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New Orleans Museum of Art acquires major work by American artist Will Ryman
America provides an in-depth exploration into the history of the United States through a careful selection and arrangement of materials.

NEW ORLEANS, LA.- The New Orleans Museum of Art announced the acquisition of a major work of art, America, by artist Will Ryman. Made in 2013, America provides an in-depth exploration into the history of the United States through a careful selection and arrangement of materials.

“We are delighted to have this important work by Will Ryman for NOMA. Once again, Sydney and Walda Besthoff have made a significant acquisition possible,” said Susan M. Taylor, The Montine McDaniel Freeman Director. “Ryman’s work embodies the complexity of American history and provides a point of departure and discussion. It joins other important works in the collection and creates an opportunity for meaningful programming and curricular initiatives.”

Artist Will Ryman (born 1969 in New York) is renowned for his large-scale sculptures and public art installations. He was raised in New York City, and over the last twenty years has fostered his own successful art career. He is most widely known for The Roses, 38 vividly colored pink and red rose blossoms along the Park Avenue Mall in 2011, Icon which was featured in Regent’s Park, London as part of the Frieze 2011 sculpture park, and Bird, in New York’s Flatiron plaza in the spring of 2013.

Ryman’s ambitious sculpture America was inspired by the origins of capitalism within the scope of American history. The materials used in the cabin’s walls, trusses, roof, and fireplace provide a simulated “timeline” of the economies found within the United States. Arrowheads symbolize the economy of the indigenous peoples and their eventual warfare with the colonists. Shackles and chains make up the cabin’s foundation, alluding to the role of slavery in shaping the U.S. economy. The cabin structure is a direct reference to the boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln, a figure who emblematizes the struggle of the Civil War and the quest for America to redefine its identity.

The cabin also includes bullets collected from the Civil War and World War II, pills representing the pharmaceutical industry, railroad ties representing transportation, cotton representing textiles and slavery, corn representing agriculture, coal representing energy, soda tabs representing fast food, phone cords representing the telecommunications industry and keyboards, iPads and iPhones representing recent technology.

Inside the cabin, these materials are arranged in geometric, mosaic-like panels and coated in gold paint and resin. Visitors will be able to enter the cabin, walk on the glass floor, and view the materials underfoot. Glass barriers protect the materials on the cabin’s interior walls.

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