Tags for: Currents and Constellations
  • Magazine Article
  • Exhibitions

Currents and Constellations

Thematic groupings and permanent collection displays of Black art spark art historical conversations
Key Jo Lee, Director of Academic Affairs and Associate Curator of Special Projects
December 3, 2021

Currents and Constellations: Black Art in Focus puts art from the CMA’s permanent collection in conversation with a vanguard of emerging and mid-career Black artists, as each explores the fundaments of art making, embracing and challenging art history.

The connections between the artworks and the themes in this exhibition are best described both as currents, which are more predictable and easier to trace, and as constellations, which are less predictable and more difficult to follow. Intimate in scale, yet broad in scope, Currents and Constellations illuminates singular works created by Black artists working in the United States to broaden visitors’ sense of Black artistic production, to shed new light on some of the CMA’s other collection areas, and to provide an accessible window into complex art historical ideas.

In the focus gallery, five thematic groupings represent a multifaceted star, with each theme providing an accessible window into a complex idea. In Black Cartographies, each artwork uniquely maps Black experiences and histories. Turning Away and Turning Toward both engage the history of portraiture as artists address the stakes of inclusion in those histories. In Earthly Subjects, Celestial Forms, each artwork uses specific historical materials and iconography to transform the everyday into something sacred. And in Dark Matter(s), each work gestures toward the ineffability or ephemerality of Black life using complex formal devices.>

Then, to generate new conversations with other areas of the collection, works will be temporarily introduced in four “satellites” in the CMA’s permanent collection galleries, including American painting and sculpture, Abstract Expressionism, German Expressionism, and contemporary art.

Currents and Constellations includes works by Sanford Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Richard Hunt, Dawoud Bey, Lorna Simpson, Jack Whitten, Darius Steward, Kenturah Davis, Mario Moore, and Torkwase Dyson, among others—thus placing Black American art and artists at the center of a conversation about the relevance of art to life and the relevance of art history to contemporary artists.