Past Exhibitions

Archive of past exhibitions presented chronologically below. Click on the drop-down arrow for more information about each exhibition. From 2022, click on the card to visit the exhibition page.


Innovators and Legends: Generations in Textiles and Fibers
karen Hampton, the model - face behind dots on fabric

Oct 13, 2013 to Dec 23, 2013

An exhibition that explores the emergence of fiber arts as a fine art and showcases the contemporary fine art textile and fabric movement with works by internationally celebrated masters, top North American artists, and promising newcomers.



Robert C. May Photography Endowment Lecture Series: Penelope Umbrico

sunset artworkOct 18, 2013 to Nov 10, 2013

Penelope Umbrico finds a communal portrait of humanity in images she appropriates from popular sources, whether they be photographs of sunsets posted on the internet or ads for broken televisions sets on Craigslist. She examines the notion of how photography exists in the digital age, making prints of ephemeral electronic images, culling samples, and then building them into installations of multiple images that offer a revealing snapshot of who we are. Some are displayed on walls, such as her Sunset Portraits, which documents the number of photographs of people posed in front of a setting sun that are posted on the photography-sharing website Flickr on any given day—as many as 9,623,557. Others, like her Cabinet projects, present a type of “cabinet of wonders.”

Robert C. May Endowment Photography Series: Carl Corey

man in spotlightNov 15, 2013 to Feb 2, 2014

Mid-westerner Carl Corey makes photographs in traditional documentary fashion, traveling through Wisconsin in his RV, and offering glimpses into the workings of small towns and the people who inhabit them. His work is both cogent and wryly affectionate. In Tavern League, he trained his sights on eating and drinking establishments that have long been essential to the social and cultural fabric of Wisconsin communities but are in danger of disappearing as times change. Tavern League led to his examination of the plight of other family-run businesses in a series called For Love and Money. An ongoing related body of work, Blue, honors the American worker, from factory floor to office desk.

Image credit: CARL COREY, Marty, Chippewa Club - Durand, Wisconsin, from the series Tavern League. Archival pigment print on cotton based photo paper. Courtesy of the Artist.
What Dreams May Come: Works on Paper from the Permanent Collection

etching of person and bull in backgroundDec 20, 2013 to Jul 27, 2014

Curated by Courtney Anich and Alisa Reynolds, UK art history graduate students and interns in the Art Museum's registration department, "What Dreams May Come" presents a selection of artwork depicting a range of subliminal subjects--from angelic dreams to violent nightmares, and everything in between. A wide variety of styles and media by international artists working in the late nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries are included.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, artists became especially fascinated with depicting the inner workings of the human mind. Inspired by Sigmund Freud's "An Interpretation of Dreams" (1899) and other theories and discoveries, Surrealist artists began to create worlds in which everyday reality is replaced with strange and mysterious interpretations of the subconscious. The appeal of this subject continues into the present day.

The title of the exhibition comes from one of Shakespeare's most famous soliloquies. The tragic hero Hamlet muses:

To die, to sleep--
To sleep--perchance to dream; ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.




Wide Angle: American Photographs

two people in a mirror dancingJan 26, 2014 to Apr 27, 2014

Wide Angle: American Photographs is an exploration of the Art Museum’s collection of more than 1,300 photographs. Organized by Museum Curator Janie Welker, it offers an opportunity to see this diverse group of work in the context of some of the major themes in twentieth- and twenty-first-century photography in this country. Among them are portraiture and the portrayal of gender; the transition from traditional photography to constructed landscapes and an examination of the manmade environment; and the conventions of documentary photography, street photography, and images manipulated for psychological effect.

Wide Angle: American Photographs was made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Image credit: ELLIOTT ERWITT, Valencia, Spain (Robert and Mary Frank Dancing), gelatin silver print, purchase: The Robert C. May Photography Fund
Robert C. May Photography Series: Catherine Opie

photo of sunset over oceanFeb 7, 2014 to Mar 9, 2014

Catherine Opie’s large seascapes on exhibition now through March 9 are from the series 12 Miles to the Horizon. Both meditative and visually stunning, they evoke color field painting as well as notions of the sublime in painting, in which nature provides an awe-inspiring spectacle that goes beyond mere beauty to provide a spiritual experience. At the same time, she plays with the notion of sunrise and sunset as photographic clichés.

