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Participatory and interactive works by artist and poet Alison Knowles come to Carnegie Museum of Art
Allison Knowles photographed at home – New York, NY – August 26, 2014, Photographed by Jason Bergman for Lucky Peach.

PITTSBURGH, PA.- Carnegie Museum of Art presents Alison Knowles, the first museum exhibition to consider the full breadth of the artist’s work across media. The exhibition, which is the 77th installment of the museum’s Forum series, features a focused selection of key pieces from the 1960s to the present, including interactive sculptures; sound-making objects; large works on paper, silk, and canvas; and a selection of the artist’s own collected ephemera.

Visitors to CMOA’s Forum Gallery can share in the artist’s experience through touchable, interactive works such as Bean Garden (1971/2016), a tactile encounter that creates a soundtrack for the gallery, as the rustling of dry beans underfoot are amplified throughout the space using microphones. The Boat Book (2014–2015), a large sculptural work consisting of eight-foot-tall moveable pages organized on a central spine, offers an immersive reading experience—an ode to the artist’s older brother who worked on fishing vessels in the Atlantic. A cabinet filled with found objects from Knowles’s own studio—a kind of “retrospective in a box”—also joins the installation. Facilitators in the gallery bring visitors closer to the show through engaging demonstration and conversation.

“Alison Knowles is best known for her performative works of the 1960s, in which she and other artists of her generation associated with the avant-garde group Fluxus expanded the boundaries of art, music, and poetry,” says exhibition curator Eric Crosby, The Richard Armstrong Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at CMOA. “With this show, we are casting equal light on her innovative printed work, collages, sounded objects, and sculptures. I hope the installation will draw museum visitors into Alison’s inquisitive way of looking at the world.”

Since the 1960s, Knowles has performed her “event scores” around the world, inviting audiences to take part in their fruition. During the exhibition’s May 19 opening event, the artist invites participation in her iconic Celebration Red (1962), in which hundreds of Pittsburghers will contribute to a temporary installation of found red objects in the Hall of Sculpture. Visitors may encounter performances of additional scores in the gallery space and beyond.

Born in New York City in 1933, Alison Knowles is a visual artist and poet admired for her sound works, prints, installations, performances, and publications. In the 1960s, she was a founding member of Fluxus, an international avant-garde group known for its performance events and widely distributed multiples. Notably, she compiled the book Notations (1969) with John Cage, an influential anthology of experimental music compositions, and she silkscreened Marcel Duchamp’s Coeur Volants (1968), his final printed work.

Over the course of her career, Knowles has consistently engaged the notion of the book, expanding our understanding of the form with small published objects such as Bean Rolls (1963), editions to be worn and performed such as Loose Pages (1983), and large-scale immersive volumes such as The Boat Book (2014–2015). Her much discussed event scores Make a Salad (1962) and The Identical Lunch (1969) have been performed at Tate Modern in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and many other venues worldwide. In addition to her many teaching engagements, Knowles has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship (1968), grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (1981 and 1985), a Lifetime Achievement Award from the College Art Association (2003), and honorary doctorates from Columbia College (2009) and Pratt Institute (2015).

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