Race, time, memory, and meaning are among the concepts explored in this exhibition of works from 2003–2014 by the artist Fred Wilson. Through glass works designed and fabricated in Murano and the Seattle area, as well as in paintings, sculpture, prints, and video, Wilson challenges assumptions about history, culture, and display practices, offering alternative interpretations and encouraging viewers to reconsider how they think and what they know. A 1999 recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s “genius” grant, Wilson is well-known for re-animating museum collections through his unorthodox installations, as he has done presently in the Allen Memorial Art Museum’s King Sculpture Court. In the Ellen Johnson Gallery, works created by him similarly ask visitors to think deeply about embedded assumptions.
Wilson represented the United States at the Venice Biennale in 2003, working there with traditional glassmakers to make black versions of 18th-century forms such as chandeliers and mirrors, highlighting the color in relation to race and mourning. His earlier experimentation with glass in 2001 in Seattle led to the black drips also seen here. The flag paintings, marked by an absence of color, ask visitors to think about nationhood and representation, while his sculptures call into question received historical narratives.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.