Opie set interesting artistic restrictions on herself in this series, made while she traveled on a freighter from Busan, Korea, to Long Beach, California, at the invitation of the shipping company Hanjin. She photographed at sunrise and sunset daily, and made sure the horizon line perfectly transected the composition, helping to create a mood of balance and calm as well as a formal relationship between all the works. She also created her own artist’s log of the trip, designing and printing the paper in advance, and recording her thoughts, whether in the form of doodled drawings or writing.

Catherine Opie’s work has been exhibited extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan. In addition to her Guggenheim retrospective, Catherine Opie: American Photographer, her work has been featured in recent solo exhibitions organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Aldrich Museum in Connecticut.

Robert C. May Photography Endowment Lecture Series: Eugene Richards

close up of embrace with two peopleMar 14, 2014 to May 18, 2014

A conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, Eugene Richards joined VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) in 1968 and found himself working in a community service organization in eastern Arkansas. Running afoul of the Ku Klux Klan earned him a serious beating and numerous threats, but he left Arkansas with a series of haunting photographs of rural poverty that launched his career. For seventeen years, he traveled the world as a photojournalist for the agency Magnum and now focuses on his own projects. Intensely personal and deeply felt, his work also reflects a lifelong commitment to social activism, whether he is photographing the ravages of cocaine addiction, his first wife’s struggle with breast cancer, or the emotional aftermath of 9/11.

Image credit: EUGENE RICHARDS, Homecoming, 2005, silver print photograph ©Eugene Richards, All Rights Reserved
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection

sun over water landscape paintingMay 18, 2014 to Aug 17, 2014

An exciting exhibition featuring some of the twentieth century’s most prominent artists including Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Christo.

This exhibition is made possible by the Bluegrass Complex of Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Member SIPC.

Promotional partner is Thoroughbred Printing.

Take My Word For It

person with hand over earSep 6, 2014 to Dec 23, 2014

This exhibition brings together numerous text-based works, drawn primarily from the Museum’s permanent collection, which examine ways that artists use language to directly engage the viewer. Drawings, prints, and books by Clifford Amyx, Luis Camnitzer, Van Deren Coke, Wendy Ewald, Hans Haacke, Jenny Holzer, Susan E. King, Barbara Kruger, Les Levine, Kay Rosen, Edward Ruscha, Tad Savinar, Pat Steir, Catherine Wagner, Kara Walker, and others, offer a range of language that is meant to be looked at, as well as read. Hand drawn or printed, and combining various fonts and degrees of legibility, the artworks address a range of subjects and conditions, from poetics to politics.

image: BARBARA KRUGER  b. 1945, Untitled, from We Will No Longer Be Seen And Not Heardportfolio, photo-offset lithograph and serigraph
Prints for the People: Student Research on the WPA Collection

painting of city streetMar 23, 2014 to Jul 27, 2014

Prints for the People is the result of a project in the art history class "History of the Print in the Western Tradition," taught during the spring semester by Dr. Jane Peters and Bebe Lovejoy, focusing on the study of original prints in the Art Museum's collections.

Laurel Nakadate: Strangers and Relations

person playing guitar in spotlightSep 6, 2014 to Dec 23, 2014

As children, we are told not to talk to strangers and, as photographers, that we should avoid putting our subject right in the middle of the composition. Laurel Nakadate does both, and her art is that much better for it. In photographs, videos, and films, she has used the people who’ve crossed her path—through happenstance or contacts made via the internet and social media—to create images that are surprising, confrontational, and unsettling.

The works included in Strangers & Relations feature two distinct groups who are documented in similar ways. The “strangers” are part of Nakadate’s Star Portraits series and feature individuals she found by asking friends to invite people to meet her or by posting on Facebook and community message boards. Those who agreedto participate would be photographed under the night sky, having chosen their own clothing and props. Discussing these encounters, Nakadate states, “I think this feeling of standing alone in the middle of the night with strangers is a really intense and profound experience. We, as humans, forget that we were not always meant to be inside and in our homes watching CNN all day and night. When you throw yourself out of your comfort zone and put yourself in a place where you’re surrounded by nature and up against another human being at night, there’s going to be a profound feeling of belonging or perhaps alienation, and a longing for belonging or the desire to connect coming through.”1 The resulting works are a unique combination of flash and long exposure, and offer dramatic spot-lit figures who seem to have suddenly appeared in the landscape.

