Orange County Museum of Art commissions Sanford Biggers to create a monumental outdoor sculpture

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Orange County Museum of Art commissions Sanford Biggers to create a monumental outdoor sculpture
Rendering of Of many waters… (2022) by Sanford Biggers on the Sculpture Terrace of OCMA, opening to the public in October 2022. Credit: Morphosis.

COSTA MESA, CA.- The Orange County Museum of Art today announced plans to present a monumental outdoor sculpture by artist Sanford Biggers when the museum opens on October 8 at its new home on the campus of Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The 24-foot-wide 16-foot-tall multimedia sculpture, Of many waters…(2022), has been commissioned for the Sculpture Terrace of OCMA’s new building, designed by Morphosis under the direction of Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne and Partner-in-Charge Brandon Welling, and will remain on view through February 5, 2023. The artist will be honored at the museum’s Opening Gala on October 1, 2022.

Heidi Zuckerman, CEO and Director of OCMA, said: “I’ve been lucky enough to work with Sanford Biggers starting early on in his career, having curated his first museum solo exhibition, Psychic Windows, at the UC Berkley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in 2002, and I continue to admire his poignant work. Curating his large-scale sculpture to welcome visitors to OCMA’s stunning new space has been incredibly meaningful for me and I can’t wait to share his work with the public and to honor Sanford at the Gala to kick off our opening celebrations.”

Sanford Biggers said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be honored by OCMA this year, and excited to collaborate with the OCMA community in the unveiling of my latest monumental sculpture Of many waters… which combines my interest in classical sculpture and American quilt making.”

Of many waters…, is a site-responsive, interactive public artwork that will activate the open space of the museum’s upper terrace. The work depicts a form that combines an archetype of a European reclining male figure with a 19th-Century Baule double-face mask made from metal sequins. Biggers patchworks two distinct bodies of work—the artist’s ongoing Chimera and Shimmer series—into a new form that the artist considers “objects for a future ethnography,” encouraging historical objects to be studied, researched, and continuously reconsidered. In addition to the complex networks of historical references that course through this work, the artist traces connections to antiquity, non-Western cultures and traditions, including Buddhism’s sacred geometry.

The Opening Gala is chaired by Jennifer Segerstrom and co-chaired by Lisa Merage alongside the Gala Executive Committee and Gala Ambassador Committee members. The second annual gala held at the new site will have guests celebrating in style with a suggested dress of “Utopian Black Tie” and welcome back Master Sommelier Jay Fletcher and DJ Dylan Regan with catering this year provided by Untitled Events. OCMA’s Opening Gala is presented by lead sponsor South Coast Plaza. Cultured Magazine is the media partner.

Jennifer Segerstrom said: “We look forward to celebrating the highly anticipated opening of the new Orange County Museum of Art. Now in its 60th year, the opening represents a culmination of decades of unwavering commitment and will be a tremendous addition to the cultural landscape of Southern California and a renewed spotlight on Segerstrom Center for the Arts.”

This year’s gala will kick off a weeklong roster of events leading up to OCMA’s public opening in its new home. Proceeds from OCMA’s Opening Gala will benefit the museum at the time of its grand opening including funding innovative exhibitions, building on OCMA’s noted collection, and enabling educational programming. In 2021, the first annual gala at the new site, Art Sense, sold out and raised $1 million for the museum and its operations, significantly increasing past gala net revenue.

In addition to the installation of Biggers’ work, OCMA will open with the return of the California Biennial, an exploration of the richness of the state’s expansive and diverse creative communities. Fred Eversley: Reflecting Back (the World) will elaborate on a groundbreaking 1978 exhibition of his work at OCMA (then known as the Newport Harbor Art Museum), examining five decades of Eversley’s career and the technical innovation employed in his work with cast polyester resin, the crux of his practice. Peter Walker: Minimalist Landscape focuses on the work of the highly regarded landscape architect, most recognized for co-designing the National 9/11 Memorial and his history of collaboration with the Segerstrom Family since the 1970s and design for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. 13 Women will feature the work of female artists from the museum’s collection, curated by Heidi Zuckerman, to honor the 13 women who founded the Balboa Pavilion Gallery, OCMA’s predecessor institution, 60 years ago.

Sanford Biggers (b. 1970, Los Angeles, California, USA) is a conceptual artist based in New York City. Working across mediums and genres, he investigates themes of history, expression, humanity, identity, and freedom. His diverse practice positions him as a collaborator with the past through explorations of often over-looked cultural and political narratives from American History.

Codeswitch, a survey of his Codex series of mixed-media paintings and sculptures made with antique quilts was presented at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY (2020); the California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2021); and the Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY (2022). Through a commission from the Art Production Fund, Biggers presented a monumental bronze sculpture and multimedia public art installation across the Rockefeller Center site in New York City in 2021. He was included in seminal thematic exhibitions such as the Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2002) and Freestyle, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY (2001). His first solo museum exhibition was Psychic Windows at the Berkley Art Museum in 2002.

Biggers has been honored for his work with awards and fellowships including the 26th Heinz Award for the Arts; Savannah College of Art & Design’s deFINE Art Award; and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Professor and Scholar in the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA in 2021. In 2020, he was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship and appointed Board President at Sculpture Center, Long Island City, NY. Biggers was inducted into the New York Foundation for the Arts Hall of Fame in 2019 and received the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in 2018. Biggers’ work is held in the collections of numerous public institutions including the Studio Museum in Harlem, Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, NY; the Art Institute of Chicago and Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, IL; National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA.

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