See the vibrant world between black and white. Join us for Gray Matters, a multifaceted survey of 37 contemporary women artists who have explored the practice of grisaille—the French term for working in shades of gray. Ranging from emerging to well-established, these artists challenge an all-too-simplistic notion of colorless “neutrality” as they reveal the variegated spectrum of black, white, gray, and everything in between.
In uniting nearly 50 remarkable works across media, Gray Matters provides a clarifying, focused lens through which to see the world afresh. You’ll encounter Roni Horn’s Opposites of White (2006/15), substantial glass sculptures that appear as pools of water—at once transparent and reflective, both mirrors and lenses. An artist typically associated with vividly colorful portraits of black women, Mickalene Thomas narrows her palette for Hair Portrait #20 (2014)—without relinquishing her celebratory use of rhinestones. The immense, sculptural graphite drawings of Nancy Rubins radiate the abundant energy expended in their making while begging reconsideration of the pencil’s power. Featuring her signature veils of ink, Marlene Dumas’s Betrayal (1994) offers blurred, indeterminate portraits of children: a meditation on sameness and difference, and on how time affects one’s worldview. Julie Mehretu’s six-panel print Epigraph, Damascus (2016) constructs what she has described as “story maps of dislocation,” here providing a portrait of the war-torn Syrian city. Mary Reid Kelley’s arresting, award-winning video This is Offal (2015–16) contemplates mortality and abandonment through a dialogue between a deceased woman and her organs. And the earliest work in the exhibition, Vija Celmins’s 1964 painting Heater, sets the glowing red center of an electric space heater amid a field of deep grays—reminding us of the constant, ever-shifting dialogue between hot and cool, color and shadow.
Gray Matters is the first exhibition organized by Michael Goodson since he assumed the role of Senior Curator of Exhibitions at the Wex, and the survey enriches a calendar year of programming in which every artist featured in our galleries is a woman.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website