The “relatives” were found when Nakadate, whose paternal lineage is Japanese-American, took a DNA test in order to uncover data about her mother’s family history. She wrote to distant cousins and did genealogical research, and, as is often the case with her projects, she travelled extensively throughout the U.S. She visited thirty-one states in order to photograph her distant cousins and their children, figures who reflect a range of racial, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Her genealogical family includes the descendants of slaves and Mayflower pilgrims, the McCoy clan of the famous Hatfield/McCoy feud, and the early protestant feminist Anne Hutchinson.

Viewers will immediately notice that the artist’s portraits share formal and psychological qualities. The individuals represented all meet our gaze, asking to be considered extremely present at a unique location and moment in time. With these works, Nakadate is revealing something about humanness now and perhaps always—that (to borrow a line from John Lennon and Paul McCartney) “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.”2

1  October 10, 2012,
2  John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “I am the Walrus,” 1967, Comet Music Corp.

Kurt Vonnegut: Madmen and Moonbeams

silkscreen abstract artSep 6, 2014 to Dec 23, 2014

Novelist Kurt Vonnegut made drawings throughout his life, and, like writers and musicians including Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Norman Mailer, and Joni Mitchell, found that visual art offered him another outlet for creativity. This exhibition of silkscreen prints features portraits that are both comic and surreal, defined by bold lines and carefully placed areas of color. It was curated by art history graduate student Courtney Anich. The works were printed here in Lexington by Joe Petro III. 

image: KURT VONNEGUT, Tralfamadore #1,1996, silkscreen on paper, collection of The Art Museum at UK, gift of Margaret Eblen Layman


Edward Troye: Theme and Variation

horse in profileJan 24, 2015 to Apr 12, 2015

The restrictions of an art form can sometimes provide the most interesting variations. A series of lithographs reproducing Edward Troye’s celebrated nineteenth-century paintings of famous American Thoroughbreds is a case in point. The pose of the horses—intended to showcase desirable traits—doesn’t waver, establishing a visual rhythm of the equine bodies in the middle of each composition. But their unique profiles and subtle differences in proportion, musculature, color, and personality, as well as changes in the surrounding landscapes, create memorable portraits. Of course, the lithographs, already a step away from Troye’s paintings, are themselves multiple interpretations of distinct originals.

image :EDWARD TROYE, Kentucky, 1932, hand-colored lithograph with etching and engraving, collection of The Art Museum at UK
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh, Russell Maltz

stoneware hanging from pendantJan 24, 2015 to Apr 12, 2015

Exhibition Installation Video on Youtube

The three artists in this exhibition are dedicated studio practitioners, each operating between drawing, painting, and sculpture, and using strategies of theme and variation. Their works are often finalized at the gallery, where elements are variously stacked, clustered, and dispersed, exemplifying  a commitment to process as well as product. For Same Difference, Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh, and Russell Maltz present installations that take advantage of the Museum’s architecture, especially the wooden floor and soaring ceiling height. Raw and fired clay, plywood, metal studs, paint, and canvas are celebrated for their inherent materiality while being transformed into works that extend several art historical traditions including Suprematism, Constructivism, Minimalism, and Arte Povera.

Grabner’s abstract paintings are grounded in the real world, often taking their cues from handmade or store-bought blankets, tablecloths, and quilts. She mines vernacular traditions for geometric patterns and templates that she can use, extending the options from contemporary art-making while honoring the labor-intensive activities of everyday folk. Her recent paintings accumulate lines and shapes that are the result of pushing glossy enamel paint through crocheted baby blankets. Textured and illusionistic, these canvases have a homey elegance and spatial depth in keeping with the visual grammar of artists like Eva Hesse, Frank Stella, and Robert Ryman. Grabner is also an acclaimed curator and educator, and her status as a multitasker informs all of her activities.

Leigh’s works are known for their intense physicality, and she is adept at forming and firing ceramics that range from the ornamental to the ominous. She consistently investigates African and African American histories and the female body as a repository of lived experience.  At UK, she creates a gravel garden with “cowrie shell” sculptures that feature stunningly glazed surfaces with jagged openings. Leigh’s videos often claim women from popular culture, including Zira from Planet of the Apes and Lieutenant Uhura from Star Trek. Here, she presents a short clip from the 1960s-1970s television show Julia, featuring Diahann Carroll as a nurse. In combination, her hand-made objects and found footage create a meditation on identity, labor, and beauty.

