Whether you’re interested in contemporary work rooted in social issues or retrospectives exploring a master of a medium, it’s likely one of these art exhibitions opening soon in Columbia galleries will speak to your soul.
From the Columbia Museum of Art’s exhibition of photographer Imogen Cunningham’s work – which also addresses her advocacy of photography as a legitimate art form – to paintings created in response to the 2015 Mother Emanuel church shooting at the S.C. State Museum, many of these exhibitions examine how society has changed during the past century and how it continues to evolve.
Here are a few to check out:
‘REQUIEM FOR MOTHER EMANUEL’ BY LEO TWIGGS
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When: Through Sunday, April 29.
Where: S.C. State Museum, 301 Gervais St.
On June 17, 2015, a gunman hoping to incite a racial war shot and killed nine churchgoers at Charleston’s historic Emanuel AME Church, which houses one of the South’s oldest AME congregations.
In the aftermath of the massacre, South Carolina artist Leo Twiggs created the nine batik works in this moving, thought-provoking exhibition. They “are perhaps the most compelling and poignant of his 60-year career,” a news release from the State Museum posits.
Accompanying the paintings are several items left by visitors in front of the church and a seven-minute video by Sailwind Pictures. The video features Twiggs explores the context and inspiration for his work.
Special events during the exhibition include:
▪ Circles of Dialogue, 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, Tuesday, March 20 and Tuesday, April 17. These facilitator-led discussion groups invite guests to share their reactions. Space is limited.
▪ Art Day: Honoring the World of Dr. Leo Twiggs, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 10. Twiggs will give a gallery talk, and a variety of programs will focus on the exhibition. Highlights of the day include musical performances related to the exhibition, South Carolina artists working throughout the museum and behind-the-scenes tours.
‘SEEN & UNSEEN: PHOTOGRAPHS BY IMOGEN CUNNINGHAM’
When: Friday, Feb. 2, through Sunday, April 29.
Where: Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main St.
Though a lesser-known luminary in photography, Imogen Cunningham changed the course of the genre, according to a news release from the Columbia Museum of Art, which is showcasing 60 of her photos, as well as camera equipment and archival materials as its major spring exhibition.
“The CMA has a tradition of exhibiting important female photographers. Take our recent exhibitions on Annie Leibowitz and Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe as well as the current Renée Cox show,” says executive director Della Watkins. “Imogen Cunningham led the way for these powerful artists.”
Born in 1883 in Portland, Oregon, Cunningham took up photography in 1901 in the early days of photography.
In the early 20th century, some photographers, Cunningham included, moved toward a form of photography that ceased to mimic painting for its legitimacy and embraced its potential to visually capture life’s fleeting moments. Already a recognized professional photographer by 1932, Cunningham and like-minded revolutionaries formed Group f.64 in California. The name, derived from the smallest aperture available on a large-format camera, implies images with the greatest depth of focus and sharpest detail. Proponents of unmanipulated images of clear forms, their goal was to produce photographs that utilized the full technical capabilities of the camera and were contact printed without enlargement or retouching. Though short-lived, disbanding in 1935, the group’s work had lasting implications.
“Imogen Cunningham is among a group of pioneers who understood that what the artist selected to photograph, out of the infinite possibilities around her, was an artistic act,” says Will South, CMA’s chief curator. “She was absolutely instrumental in the struggle for the acceptance of photography as a legitimate art form.”
Free admission to this exhibition for Midlands-area college students with a valid student ID is made possible through funds provided by the Central Carolina Community Foundation.
Special events during the exhibition include:
▪ Sneak peek, 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, as part of First Thursday on Main. South will give an opening lecture at 7:30 p.m. A cash bar will be available.
▪ Gallery tours, 1 p.m. Saturdays throughout the exhibition.
‘SEEN AND HEARD’
When: Thursday, Feb. 1, through Thursday, Feb. 22.
Where: Tapp’s Arts Center, 1644 Main St.
The Women’s Right’s and Empowerment Network presents photography and portraiture by a diverse group of women and girls from across the Midlands region. This is the first exhibit in a series of eight unique gallery openings across the region featuring 80 pieces from 40 new, local artists who used photography to express the opportunities and barriers women and gender minorities face.
