the High Museum of Art, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Israel Museum. Amongst Page’s numerous awards are fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council, the Camargo Foundation, and the Fulbright Program.

Juan Logan
Born in 1946 in Nashville, Tennessee, Juan Logan was raised in rural North Carolina. Although born in the South, Logan’s artworks address subjects relevant to the American experience as a whole. At once abstract and representational, his paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, and videos address the interconnections of race, place, and power. They visualize how hierarchical relations and social stereotypes shape individuals, institutions, and the material and mental landscapes of contemporary life. The silhouette of a head, adapted from caricatures of the “Mammy” and reshaped in the artist’s own image that appears in many of his works, implicate the viewer in the politics of social space, even in galleries and museums. Logan has shown extensively nationally and internationally and his works can be found in numerous collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the Zimmerli Museum, and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. Logan’s Foundation installation was featured in the Gibbes’ recent groundbreaking exhibition Landscape of Slavery: The Plantation in American Art.

Logan and Harbage Page are both faculty in the Department of Art at the University of North Carolina and live in Chapel Hill.

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