Maltz uses a range of industrial materials as his palette, creating singular and multi-part works that alert audiences to the nature of creating—making choices about content, context, color, scale, density, gravity, and sequence. His recent paintings feature plywood sections that are covered in Day-Glo paint and overlaid on top of each other, then suspended from steel posts on the wall; referencing Kazimir Malevich’s infamous 1915 Black Square and continuing the evolution of the monochrome into the twenty-first century. Maltz’s manipulation of “off the shelf” items connects the world of the contractor with the ideas and aesthetics of the art world, examining complex states of entropy, assembly, and permanence. Same Difference is meant to highlight the aspects of consistency and mutability that each artist is known for, as well as making connections between their distinct productions.

image: SIMONE LEIGH, You Don’t Know Where Her Mouth Has Been, 2012, salt-fired porcelain and stoneware, The Kitchen, NYC
Lexington Tattoo Project

woman showing tattoo on bicepJan 24, 2015 to Apr 12, 2015

The Lexington Tattoo Project is a collaboration between artists Kremena Todorova and Kurt Gohde, and poet Bianca Spriggs, whose poem The ____of the Universe: A Love Story inspired numerous residents to have their bodies tattooed with suggestive fragments of text, punctuation marks, and small design elements. A celebration of pride and place, the project has been documented by a thoughtful website, video, and a hardcover book. Now for the first time, the photographs of participants are exhibited as a gallery exhibition, spreading across one large wall of the Museum, which acts as a gathering site for those interested in how flesh, love, and ideas can come together in risky and respectful ways.

image: KURT GOHDE & KREMENA TODOROVA, Lexington Tattoo Project, 2013, participant Kate Hadfield
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs

children jumping near broken wallJan 24, 2015 to Apr 12, 2015

Interview with Tanya Habjouqa

Tanya Habjouqa photographs focus on gender, social, and human rights issues in the Middle East. She approaches her subjects with sensitivity but also with an eye for the absurd. In 2014 she won a World Press Award for her series Occupied Pleasures in which she documents many of the ludicrous moments of everyday life that the 47-year occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem has created. One of her photographs from the series Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots was chosen by Time magazine as one of the top 100 photographs of 2014. She is a founding member of Rawiya, a collective of female photographers from across the Middle East. She has recently shown her work at several important venues including Photoquai, Paris; the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark; Modem Modern and Contemporary Arts Centre, Budapest, Hungary; and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

For more information about Habjouqa and the TANYA HABJOUQA: Recent Photographs exhibition, read this article by Ryan Filchak in Lexington's Under Main

image: TANYA HABBOUQA, Gaza Parkour Team,Outside Khan Younis Refugee camp, Gaza. © Tanya Habjouqa.
"(In the) Paint" with Craig Drennen

hello and basketball in paintFeb 11, 2015 to Feb 13, 2015

Acclaimed Atlanta-based artist Craig Drennen sets up a temporary studio in the Museum in order to complete a painting dedicated to basketball superstar and Hall of Famer Dan Issel. Drennen will slowly render an image of a floating basketball while a video of him spinning a ball on his finger plays on a nearby monitor. He will be located inside a taped-off area equal to the 3-second violation lane under the basket on an actual court.

For the past several years, Drennen has been making artworks that take their inspiration from Timon of Athens, the single play by William Shakespeare never performed during the writer's lifetime. Drennen has been working his way through the list of the play's characters, making paintings dedicated to each.

On Saturday, February 14 at noon, Drennen will discuss his paintings along with issues of skill acquisition, failure, abstraction, and realism.

On Saturday, February 28, the completed painting will be auctioned at the ART IN BLOOM GALA to benefit the Art Museum.

image: CRAIG DRENNEN, Hello 44 (in progress), oil, alkyd on canvas (two sections), 40 x 30", 2015
Vivian Maier: On the Street

Photo of woman holding camera and child May 9, 2015 to Jul 26, 2015

Vivian Maier, whose photographs have been favorably compared to those of masters like Helen Levitt and Robert Frank, has become as famous for the mysteries surrounding her life as for the strongly composed black-and-white images she made in New York and Chicago from the 1950s through the 1970s. She left behind a body of well over 100,000 negatives, but never exhibited a single photograph. She spent her life working as a nanny, evidently because it provided her with the freedom to roam the city—often with her young charges in tow—recording the life around her.

Like the best street photographers, Maier had an eye for nuances of gesture and attitude and for catching unfolding dramas large and small. Lovers, antagonists, the strange intimacy of public transport, and the secret lives of children are all captured in tightly composed, often wry, photographs. The upper middle-class children in her care remember magical field trips to pick wild strawberries or watch a Chinese New Year parade but also recall excursions to slums and stockyards in search of subject matter. Maier made numerous self-portraits, sharply examining herself in the reflection of mirrors and windows but also appearing as a shadow, an eternal observer, seeing but unseen.

