At the beginning of this year, Crystal Bridges in Arkansas opened up a contemporary branch of their museum called The Momentary, for visual, performing, and culinary arts.
The Momentary, which resides in a former 63,000 factory, debuted with its inaugural exhibition, “State of the Arts.” The exhibition was curated by Crystal Bridges curators Lauren Haynes, Alejo Benedetti, and Allison Glenn and features 61 artists and over 100 works from around the country. The curators held a mission to select artists not just diverse in background and medium, but in region and career.
Themes of the exhibition encompasses world-building: creating real and fictional spaces; sense of place: investigating ideas of home, family, immigration, and more; mapping: connections to and relationships with landscapes and power, and temporality: the concept of time and how we perceive it.“This exhibition is an opportunity to answer the question, what does art in America look like at this moment in time?” said Haynes in the press release. “Over the course of a year, our curatorial team met with artists and collectives and conducted studio visits to learn about artists who’ve been working for years, as well as artists at the beginning of their careers. We wanted themes and ideas to develop organically.”
The Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design is proud to have three members of our community included in a much anticipated exhibition of acclaim: Sculpture alumnus Paul Stephen Benjamin, Drawing & Painting Lecturer Jiha Moon, and former Welch Director Larry Walker. The museum recently announced new acquisitions by 28 of the artists featured in State of the Art and pieces by all three of our artists have been purchased as a part of this planned collection.
The following captions are descriptions of the acquired works, displayed on the museum’s site:
In his paintings, video installations, assemblage works, sculptures, and performances, Paul Stephen Benjamin explores the questions, “What is the color black?” and “If the color black had a sound, what would it sound like?” In Summer Breeze (2018), Benjamin combines clips of the singers Billie Holiday and Jill Scott singing part of Holiday’s iconic 1939 song “Strange Fruit,” a haunting tune about lynching and racism in the United States. This soundtrack accompanies images that Benjamin has sourced from the internet, including footage of a little girl on a swing.
In her work, Jiha Moon brings together a variety of images and symbols to explore the global movements of people and their cultures. Moon references both Eastern and Western art histories and elements of popular culture, mixing traditional artmaking materials like handmade Hanji paper with everyday items such as nail decals and hair extensions.
For over six decades, Larry Walker has created paintings, drawings, collages, and mixed media works intended to spark conversations about popular culture and current events. Here Walker pairs his signature shadowy figures he calls “wall spirits” with images of politicians, a Mars Attacks movie poster, found signs, newspaper, and magazine pages to raise questions about current US immigration policy and who is and is not allowed in the United States.
Like many museums in the country, The Momentary had to temporarily shutter its doors due to health and safety concerns, but a new, virtual reality walk through of the exhibition has made visiting the show easy. The virtual exhibition features audio recorded by the exhibition curators, providing information on the exhibition, art, and artists and a guided tour is available.