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Tampa Museum of Art opens 'White Gold: Thomas Sayre'
Thomas Sayre (American, b. 1950). White Gold, 2016-2017. Mixed media, dimensions variable. © 2017 Thomas Sayre / Clearscapes.

TAMPA, FLA.- The Tampa Museum of Art announces the opening of the new exhibition White Gold: Thomas Sayre, on view in the Farish Family Gallery through July 26, 2020.

White Gold is an immersive installation by artist Thomas Sayre (American, b. 1950) that depicts a cotton-filled Southern landscape. The work intends to express the beauty, the complexity, and the tragedy of our embroiled agricultural traditions. Cotton is one of the nation’s most contentious and layered materials, and one with which almost every American has a personal relationship, either directly or indirectly. Inevitably, it is linked to the economic, racial, and social history of the region and its people. Sayre’s White Gold refers to cotton and a reverence for the land, the labor, and the people (forced or unforced) who made cotton their livelihood. The installation is a fierce expression of the Southern landscape: its magnificence and the haunting pain of history, memory, and ultimately, belonging.

Thomas Sayre stated, “White Gold began many years ago when I was in college. I was attending one of the first “fiddler’s conventions” in central North Carolina. I vividly remember in the early morning hours venturing out into the adjacent fields into the rows and felt compelled to drop to the ground, face up, looking at the stars. I listened to the night sounds and felt the adjacent barns guarding the land. I wondered whose footsteps had come before me on the clay-filled soil. I wanted to embrace the furrows, the dirt, and the plants that you could almost hear growing that early Spring. I experienced a profound sense of rough beauty which pulled me in while at the same time my mind struggled with the stories about our southern landscape which so often cry of decay, loss, tragedy, and sometimes violence. White Gold came from that seminal experience. I am hoping the viewer will similarly feel enveloped by the breadth of our beautiful, rich, and haunted landscape.”

“White Gold: Thomas Sayre presents a thoughtful mediation of the Southern landscape,” said Joanna Robotham, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. “The ethereal quality of Sayre’s artwork prompts reflections of time, history, and place. We are pleased to share White Gold with our visitors and Sayre’s exploration of cotton as an American symbol of both desire and trauma.”

Thomas Sayre is a Raleigh, North Carolina, based artist who is best known for his large-scale earthcast sculptures. He has created public installations across the United States and around the world. Sayre’s work has been exhibited at the Fayetteville Museum of Art in Fayetteville, North Carolina, (1988 and 2002); and the Gregg Museum of Art and Design at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, (2009). Sayre’s commissioned public works are included in various collections across the United States with projects in Tampa, Florida; Denver, Colorado; Portland, Oregon; Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee; San Jose, California; Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona; Baltimore, Maryland; Washington D.C.; and Raleigh, North Carolina. Internationally, he has commissioned public projects in Istanbul, Turkey; Phuket, Thailand; Hong Kong; and Calgary and Ontario, Canada.

Thomas Sayre grew up in Washington, D.C. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Morehead Scholar, majoring in English and Studio Art. He graduated in 1973, summa cum laude. He was awarded a Michigan Fellowship with a three-year grant from the Ford Foundation to create sculpture at the University of Michigan. In 1975, he attended the Master of Fine Arts program at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Sayre received the North Carolina Award for Fine Arts and received an honorary doctorate from North Carolina State University in 2014. He currently resides in North Carolina with his wife, Joan-Ellen Deck. Together they have two daughters.

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