Maier’s work was first unveiled by John Maloof, who purchased a cache of her negatives at an auction of abandoned property while searching for historic photographs of Chicago. Intrigued by their quality, he posted some images on Flickr in 2009, igniting a public fascination that has resulted in numerous articles, exhibitions, a handful of books, and a documentary movie. Maloof slowly pieced together the profile of an artist who was so secretive, she used aliases when having her film developed. The families with whom she lived had little idea of the seriousness of her work or the facts of her life.

Born in 1926 in New York, she was raised by her French mother, her Austrian father having exited the scene early. Mother and daughter resided with a successful portrait photographer for a time, possibly stimulating Maier’s early interest in the medium, and spent long periods in France. In 1951, she moved to New York, where she began her pattern of working as a nanny or housekeeper and roaming the streets, obsessively photographing. Five years later, she moved to Chicago, her home until her death in 2009. Maier had a keen interest in film, culture, and politics, and while there is no evidence she studied formally, it is clear from her work that she was quite familiar with the visual language of street photography of her time. Vivian Maier: On the Street, contains more than thirty photographs from the Maloof Collection.

image: VIVIAN MAIER, Untitled Self-Portrait, undated, gelatin silver photograph, ©Vivian Maier/Maloof Collection, courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York
Other Streets: Photographs from the Collection

man standing next to sign of whiskey bottleMay 9, 2015 to Jul 26, 2015

American street photography between the 1950s and ealy 1980s combined the observational skills of documentary work with the tightly composed aesthetic of modernism to create images that captured the look and feel of the times. Other Streets contextualizes the recently discovered work of Vivian Meier with exquisite examples by Van Deren Coke, Bruce Davidson, N. J. Jaffee, Robert C. May, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Garry Winogrand, and others.

These patient and intuitive image-makers observed men, women, and children in the flow of everyday urban life. Some created single, iconic images while others spent months, if not years, on a photographic project. Winogrand shot hundreds of frames for his Women are Beautiful series, several of which are included in this exhibition. Davidson spent two years in Spanish Harlem observing life on East 100th Street.

A prime example of such a long-term project was made closer to home when Coke and Meatyard—members of the Lexington Camera Club—set out in the 1950s to photograph the predominantly African American neighborhood of Georgetown Street. Meatyard carefully distinguished the kind of images they were making from documentary photography, which traditionally focused on disadvantaged populations. “We have only one story to tell,” he said, “and it is that these people are like you and me.”

image: VAN DEREN COKE, Untitled, 1965, gelatin silver print, collection of The Art Museum at UK
Chester Cornett: Beyond the Narrow Sky

Wooden chairMay 9, 2015 to Jul 26, 2015

With his mane of wild hair and beard, and uniform of overalls and work boots, Chester Cornett (1913-1981) seems to embody the common conception of the Appalachian craftsman: dedicated, naïve, and anti-intellectual. But Cornett was also a visionary, able to create impeccably crafted chairs that are steeped in tradition while pushing the form of a functional object into more sculptural conceits. In later years, after he had earned acclaim for his work, he designed chairs that reflected the personalities and desires of his clients and, despite constant financial need, he would not take orders without getting to know them first.

Cornett’s life was marked by financial and emotional poverty and lifelong bouts of depression. His parents separated when he was eight, and he bounced between family members in Letcher and Harlan counties in eastern Kentucky. By seventeen, he had achieved only a fourth-grade education. He was far better schooled in the knowledge of trees and the quality of the wood, but he learned the craft of furniture-making from an abusive uncle, who would sell Cornett’s work as his own. A stint in the army during the World War II added post-traumatic stress syndrome to childhood traumas. On top of that, by the time he returned from the war, traditional crafts were being replaced by cheaper, machine-made goods.

Through it all, Cornett remained obsessed with innovative chair design. In 1961, he made his first “two-in-one rocker” with a very wide seat, eight legs, and four rockers. One of his most inventive chairs belongs to the Museum. It was intended as a gift to President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated before it could be delivered. Now known as the Mayor’s Chair, it is sheathed in hickory bark splinting that is woven like a basket.
The armrests feature lidded containers, and a pull-out footrest slides in and out from beneath the seat. In 1973 Cornett made a chair of sassafras wood for Richard Nixon and was invited to the White House to formally present it to the president.

