THE STEM, THE FLOWER, THE ROOT, THE SEED
Image: Nyeema Morgan, Soft Power, Hard Margins (1964), 2020
In THE STEM. THE FLOWER. THE ROOT. THE SEED., Chicago-based artist Nyeema Morgan poetically reflects on the articulation of 21st-century dichotomies of gender and power: objectivity and subjectivity, agency and powerlessness, offense and defense. Through sculpture, drawing, and other media, Morgan traces femininity as a complex process of categorization and identification—constantly affected by sexual, cultural, and political pressures.
Anchoring the exhibition of mixed-media works is a sculptural installation of the same name: an arrangement of cast arms and hands of various self-identifying women, emerging from the gallery walls. The surfaces of the figures are unfinished, raw, exposed, unadorned, non-illusory. Their materiality makes visible a process of becoming in both a literal and figurative sense. Each sculpture holds upright, in an ambiguous gesture, a wooden rod covered with layers of seemingly bare newsprint printed, faintly, with references to fables, mythological stories, and allegorical tales about women. A gesture of aggression? A surrender? An offering perhaps?
In her 2010 essay “A Thing Like You and Me,” German filmmaker Hito Steyerl explains how, in our consumerist media age, the “hero’s immortality no longer originates in the strength to survive all possible ordeals, but from its ability to be xeroxed, recycled, and reincarnated.” This idea of perseverance through image representation and reproduction, especially in an age where we serve as both author and subject of culture, contextualizes the exhibition within a larger discourse on (re)production, self-representation, and the power of narrative.
This is the second of three exhibitions presented by BMoCA in 2020 to commemorate the centennial of women being guaranteed the right to vote in the United States. BMoCA will exhibit work by three contemporary women artists who reflect on the complexities of being a woman in our democracy today. A hundred years have passed since the vote was won, and the relation between gender and equality is still being negotiated daily. What does it mean to have a vote? To be a body? To use your voice?
About the artist
Nyeema Morgan is a Chicago based interdisciplinary artist. Through her art practice Morgan reflects on personal and cultural economies of knowledge through familiar artifacts. Her works are inspired by philosophical conflicts presented in our everyday encounters with images, objects and information. Morgan’s conceptually layered works ranging from large-scale drawings to sculptural installation and print based media, raise questions about how we articulate and construct meaning within a complex system of socio-political relations.
Morgan earned her BFA from the Cooper Union School of Art and MFA from California College of the Arts. Solo and two person exhibitions include: Marlborough Contemporary, New York City, NY; Grant Wahlquist Gallery, Portland, ME, The Bindery Projects, St Paul, MN; and Art in General, New York City, NY. Group exhibitions include: The Drawing Center, New York City, NY; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York City, NY; CSS Bard Gallery, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; Galerie Jean Roche Dard, Paris, France; and the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME. Her awards and residencies include: Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Program, Shandanken: Storm King residency, a Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors grant, and an Art Matters Foundation grant. Her works have been reviewed and featured in The New York Times, Time Out NY, Wall Street Journal, and Art Forum.
Thank you to BMoCA's generous sponsors:
Scintilla Foundation, Luff Family Fund, City of Boulder, Boulder Arts Commission, Boulder Human Relations Commission, Scientific & Cultural Facilities District, Colorado Creative Industries, and National Endowment for the Arts.
Photos courtesy of Wes Magya
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