Solidary & Solitary artist commissions

last edited on Wed. December 19 2018

New work by Bethany Collins, Samuel Levi Jones, and Amanda Williams 

The Smart Museum commissioned three local artists to create new work as part of the Chicago presentation of Solidary & Solitary: The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection. Bethany Collins, Samuel Levi Jones, and Amanda Williams—who have all participated in Pamela Joyner and Alfred Giuffrida’s artist-in-residence program—enrich and expand the exhibition’s narrative.

The commissions will be on view January 29–May 19, 2019.  

Bethany Collins
Alabama-born, Chicago-based artist Bethany Collins fills the forty-foot wall in the Museum’s lobby with a blind embossed wallpaper comprised of official state flowers. Drawn to the language of flowers, or floriography, the artist investigated flower dictionaries that regained popularity in the nineteenth century and allowed for the sharing of hidden messages through bouquets. According to these dictionaries the state flower of Delaware relays the message “I am your captive,” while Louisiana’s state flower, the iris, says “I burn for you,” and the camellia of Alabama, “My destiny is in your hands.” Operating in a space between love, power, ownership, and nationhood, this largescale “talking bouquet” will, as the artist states, “memorialize moments of repeated violence throughout American history.”

Samuel Levi Jones
In a new body of work, Chicago- and Indianapolis-based artist Samuel Levi Jones calls into question the authoritative and institutional power certain objects and materials can hold. Through a labor-intensive practice Jones transforms law and medical books into new and arresting abstractions, physically stripping, stitching and pulverizing book covers and in the process unravelling symbols and systems of knowledge and power. 

Amanda Williams
A native of the South Side of Chicago, Amanda Williams’s practice navigates the space between art and architecture, often rendering visible the invisible structures that shape our daily life. For the Smart’s presentation of Solidary & Solitary, the artist examines the history and persistence of “redlining” in Chicago, the systematic denial of various services to neighborhoods and communities which is often racially motivated and “white flight” on the South Side, through an exploration in mapping.

These commissions are overseen by Alison Gass, Dana Feitler Director, and Jennifer Carty, Associate Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art.

Support for Bethany Collins’s commission has been provided by Lead Sponsor Barbara Fosco. Support for Amanda Williams’s commission has been provided by Lead Sponsor the Ziegler-Orloff Family Fund.

Solidary & Solitary: The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection is presented by The Helis Foundation and organized by The Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the Baltimore Museum of Art. Support for this exhibition has been provided by the Smart Museum’s Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry Fund and by Principal Sponsor Mary Smart and the Smart Family Foundation of New York. Additional support has been provided by the Museum’s SmartPartners.

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