While enthusiasts like Wendell Berry collected and preserved Cornett’s chairs, the location of most of them is unknown. Matt Collinsworth, director of the Kentucky Folk Art Center, spent five years locating collectors and combing junk shops to track down close to forty pieces of Cornett’s furniture. Along with former KFAC artistic director Adrian Swain, he organized this exhibition, the first to seriously consider Cornett’s achievement as an artist. It illuminates the life and work of a complex man who aspired to be “king of the chairmakers.”

The project was made possible through a significant grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to the Kentucky Folk Art Center at Morehead State University.

image: CHESTER CORNETT, Mayor’s Chair, 1962-63, black walnut with hickory bark splints, collection of The Art Museum at UK
Wayne Koestenbaum: Unfamiliar Grammar, Paintings from 2010-2015

painting of face with 'I pose problems' in textSep 12, 2015 to Dec 20, 2015

An acclaimed author and educator, Wayne Koestenbaum has examined subjects including Andy Warhol, Jackie Onassis, Harpo Marx, opera, fashion, desire, and humiliation. In 2010, he took up the paintbrush, and, since then, has produced hundreds of canvases of male portraits and nudes, landscapes, and dense abstractions rife with meandering lines, riotous colors, and suggestive iconography. One work features a male head looking straight at the viewer with the phrase “I pose problems” written above. This may be true of Koestenbaum’s creative output in art and literature, but it must also be said that he offers outrageously complex and candid revelations about the self and society.

Without any formal training but spurred by his numerous friendships with visual artists and years as a contributing critic to many magazines, Koestenbaum’s painting investigations continue those of modernist forebears like André Derain, Henri Matisse, and Alice Neel.

image credit: WAYNE KOESTENBAUM, I Pose Problems, 2010, acrylic on canvas, courtesy of the artist
Robert C. May Photography Endowment Lecture Series: Nina Katchadourian

self portrait of woman with white collar and bonnetSep 12, 2015 to Dec 20, 2015

A profound spirit of invention distinguishes Nina Katchadourian’s work in photography, installation, video, and sound. She has exploited a diverse set of subjects and situations over the years: spider webs in the forest, the color of cars in parking lots, and the performance possibilities of books in libraries, to name a few. The artist often appears in her photographs, nimbly creating characters and props from her surroundings. In Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style, she ducks into airplane restrooms and improvises snowy headdresses and collars from toilet seat covers, neatly evoking seventeenth-century paintings.

Katchadourian’s work has been exhibited at art institutions including MoMA PS1, Serpentine Galleries, Saatchi Gallery, Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum, SculptureCenter, and Palais de Tokyo. She will be included in the 2015 Venice Biennale and is currently working with MoMA as part of their “Artists Experiment” program.

Image credit: NINA KATCHADOURIAN, Lavatory Self-Portrait in the Flemish Style #12, 2011, from “Seat Assignment,” 2010 and ongoing, courtesy of the artist and Catharine Clark gallery
Bottoms Up: A Sculpture Survey

colorful sculptureSep 12, 2015 to Dec 20, 2015

John Chamberlain once said, “The definition of sculpture is stance and attitude.” This wide-ranging exhibition presents numerous forms that have been carved, cast, or assembled. In varying scales and materials, they are situated on the floor or on pedestals, hung on the wall, or suspended from the ceiling, exemplifying Chamberlain’s notion of an object that possesses space in a dynamic way.

Artists, including John Ahearn, El Anatsui, Linda Benglis, Harry Bertoia, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Jean Baptiste Carpeaux, Willie Cole, Mark Di Suvero, Mel Edwards, Peter Forakis, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Joe Goode, Sol LeWitt, Jacques Lipchitz, Tony Matelli, Robert Morgan, Louise Nevelson, Ebony G. Patterson, Pablo Picasso, Frederico Pizzurro, Peter Reginato, Lucas Samaras, Arlene Shechet, Erika Verzutti, and Rachel Whiteread, have helped to clarify and complicate the ways that sculpture can give viewers a complex physical encounter. Their works utilize weight, mass, gravity, color, gesture, movement, sound, scale, abstraction, and representation.

