Sarah Paul

Sarah Paul, Golden Balls, 2017, video still, Courtesy of the artist 

Mahwish Chishty

Mahwish Chishty, Hellfire, mixed-media on cardboard, 2016, 62 x 15 x15 in. Courtesy of the artist 

Lynda Benglis

Lynda Benglis, Untitled, 1979, plaster, bronze, wire mesh, gesso, lacquer, gold leaf, 21 x 6 in. x 3 3/4 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Gift of The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States, a joint initiative of the Trustees of the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection and the National Gallery of Art, with generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. 2009.30.3 

Sherry Simms

Sherry Simms, Compact Cameo Lipstick, 2003, plated copper, silver, hair, lipstick, 3 1/4 x 6 x 1/2 in. (pendant only), 3 1/4 x 21 x 1/2 in. (with necklace), Courtesy of the artist

Lorna Simpson

Lorna Simpson, III, 1994, Redwood, felt, clay, bronze, rubber, and waterless lithography, 2 1/8 x 5 3/8 x 13 5/8 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Gift of Mitchell D. Kahan 

Mary Jo Bole

Mary Jo Bole, Goodbye Victorians, 2008, cast iron, chrome, nickel plating, 25 x 30 in. Courtesy of the artist 

Peter Neff, Jr.

Peter Neff, Jr., Untitled [Two girls], 1856-1860, Melainotype (tintype) with applied color and gold, 2 1/2 x 1 7/8 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Purchased with funds donated in memory of Gladys E. McVicker. 2000.39 

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama, Chair, 1962, enamel on chair and sewn and stuffed cloth pouches, 42 x 27 x 33 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Gift of Wilbur J. Markstrom in honor of Rice A. Hershey, Jr. 1998.27 

Heavy Metal

August 12, 2017 - February 18, 2018
Judith Bear Isroff Gallery

It highlights what is so wonderful about the Akron Art Museum and their curatorial staff: the willingness to explore and to take a risk in what they choose to exhibit. — Anderson Turner, "Akron Art Museum polishes up 'Heavy Metal,'" Akron Beacon Journal


Metal is ubiquitous. We wear it, dwell inside structures built of it, and cook and eat with it. The development of civilization itself depended on our ancestors’ ability to craft metal tools and weapons, paving the way for advancements in agriculture, warfare, transportation and architecture. This substance, whether in pure element, alloy or compound form, has served as a mother lode of ideas and materials for artists for centuries.

Heavy Metal features artworks made of metal or materials disguised to resemble metal, as well as images of or about lustrous chemical elements. Exhibition artists exploit the key properties of their metal or metal-like materials, such as strength, ductility and plasticity, to develop innovative forms and imagery. Keenly aware of the connotations of their chosen medium, these artists address topics including race and gender equality, commerce, personal narrative and the proliferation of warfare, among others. Sometimes weighty, other times lighthearted, the themes expressed in Heavy Metal are articulated both through abstraction and realistic representation.

Heavy Metal is organized by the Akron Art Museum and supported by funding from the Ohio Arts Council.

Ohio Arts Council Logo

Related Links:

[ Anderson Turner, "Art review: Akron Art Museum polishes up ‘Heavy Metal’," Akron Beacon Journal ] [ Marie Elium, "Akron Art Museum Goes for the Gold (and Other Metals)," Northeast Ohio Boomer and Beyond ]

Gallery Talk by Emily Sullivan Smith

February 1, 2018, 6:30 pm

Connect with artists featured in Heavy Metal at these artist-led gallery talks. Discover how each artist works and what inspires them. 

Gallery Talk by Emily Sullivan Smith

February 1, 2018, 6:30 pm

Free and Open to All

Connect with artists featured in Heavy Metal at these artist-led gallery talks. Discover how each artist works and what inspires them. Meet in the gallery at 6:30 pm for these free dialogues.

image:  Emily Sullivan Smith, Thousands and Thousands, 2015, Scales, lacquer, gold leafing, wire, tulle, Two 12 x 12 in. panels, courtesy of the aritst. Photography by Shane Wynn

Gallery Talk by Kathy Buszkiewicz

January 4, 2018, 6:30 pm

Connect with artists featured in Heavy Metal at these free, artist-led gallery talks. Discover how each artist works and what inspires them.  

Gallery Talk by Kathy Buszkiewicz

January 4, 2018, 6:30 pm

Free and Open to All

Connect with artists featured in Heavy Metal at these artist-led gallery talks. Discover how each artist works and what inspires them. Meet in the gallery at 6:30 pm for these free dialogues.

Share this event on Facebook.

image:  Kathy Buszkiewicz, Double Dutch: Skip the Rhetoric, 2016, United States currency, wood, 24K yellow gold 46 x 8 x 1.5 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Upcoming Heavy Metal gallery talks:

Thursday, January 18 • Sherry Simms 
Thursday, February 1 • Emily Sullivan Smith

Gallery Talk by Sherry Simms

January 18, 2018, 6:30 pm

Connect with artists featured in Heavy Metal at these free, artist-led gallery talks. Discover how each artist works and what inspires them. 

Gallery Talk by Sherry Simms

January 18, 2018, 6:30 pm

Free and Open to All

Connect with artists featured in Heavy Metal at these artist-led gallery talks. Discover how each artist works and what inspires them. Meet in the gallery at 6:30 pm for these free dialogues.

image:  Sherry Simms, 1009 Roses, 2001, pendant, Nickel-plated copper, copper and enamel paint, 4 x 3 in. Full length of necklace: 29 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Upcoming Heavy Metal gallery talks:

Thursday, February 1 • Emily Sullivan Smith 

Book Club: The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner

February 15, 2018, 6:00 pm

Join us in the Martha Stecher Reed Library for a lively discussion of Rachel Kushner’s award winning novel The Flamethrowers. Followed by a staff-led tour of Heavy Metal.

Book Club: The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner

February 15, 2018, 6:00 pm

Grab a beer, cup of coffee or glass of wine in the café and join museum staffers in the Martha Stecher Reed Library for a lively discussion of Rachel Kushner’s award winning novel The Flamethrowers and a staff led tour of the exhibition Heavy Metal.

The year is 1975 and Reno has come to New York intent on turning her fascination with motorcycles and speed into art. Her arrival coincides with an explosion of activity in the art world—artists have colonized a deserted and industrial SoHo, are staging actions in the East Village, and are blurring the line between life and art. Reno begins an affair with the son of a motorcycle magnate. Her relationship takes her to Italy where she falls in with a radical political group.

Book Club is made possible with support from the Bemis Company Foundation. 

Personal Memberships

Museum members get free admission, discounts at the Museum Store, invitations to member events and more!
Learn more >

Browse the Collection

We will continually unveil new objects so be sure to keep checking back to make new discoveries.
View Galleries >