Phoenix Art Museum presents two exhibitions of work by Arizona-based contemporary artists
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Phoenix Art Museum presents two exhibitions of work by Arizona-based contemporary artists
Square of the Week, 9/14 – 9/20, 2020, Beaverton, OR, Savannah Kay Gordon. Image courtesy: Savannah Kay Gordon.

PHOENIX, AZ.- Phoenix Art Museum presents Ann Morton: The Violet Protest and the 2019 Phoenix Art Museum Artists’ Grants Recipients Exhibition. The two exhibitions, which were previously postponed due to the Museum’s temporary closure necessitated by COVID-19, show works by the 2019 Arlene and Morton Scult Artist Award recipient, Ann Morton, and the 2019 Phoenix Art Museum Artists’ Grants recipients, Christina Gednalske, Danielle Hacche, Lena Klett, Nazafarin Lotfi, and Kimberly Lyle, who represent the Museum’s first all-women artists’ grants cohort. Featured installations, paintings, mixed-media works, and more will explore political divides in the United States, the power of collaboration, identity, memory and perception, and communication and technology.

“We are delighted to present these exhibitions featuring works by Arizona-based artists,” said Tim Rodgers, PhD, the Sybil Harrington Director and CEO of Phoenix Art Museum. “The Scult Artist Award and Artists’ Grants are two significant recognition opportunities for contemporary artists in Arizona, and they represent the Museum’s continued commitment to using its platform to support and amplify the work of emerging and established artists who are making a deep impact on our region’s art ecosystem.”

Each year, the Arlene and Morton Scult Artist Award recognizes a mid-career artist working in Arizona. Eligible candidates must demonstrate artistic excellence through their work, be actively engaged in making and exhibiting new work, demonstrate significant growth in their work over their careers, and have been residents of Arizona for a minimum of four consecutive years. A panel of highly qualified jurors, including curators and artists, select the recipient based on the work they are currently producing, in addition to pieces they have created in the past. The award includes a $5,000 prize and a solo exhibition at the Museum the following year.

The Phoenix Art Museum Artists’ Grants, by contrast, support emerging artists working in Arizona to foster the creation of contemporary art in the region. From a competitive pool of applicants who respond to an annual open call, Artists’ Grants recipients are selected by a jury of curators and artists. Up to five grants of $2,000 each are awarded to recipients, who then present work in a group exhibition at the Museum the following year. The Artists’ Grants were formerly known as the Contemporary Forum Artists’ Grants awards, named for a Museum support group that was active from 1982 through 2018.

The jury for both the 2019 Scult Artist Award and the 2019 Artists’ Grants was composed of Gilbert Vicario, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and the Selig Family Chief Curator of Phoenix Art Museum; Kate Green, Executive Director of Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson; Tyler Cann, Head of Exhibitions and Pizzuti Family Curator of Contemporary Art at Columbus Museum of Art; and artist Matt Magee, the 2017 Arlene and Morton Scult Artist Award recipient.

Phoenix Art Museum awarded the 2019 Scult Artist Award to Ann Morton, a Phoenix-based artist who works primarily in fiber art. According to her artist statement, Morton’s work exploits traditional fiber techniques as conceptual tools for aesthetic, social communication to examine a society of which we are all a part—as bystanders, participants, victims, and perpetrators. She creates artworks that reflect both her own handwork and that of interested community members through public interventions that seek to harness the power of making for social purpose and change. Previous public interventions orchestrated by Morton include ReThanks (2017) and the award-winning Ground Cover (2013).

Ann Morton: The Violet Protest at Phoenix Art Museum feature the artist’s latest collaborative art project, which seeks to unite makers of varying political ideologies and encourage bipartisan collaboration. In January 2020, Morton announced an open call to makers in the United States and Puerto Rico, asking them to submit 8” x 8” square textile units that use equal parts of red and blue material, symbolizing the union of opposing U.S. political ideologies. Morton has since received commitments from nearly 1,600 textile artists and makers from across all 50 states, as well as British Columbia and Alberta in Canada, who have pledged to commit more than 12,000 squares that Morton will use to construct her large-scale installation The Violet Protest. The work will feature red-and-blue textile squares stacked and configured into the letters “U” and “S,” with the red and blue blending to create the overall impression of the color violet. Squares are being displayed along gallery walls to ensure every contributing maker’s work is exhibited. Morton will continue to accept project submissions through August 1, 2021 and plans to add to the “U” and “S” stacks throughout the duration of the installation. After the Museum’s exhibition of The Violet Protest ends on September 5, 2021, Morton will then disassemble the work and send squares from the installation to each U.S. Senator and Representative, accompanied by a photo of the work and a letter calling for elected officials to come together, prioritize the representation of their diverse constituencies, and reject political divisiveness.

Also on view this spring, the 2019 Phoenix Art Museum Artists’ Grants Recipients Exhibition will feature works by emerging artists Christina Gednalske, Danielle Hacche, Lena Klett, Nazafarin Lotfi, and Kimberly Lyle, who comprise the Museum’s first all-women artists’ grants cohort. Gednalske’s artworks use video, writing, photography, painting, and performance to examine presence through the body, memory, and place, while Hacche’s geometric, hard-lined abstractions made of pastel and gouache emphasize materiality and a dedication to process. Klett’s drawings, sculptures, and videos explore how knowledge is formed through intuition, interaction, and observation, whereas Lyle’s interdisciplinary works probe humanity’s relationship to systems of communication, learning, and technology, effectively challenging the boundaries between languages, human and machine, past and present. Finally, dynamic works by Lotfi explore the forces of opposition, tension, and harmony and how they allow for possibility and growth.

“We are excited to share the poignant and dynamic works of these contemporary artists with our audiences,” said Gilbert Vicario, the Museum’s Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and the Selig Family Chief Curator. “Through various media, they are examining some of the formative issues of our time while demonstrating how collaborative artmaking and abstraction as a visual language provide the opportunity to contemplate and reframe our individual and collective realities.”

Ann Morton: The Violet Protest and the 2019 Phoenix Art Museum Artists’ Grants Recipients Exhibition is on view from March 10 through September 5, 2021 in the Marshall and Hendler galleries.

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