Installed in the main gallery with its soaring ceiling height, the exhibition revels in the dialogue between specific objects: a Native American totem pole (1880-1910) is seen with Peter Forakis’s 1981 horizontal steel Rainbow II; Willie Cole’s Shoonufu Female Figure cast from high-heeled shoes and Tony Matelli’s insidious Weed #294 offer representations of human and plant shapes; and a functioning race car made by Lexington artist Federico Pizzurro for his son Mike is seen alongside Joe Goode’s Coke Bottles and Carton, both produced in the 1960s and celebrating aspects of American desire.

Special thanks to the James Albisetti Exhibition Fund for support of this exhibition. The exhibition catalogue was made possible by a generous contribution from the Breeders’ Cup.

Image credit: ALEXANDER CALDER, The Star, 1960, polychrome sheet metal and steel wire, collection of The Art Museum at UK
Sculptors on Paper

etching of human torsoSep 12, 2015 to Dec 20, 2015

Jim Dine fell in love with a collection of Greek and Roman sculpture he visited in 1987. The antique figures come to life in the etchings they inspired. Robert Rauschenberg found a stuffed angora goat in a second-hand store, famously put a tire around its middle, and stood it on a painting. Monogram, as he called it, became his first “combine.” It revolutionized the art world in 1959, but not before he worked out the composition in a series of sketches over several years. Claes Oldenburg found his muse in Mickey Mouse, creating huge sculptures and installations based on America’s favorite rodent. The fluid drawing in his lithograph of “M. Mouse” demonstrates how he reinvented a cartoon icon as a geometric abstraction.  

The work of these and other artists celebrated for their three-dimensional work are featured in Sculptors on Paper, which illuminates the ways that drawings and prints serve as preliminary or parallel means for sculptural inquiry. Ranging from a watercolor attributed to Auguste Rodin to works by Lee Bontecou, Mark di Suvero, Alberto Giacometti, Richard Hunt, Seymour Lipton, and Richard Serra, this exhibition serves as a two-dimensional companion toBottoms Up: A Sculpture Survey.

image: JIM DINE, Untitled, from Glyptotek portfolio, 1989, glaciés transférés etching and aquatint on chine collé, collection of the UK Art Museum


Bill Adams: Blue Madness

pen drawing of bearJan 23, 2016 to Apr 3, 2016

Bill Adams is known for his obsessive drawings in ballpoint pen that offer a roster of furry creatures in simple perspectival landscapes. While they are not anatomically aligned with known animals, they possess a surprising power to solicit our interest  and empathy. What is their condition exactly? Like staring sentinels, they express a cartoon version of existential anxiety—watchful, hopeful, sad, stoic, and bewildered. Their lower bodies seem to be merged with the ground, fixing them in place like monuments. The intimate scale of these works and their accumulation of short pen strokes are reminiscent of the dense vision of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “deluge drawings,” and their compositions owe something to the surreal elegance of Salvador Dali’s imagery. The unmistakable blue palette brings to mind bored students with Bic pens, filling the pages of their notebooks with fantastic beings.

Here at UK, Adams’s color choice will seem like a school edict, and presenting this New Yorker’s work in Lexington during basketball season is to effectively turn his bestiary into a Kentucky Wildcat mascot convention. This is a calculated and generously collaborative decision, and Adams revels in seeing his work operate in distinct contexts. Also on view are recent sculptures that give his protagonists a more sinister look, with mask-like flatness and elongated features.

image: BILL ADAMS, Bluey, ballpoint pen, courtesy of the artist and Kerry Schuss Gallery
Open House: Selections from the Sue and John Wieland Collection

red and yellow houseJan 23, 2016 to Apr 3, 2016

Every child has made a drawing of a house—a square with a triangle on top. A door and a window are usually added next and maybe a chimney with smoke coming out. This act of imagining a safe space for living in is so ingrained in us, it should not be a surprise to find that artists have found the subject fascinating.

In his influential book The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard writes, “the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.”  Comedian George Carlin famously suggested, “Your house is just a place for your stuff. That’s all your house is, a pile of stuff with a cover on it.”

Houses, and what they mean, have been the focus of Atlanta patrons Sue and John Wieland for decades. Successful homebuilders in the South, they have amassed a diverse collection of works by an international roster of artists, including Vito Acconci, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Louise Bourgeois, Tony Cragg, Roy Lichtenstein, Cindy Sherman, and Ai Weiwei.

Walking House, a large silver gelatin photograph by Laurie Simmons, is a surrealistic pairing of a woman’s shapely legs with a detailed model of an expensive suburban home. Is the artist telling us that femininity and domesticity are both idealized “constructions”?

