On view at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center
Drawn from the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation, Positive Fragmentation includes more than 150 works by 21 contemporary artists who use fragmentation both stylistically and conceptually. Through their prints, they question the status quo and suggest new perspectives. For some, the result is enough: pulling apart images and ideas exposes what lies beneath or heralds the value of each part. Other artists assemble fragments to create a new whole defined by its components. This exhibition explores these creative approaches in the work of some of the most important contemporary artists.
Artists in this exhibition fragment, and often reassemble, elements including shape, color, perspective, text, idea, or stereotype. Betye Saar and Wendy Red Star construct new meanings and iconographies through assemblage of repurposed imagery, while Lorna Simpson, Ellen Gallagher, and Jenny Holzer use fragmented text to reveal the limitations and power of language. Other artists, such as Louise Bourgeois and Wangechi Mutu, focus on the body, with works that respectively isolate body parts and combine them from disparate sources to probe assumptions about gender and race. Nicola López and Sarah Morris both use architecture, whose elements—beams, girders, sheathing, wiring—they distill and rearrange to emphasize the unseen social forces that support or destabilize our environments.
Other artists in the exhibition are Polly Apfelbaum, Jennifer Bartlett, Christiane Baumgartner, Cecily Brown, Judy Chicago, Nicole Eisenman, Julie Mehretu, Judy Pfaff, Swoon, Barbara Takenaga, Mickalene Thomas, and Kara Walker.
Installation photos by Greg Staley; Courtesy of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the American University Museum