State of the Art: Constructs

by Jeff Katzin, PhD, Associate Curator

State of the Art: Constructs installation in progress.

State of the Art: Constructs exhibition at the Akron Art Museum brings together the work of twenty-one artists from across the United States who collectively embody the present moment in contemporary art. Their works address momentous topics that are deeply embedded in daily life, from sweeping global and environmental issues to the intricate complexities of personal identity, as well as some of the specific places and relationships in between.

A special highlight of the exhibition is its inclusion of two live performances taking place in the galleries. One will be led by Jody Kuehner, in her drag-inspired alter ego Cherdonna Shinatra. By the artist’s description, “Cherdonna takes what you recognize about dance, what you believe about drag, what intrigues you about improvisation, and what delights you about entertainment, effortlessly tosses it in a mason jar, shakes it up, and opens the lid.” Together with her dance company, DONNA, Cherdonna balances tragedy and comedy. She cries, she laughs, and she clowns around—all in exaggerated style—to draw attention to her queerness, feminism, and what Kuehner has called the “existential dread” of contemporary times.

Another performance will be organized by Joanna Keane Lopez, who has built an adobe and clay sculpture right in the gallery. The sculpture realizes the New Mexican architectural concept of the resolana—the sunny, south-facing side of a building where people gather together. In keeping with this tradition, Lopez invites performers from the Western United States to activate the structure while it is on display. The artist hopes that these performances blend indoors with outdoors, private with public, and individuals with communities, “ultimately creating a space of unity, connection, and diversity.”

Kuehner’s performances take place January 19 to 21, while Lopez’s are scheduled for February 16 to 18. Check the calendar on the Museum’s website for more details as they become available.

State of the Art: Constructs is organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. The exhibition’s national tour is sponsored by Bank of America with generous support from Art Bridges, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Lehner Family Foundation, John P. Murphy Foundation, Mary and Dr. George L. Demetros Charitable Trust, Kenneth L. Calhoun Charitable Trust, and Hilton Garden Inn – Akron.