This spring, the Wexner Center for the Arts debuts Gray Matters, an ambitious survey of 37 contemporary women artists working in the shades of black, white, and gray.
Comprising nearly 50 works across a variety of media, Gray Matters presents an expanded, nontraditional view of working en grisaille, the historic practice largely associated with a highly male-gendered canon of old masters. This exhibition infiltrates that rarified territory by focusing exclusively on women artists who range widely in age, race, background, creative practice, and stature from emerging to established. Together, they reveal the vibrancy, as well as the expressive power, in the spectrum between and including black and white.
Bethany Collins presents two works that consider the impact of the written word by obscuring sourced, often racially charged texts with black boxes and blind embossing. Race and representation fuel additional contributions by artists such as Marlene Dumas, Lorna Simpson, Mickalene Thomas, and Kara Walker.
Material possibilities are pushed to extremes by such artists as Tacita Dean, Roni Horn, Toba Khedoori, Arlene Shechet, and Rachel Whiteread. For example, shifting from mirrors to lenses depending on the viewer’s perspective, the two substantial glass units of Horn’s Opposites of White (2006–07) suggest the passage of time within a fixed physical state. And Rubin’s wall-mounted work, entitled Drawing (2005), is actually a massive sculpture made entirely of graphite on paper that radiates the artist’s intense and energetic process, yet belies the primary material of its making.
Gray Matters includes a new tondo painting by Chicago-based Michelle Grabner that continues her interest in pattern (and its undoing), along with site-specific installations by Joyce Pensato, Xaviera Simmons, and Carmen Winant, a Columbus-based artist whose recent photomontages of found images celebrate women in the many roles they fulfill, whether assumed or assigned.
Gray Matters investigates the achromatic spectrum as an intersection between observation and thought; between seeing and knowing. It proffers the idea that black, white, and the gamut between is less a formal restraint than a fertile ground ripe with possibility.
Gray Matters is the first exhibition organized by Michael Goodson since he assumed the role of Senior Curator of Exhibitions at the Wex, and the survey enriches a calendar year of programming in which every artist featured in the galleries is a woman.
A free gallery guide with an essay by Michael Goodson and entries on each artist featured in Gray Matters accompanies the exhibition.