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Akron Art Museum presents the sometimes weighty, sometimes lighthearted Heavy Metal
Lorna Simpson, III, 1994, Redwood, felt, clay, bronze, rubber, and waterless lithography, 2 1/8 x 5 3/8 x 13 5/8 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Gift of Mitchell D. Kahan.

AKRON, OH.- Whether in pure element, alloy or compound form, metal has served as a mother lode of ideas and materials for artists for centuries. On Saturday, August 12 the Akron Art Museum presents contemporary approaches to all things metallic in Heavy Metal, which pairs internationally known artists such as Yayoi Kusama and Lorna Simpson with artists who live in the Northeast Ohio community. Artists in the exhibition utilize metal or materials that resemble it to explore topics that include race and gender equality, personal narratives, the proliferation of warfare and others. Sculpture, jewelry, video, printmaking, painting, metalpoint, assemblage, tintypes and daguerreotypes will be on display.

Associate Curator Theresa Bembnister said, “Metal is rich in cultural connotations. Regardless of whether they are using gold, copper, silver, iron or another metal, the artists in this exhibition are mindful of the meaning of their chosen materials. Some artists make statements regarding value by disguising cast-off or common everyday items, such as cardboard or clothing, to resemble precious metals.”

Artists whose work is featured in Heavy Metal include Yayoi Kusama, whose wildly popular Infinity Mirrors exhibition is currently traveling across the country, as well as Kent State University School of Art associate professor Mahwish Chishty, and University of Akron associate professor of art Sherry Simms. Additional artists on view in the exhibition include Lynda Benglis, Lorna Simpson, Dale Goode, Michelle Grabner, Sarah Paul, Corrie Slawson and others.

Sometimes weighty, other times lighthearted, the themes expressed in Heavy Metal are articulated both through abstraction and realistic representation. As a playful critique of the fashion and cosmetic industry, Simms created a necklace that presents a cast of her own mouth in lipstick. Kusama’s Chair, part of the Akron Art Museum’s collection, has not been on view for three years, and combines elements of domesticity—furniture, sewing—with surreal, metallic phallic protrusions. Dale Goode creates dazzling sculptures made from discarded clothing and pieces of wood coated with metallic auto paint, giving the work a lustrous sheen.

Heavy Metal will be on view at the Akron Art Museum through February 18, 2018.

Heavy Metal is organized by the Akron Art Museum and supported by funding from the Ohio Arts Council.

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