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Krannert Art Museum opens solo exhibition by Nnenna Okore and thematic exhibition "Attachment"
For the installation at KAM, Okore will build on her recent investigations into the revelatory properties of burlap—a modest material that she frays,

CHAMPAIGN, IL.- Krannert Art Museum University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is opening an installation by Chicago artist Nnenna Okore, a thematic exploration of the concept of Attachment, and two other exhibitions this Thursday, Aug. 27.

Nkata: An Installation by Nnenna Okore will be the artist’s first exhibition at Krannert Art Museum. Okore has received international acclaim for installations in which she reconfigures organic or discarded materials into abstract, richly textured forms of extraordinary range and nuance. Born in Australia, Okore moved to southeastern Nigeria at a young age. She earned her BA from the University of Nigeria where she studied with acclaimed sculptor El Anatsui. At present, the artist is a professor of Art at Chicago’s North Park University, where she teaches sculpture.

“Okore is keenly sensitive to the rhythms and contours of everyday life,” comments Senior Curator Allyson Purpura. “The repetitive acts of stitching, twisting, rolling, or weaving; the familiar sounds of sweeping, chopping, talking, and washing, all deeply inform her aesthetic, as they signal both the transience of human labor and its inevitable mark on the material world.”

For the installation at KAM, Okore will build on her recent investigations into the revelatory properties of burlap—a modest material that she frays, dyes and transfigures into monumental, diaphanous forms that tumble and cascade from the gallery walls. The works are enhanced by the integration of a video projection into the installation that reflects Okore’s experiments with the sensorial and spatial translation of materiality into sound and light.

Purpura explains, “Okore’s enduring interest in the sound and metaphoric power of language inspires the installation’s title – Nkata – an Igbo word meaning ‘conversation’ and ‘basket.’ Both are containers of sorts, whether of meanings or things, and both take form, like Okore’s art, through the entanglement of fibers, voices and narrative strands.”

Also opening Aug. 27 is “Attachment,” a thematic exhibition that uses art largely from the museum’s collection to examine the concept of attachment. The works will encourage visitors to think about, among other things, the psychoanalytic elements of attachment to mother, comfort and childhood memories; physical attachments such as appendages; attachment to materials and material objects; and practices of collecting, from personal collections of objects to the collecting done by museums.

“I’m really interested to learn from viewers’ responses after seeing many different types of works from the permanent collection installed together. People will make all kinds of connections that we haven’t yet,” said Amy Powell, the curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Krannert Art Museum, and the lead curator of the exhibition along with Allyson Purpura and Kathryn Koca Polite.

The work on display includes a resin cast of a woman by Frank Gallo; images by Hans Bellmer, a German surrealist who made dolls of disparate parts in strange combinations and photographed them in ambiguous domestic settings; photos by Danny Lyon, a self-taught photojournalist who embedded himself with motorcycle gangs in the 1960s, documenting the lifestyle of the Chicago Outlaws; and vibrant, colorful video art by contemporary French artist Isabelle Cornaro.

“Attachment” also will include the museum’s collection of tiny 19th-century Japanese figurines, called “netsuke,” that would have been worn attached to a belt; and pre-Colombian spindle whorls – clay pieces that held spindles while thread was being woven.

Visitors will have an opportunity to view a sculpture by Louise Bourgeois; three pieces by Annette Lemieux; and two works by Melissa Pokorny, a professor of sculpture and the associate director of the U. of I. School of Art and Design, “Dead Objects” and “Left Behind.”

“Tamarind Institute and The Rebirth of Lithography,” also opening Thursday, spotlights a selection of the more than 500 Tamarind Institute lithographs contained in the museum’s permanent collection. The majority of the works on display are from the 1970s, produced at the Tamarind Institute during the directorship of June Wayne.

Exhibition curator Kathryn Koca Polite expects visitors to enjoy the playful surrealistic quality of works by W.P. Eberhard Eggers, the quiet, subtle beauty of Matsumi Kanemitsu’s “Za Zen (The Meditation),” and the technical skill and visual impact of lithographs by Kenneth Price.

She notes, “I selected artists who experimented with different styles – whether it was abstract expressionism, pop and funk art, cubism or others – so that gallery visitors could visually comprehend how lithography was employed by a wide range of artists.” This year marks the 55th anniversary of the Tamarind Institute, now housed at the University of New Mexico.

In addition to these offerings, the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will exhibit at the museum from August 28 through December 23. This is the primary opportunity for faculty members to showcase current creative practices of the excellent artists, designers, educators, and art historians who teach at the school.

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