Blaffer Art Museum opens first major museum survey of Jamal Cyrus

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Blaffer Art Museum opens first major museum survey of Jamal Cyrus
Jamal Cyrus, Major & Minor, 2014. Wood, steel, fabric, silk screen, tacks. Image courtesy of the artist and Inman Gallery, Houston.

HOUSTON, TX.- The Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston is presenting the first museum survey exhibition of celebrated Houston-born artist Jamal Cyrus (b.1973). The exhibition, titled The End of My Beginning, opened June 5, 2021 and runs until September 19, 2021. It is presented in partnership with Texas Southern University (TSU), which will open a sister exhibition, entitled Levels and Layers, featuring vernacular work from Houston's Third Ward, on June 18 at its University Museum. Cyrus is both an alumnus of UH and a professor at TSU, and his work will bring together the two major universities located in the Third Ward to co-present an exhibition for the first time.

As a singular artist, a former member of the pioneering collective Otabenga Jones & Associates, a current professor at TSU, the recipient of the 2017 BMW Art Journey Prize and the 2019 David C. Driskell Prize, an occasional curator, and steadfast mentor, Jamal Cyrus and his influence reverberate throughout his native Houston. And while he has participated in a number of nationally recognized exhibitions, Cyrus’s work has not yet had the platform to be comprehensively studied and celebrated on a national scale.

The End of My Beginning spans 15 formative years of Cyrus’s practice from 2005-2020, assembling over 50 artworks that include drawings, prints, paintings, and works on both paper and papyrus, as well as sculpture, textiles, and installation. At the University Museum at TSU, Cyrus will marry a selection of historical works from the University’s permanent collection with artwork being made in the community of Houston’s Third Ward. Cyrus, the Blaffer, and TSU will also orchestrate performances and community-driven events connecting both campuses.

This precedent-setting project is co-organized by Blaffer Art Museum Jane Dale Owen Director and Chief Curator Steven Matijcio, and Dr. Alvia Wardlaw, TSU Museum Director and Curator, distinguished professor, and one of the country’s leading experts on African American art.

After the Houston presentation, The End of My Beginning will travel to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in February 2022, and other venues to be announced. The show will be accompanied by a full-color catalog designed and published by Inventory Press, available in September 2021. This is the first monograph dedicated to the work of Jamal Cyrus, and it will feature essays by Ryan Dennis, Grace Deveney, Ciarán Finlayson, Jamillah James, Steven Matijcio, Ana Tuazon, and an interview conducted by Dr. Alvia Wardlaw.

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