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Exhibition addresses issues of race, gender, equality, identity and power
Loren Munk. Institutional Blinding (study 4), 2016-17. Oil on linen 42 x 54 in. Courtesy of the artist. © Loren Munk.

CLINTON, NY.- The Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College is presenting the exhibition SUM Artists: Visual Diagrams & Systems-Based Explorations from February 15 through June 14, 2020, including 30 artists and artist collectives. The exhibition explores how artists working in a range of mediums approach the organization of information from the mundane to the absurd.

SUM Artists is curated by Matthew Deleget and Rossana Martínez, who work as visual artists, educators, and collaborative arts professionals. In 2003, they founded the innovative Brooklyn gallery MINUS SPACE, which presents a roster of international artists working within a reductive, often nonobjective, approach to artmaking.

"This exhibition is intended to be examined, dissected, questioned, and discussed," explain Deleget and Martínez. "The subject matter of the show is wide-ranging and particularly current, investigating persistent issues around gender, race, equity, money, power, politics, history, and culture. It also dives into more esoteric topics, such as transportation, psychopathy, criticism, spirituality, and much more."

SUM Artists features recent and historical artworks by artists working across a broad array of different mediums including painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, installation, and artist books, and who make work that investigates and visualizes the intersection of divergent subjects primarily through the creation of visionary, often fantastical, charts, maps, diagrams, and lists. The exhibition also presents a selection of rare, precedent books, among other archival materials on loan from the Hamilton College Library Special Collections, dating from the late 17th to the mid-20th centuries.

Artists include: Elisabetta Benassi, Vincent Como, Jennifer Dalton, Theo Deutinger, David Diao, Mary Beth Edelson, RYAN! Elizabeth Feddersen, Daniel Feral, Richard Garrison, the Guerrilla Girls, Alfred Jensen, Mike Mills & Experimental Jetset, Loren Munk, Eadweard Muybridge, John O’Connor, Wendy Red Star, Faith Ringgold, Leslie Roberts, Dread Scott, Ward Shelley, Batia Suter, Athena Tacha, Massimo Vignelli (with Joan Charysyn and Bob Noorda of Unimark International Corporation), and John Zinsser.

Explains Tracy Adler, the Johnson-Pote Director of the Wellin Museum of Art, “As a teaching museum on a college campus, we are incredibly excited about the multitude of opportunities the show presents, from its emphasis on books and the humanities, to its scientific references, to its political content. The works remind us how idiosyncratic the organization and presentation of facts are. With the process of creating a system, the assumption is that its content is empirically mined, when in reality, the raw data and resulting system remain interpretive. It points directly to this era of fake news, in that something that can appear truthful doesn’t necessarily mean that it is fact.”

Add Deleget and Martínez, "These artists exhibit a kind of truth in their work, but one that is run through their own experiential and emotional filter. Their works present a form of visual hypothesis, which is usually heavily researched, subjectively compiled, and pliable in intention."

Among the highlights of the exhibition are:

Mary Beth Edelson’s now legendary hand-colored lithograph Some Living American Women / Last Supper (1972), in which the artist collaged the faces of preeminent yet underrecognized female artists atop those of Jesus Christ and his apostles in Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic painting The Last Supper, thereby creating her own artistic pantheon.

David Diao’s Barnett Newman, The Paintings in Scale (1991), a painted inventory of the renowned Abstract Expressionist artist’s relatively modest output during his now celebrated career, charted according to the format, dimensions, and year the paintings were produced.

RYAN! Elizabeth Feddersen’s wall installation Kill the Indian, Save the Man (2017–present), which exhaustively maps the 19th- and 20th-century Indian boarding schools that were established in the U.S. to assimilate Native American children, with devastating, indelible cultural repercussions.

In today’s supercharged political climate, additional works of particular currency include:

Dread Scott’s silkscreened diptych #WhileBlack (2018), which features portions of two unending lists of social-media hashtags, one describing the hazards posed by racial discrimination (#DrivingWhileBlack, #GoingIntoYourBuildingWhileBlack) and the other offering more wishful aspirations (#WantingToKickOpenPrisonDoorsWhileBlack, #WantingToBeFreeWhileBlack).

Architect and designer Theo Deutinger’s chilling nonfiction publication Handbook of Tyranny (2018), which uses dozens of frighteningly graphic illustrations to show the relationship between structures of political and economic power and the systematic control of populations.

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