Arts and Humanities People and Community

Summer exhibitions at the Lowe Art Museum

Two new exhibitions opening on June 20 challenge stereotypes and examine political complexities
Ariane Littman, Wounded Land Trilogy: Sea of Death, 2010. Video, 9:20 minutes. Photo courtesy of the Artist and Tim Hollander.

At a time when politics and social injustices claim headlines, two new thought-provoking summer exhibitions at Miami’s oldest art museum will tackle these divisive topics in a way that will challenge visitors to reexamine cultural stereotypes.

“If our shows encourage people to reflect more thoughtfully on their own assumptions and presumptions and, perhaps, commit, even on a micro level, to exercising greater restraint, civility, and compassion, I will feel that the Lowe has done its job,” said Jill Deupi, Beaux Arts director and chief curator of the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami.

The new exhibitions at the Lowe—Billie Grace Lynn: A House Divided and Visions of Place: Complex Geographies in Contemporary Israeli Art—take a deeper look into society’s most salient issues. 

“Both of our summer exhibitions address 2019’s most pressing topics with a frankness, integrity, and equanimity that fills me with pride,” said Deupi. 

Billie Grace Lynn: A House Divided

Following artist Billie Grace Lynn’s “Hoodie Project” at the Whitten University Center last semester during Social Justice week, in her new exhibition, Billie Grace Lynn: A House Divided, Lynn continues the conversation on racism with a much larger and multi-faceted interactive installation. This exhibition is centered around a powerful 3-hour video documentary where she interviews African American, Muslim, Asian, Jewish, and white American students.

“What is clear to me after hearing their stories is how much pain and suffering has been inflicted on people of color. The insults are mundane daily events but like dripping water, have a corrosive power that is deeply disturbing,” said Lynn, an associate professor of sculpture in the Department of Art and Art History at the College of Arts and Sciences.

Visitors will be able to go inside the 26-foot-tall hoodie and have the opportunity to write their stories, names of those lost, or opinions on the white walls, she said.

1. BILLIE GRACE LYNN, Hoodie, 2019 Plastic mesh, steel tubing, rod, and cable 26’ x 12’ x 8’. Photo courtesy of the Artist.

“The hoodie is, of course, a metaphor not only for the Black Lives Matter movement but also for what is feared, and our projections of racism and stereotypes. So to go within this hoodie is to go inside these beliefs and this structural racism to question it and to challenge our position of privilege.”

Also in the exhibition is an 18 foot tall mirrored obelisk, modeled after the Washington Monument, which is on an articulated base so that it moves and is unstable.

“The obelisk reflects us and distorts us and the museum walls as it moves precariously. That our systems of government are under incredible strain is obvious, but we are becoming unstable as a country, as a result of distortions of truth and lack of justice for our citizens—especially people of color and immigrants.”

But as she learned through this journey, there is hope.

“I believe we are at a tipping point in this country and it's not clear whether or not we will come through intact,” Lynn said. “However, I believe in the power of people and in the power of love, so I hope the community will come together here and write down their stories, the facts, and the truth.”

Visions of Place: Complex Geographies in Contemporary Israeli Art

Images of the past, the Holocaust, landscapes, tourism, people, objects, celebrations, and diverse identities all combine to create a rich picture of the life, culture, and complexities in Israel.

That’s what two American curators found while on a trip to Israel, where they met with over 80 artists and curators and visited a host of galleries.

“We knew there was vibrant contemporary art in Israel because some of the small glimpses we get here in the U.S. Seeing Israel in the news every day, often in a negative light, didn’t seem like a fair representation of the country, so we did our research, traveled to Israel and decided to do a major exhibition of Israeli art,” said Martin Rosenberg, a professor of art history at Rutgers University–Camden, who co-curated the exhibit with J. Susan Isaacs, a professor of art history at Towson University.

“What we discovered was that these powerful works of art from such a diverse group of Israeli artists centralized around the theme of geography—the relationship to place—in its social, cultural, economic, religious, historical, political, and other forms needed to be shared with the world,” said Rosenberg.

Visions of Place: Complex Geographies in Contemporary Israeli Art, which has been traveling since 2015, features approximately 50 photographic, video, painted, and mixed media works by 32 Israeli artists and illuminates intertwining views of history, place, and identity in Israeli culture.

“One of the most gratifying aspects of this exhibition has been the public’s reaction, which has been almost uniformly positive and served as a revelation for most. Their prior views and knowledge of Israel were challenged and opened through connecting with the art in personal ways,” said Rosenberg.

“Art offers an opportunity for a transcendent experience and we’re really excited about sharing this exhibition with the Miami community, which is incredibly rich and diverse,” said Isaacs.

The exhibition was organized by the Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts and the Towson University Department of Art + Design, Art History, Art Education Galleries, and is toured by International Arts and Artists, Washington, D.C.

The opening reception for both exhibitions will take place on Thursday, June 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Lowe Art Museum. RSVP here. The Billie Grace Lynn: A House Divided exhibition will run from June 20 to September 15.  The Visions of Place: Complex Geographies in Contemporary Israeli Art exhibition will run from June 20 to August 4, 2019, with a gallery talk on Friday, June 21 at 11 a.m.