Organizers – Sowing Seeds into the Midlands, Every Black Girl, PASOS, Homeless No More, Girls Rock Columbia, The Hive Community Circle, WREN, and Indie Grits Lab – recruited the artists, who range in age from 12 to 50 years old.
Captions in English and Spanish and video interviews with the artists accompany the photos. Audience members may respond to the exhibit through a video storytelling booth.
Special events during the exhibit include:
▪ Opening night, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1: A free reception will offer light refreshments and an artist panel beginning at 6:30 p.m.
‘BOLD & BEAUTIFUL’ BY TARIQ MIX
When: Thursday, Feb. 15, through Saturday, March 31.
Where: City Art, 1224 Lincoln St.
Mix, who is originally from Durham, North Carolina, received his undergraduate degree from Howard University in Washington, where the strong African-American studies program impacted his painting. He found himself immersed in the culture and history of movements such as the Harlem Renaissance and jazz figures such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane.
He worked to create imagery evoking the smooth, laid-back rhythm of jazz, and most of Mix’s previous work has been set in a jazz club, with the majority focused on musicians.
Recently, however, Mix has adjusted his angle to focus on clubgoers: diners, dancers, romancers. The essence of jazz is still there, in the contouring lines of the figures and the movement evoked by them.
“My work dances with emotion across the canvas,” he said. “I create with bold colors, strong design and composition and lively characters.”
Special events during the exhibit include:
▪ Opening reception with the artist, 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15.
‘DUSTIN FARNSWORTH: THE DEVIL’S WORK’
When: Through Sunday, Feb. 25.
Where: 701 Center for Contemporary Art, 701 Whaley St.
701 CCA’s most recent artist in residence, Dustin Farnsworth, presents an exhibition of seven years’ worth of his sculptures, including new art created during his residency.
A Michigan native, Farnsworth lives in Montreal, Canada. He completed his 12-week residency at 701 CCA from October through December. Since receiving his undergraduate degree from Michigan’s Kendall College of Art and Design in 2010, Farnsworth’s work has appeared in over 50 exhibitions nationally.
Later this year, Farnsworth will be among four artists in a group exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery.
Often larger than life, Farnsworth’s socially conscious constructions are engrossing, captivating and surreal. Connected by a strong thread of craftsmanship, Farnsworth shows us that the devil is in the details.
His portraiture of today’s youth offers a critical portrayal of their worldly inheritance, engaging in visual rhetoric representing a generation in need of protection, empowerment, and change. He has been gaining recognition for his intricate sculptures, captivating audiences through a mastery of craft, material, and storytelling.
“I’ve been interviewing kids in the 8 to 14 range about their hopes and fears,” Farnsworth said. “So, I’m letting that determine the direction of the work. As my work progresses, it’s becoming less of what my thoughts are about being a youth and more centered on what’s actually happening.”
His work is not only growing in concept, but also in size. During his residency at 701 CCA, Farnsworth focused on a towering portrayal of a youth who particularly inspired him. This piece will be unveiled at the exhibition at 701 CCA.
‘T/HERE: A SOLO EXHIBITION BY ARTIST NAOMI J. FALK’
When: Through Thursday, Feb. 22.
Where: McMaster Gallery, 1615 Senate St.
Naomi J. Falk grew up in the wilds of Michigan and, from an early age, planned to be an archaeologist, a brain surgeon, a heart surgeon, a meteorologist, and travel the world with Jacques Cousteau. None of those worked out, but she did learn to scuba dive, studied sculpture and ceramics at Michigan State and Portland State Universities, and received an master’s degree in fine arts from Carnegie Mellon University. In fall 2016, Falk joined the School of Visual Art & Design at the University of South Carolina as an Assistant Professor of Sculpture.
In this solo exhibition, she asks: “What do we hold dear and worthy? We ask ourselves, do fences make good neighbors? Is the grass really greener on the other side? Exploring built and found landscapes, I consider how we define home and how we value personal space. What do we do to protect it? How do we navigate the world, and how do these experiences inform our perceptions? How do we hang on to memories, to places? How do we stem the tide?”