Gregory Crewdson has developed his own team of set designers, lighting specialists, makeup artists, actors, and extras to stage photographs that achieve the qualities of a Hollywood film shoot. In one image from his Dream Houseportfolio, Crewdson presents the actress Julianne Moore sitting at the edge of large bed while her partner sleeps. What is she thinking? Is their marriage about to end? Without a narrative that precedes or follows this moment, the answers are left for the viewer to decide.

Mark Bennett is known for his blueprint lithographs based on the floor plans of baby-boomer-era sitcoms and cartoons, including BatmanI Love Lucy, and The Jeffersons. Through research and repeated viewing of these programs, the artist becomes a pseudo-architect and archivist whose job capturing unnecessary information speaks to our culture’s fascination with the blur of fact and fantasy.

In a university setting where subjects such as art, architecture, history, gender studies, psychology, and urban planning are taught, as well as in a city where historic homes are cherished and maintained for future generations, Open Houseaffords us an amazing opportunity for analysis and discussion about how houses help to make us who we are.

image: Roy Lichtenstein, Small House, 1997, cast aluminum and paint, collection of Sue and John Wieland, ©Estate of Roy Lichtenstein
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm

chalk drawing of women in houseMay 6, 2016 to Jul 31, 2016

a video of Natalie Frank talking about her "Brothers Grimm" exhibition

A virtuoso painter and draftswoman, Natalie Frank extends the venerable figurative tradition, finding ways to present the human body in complex new narratives of desire and disgust. Between 2001 and 2014, Frank created seventy-five drawings based on the original, unsanitized stories transcribed by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in the 1800s. Her interest lies in examining the complexities of these tales and how they might speak to audiences today about issues of identity, sexuality, transgression, and transformation.

These works on paper reveal Frank’s ability to weave variously detailed human and animal forms into unique domestic settings. She uses a combination of gouache and chalk pastel, depicting costumes, furniture, windows, and other narrative elements in riotous color and shifting surface textures. While prompted by the Grimm literature, she also seems to be acknowledging a Who’s Who of artist forebears, including Francis Bacon, Pierre Bonnard, James Ensor, Odilon Redon, Paula Rego, and Jenny Saville.

This exhibition was curated by Claire Gilman, senior curator at the Drawing Center in New York and presented there from April 10-June 28, 2015. It was later shown at the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas in Austin from July 11-November 15, 2015.

NATALIE FRANK, A Tale with a Riddle (Grimm’s Fairy Tales), 2014, gouache and chalk pastel on paper, collection of the UK Art Museum
Paul Shambroom: Lost

brown and white dog in grassMar 4, 2016 to May 22, 2016

In his recent series Lost, Paul Shambroom photographs weathered posters of missing pets, digitally enhancing aspects of the ghostly images. He abstracts the owners’ pleas into snippets of “found” poetry that speak to our deep connection with animals: “She is quite shy and doesn’t answer to her name.” The sense of love and of loss is palpable.

Shambroom has frequently focused on issues that are integral parts of our lives but are difficult to examine, such as the manifestation of power in American culture. He spent two years gaining permission to photograph the country’s nuclear arsenals and as many attending small-town municipal meetings, photographing elected officials enacting democracy at a grassroots level.

His photographs have been exhibited widely and are part of many prestigious collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Walker Art Center, and the High Museum of Art.

image: PAUL SHAMBROOM, Bode, 2013, pigmented inkjet print on paper, courtesy of the artist
One + One

woman pulling cow in fieldFeb 12, 2016 to May 22, 2016

One + One is a Permanent Collection installation that brings together several artists who repeat signature motifs and or utilize techniques that establish distinct states of the same image with small changes to composition or density. Their works question the notion of singularity and uniqueness in drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and painting; questioning the motives and methods of repetition. Andy Warhol and Kentucky folk artist Edgar Tolson unapologetically produced their art for a market, affirming that art and commerce have long walked hand in hand. Doris Ulmann, Paul-Cesar Helleu, and Sol Lewitt used different photographic and printmaking techniques or a variety of colored inks to alter the aesthetics of an image. Knox Martin produced closely related images in a series of lithographs, while Victor Hammer made two sketches of a leg with subtle variations in preparation for a painting.

We expect that the highlight of this installation will be the pairing of two almost identical paintings by Julien Dupré, whose canvas, In the Pasture from 1883, has long been a favorite of visitors to the UK Art Museum. An earlier painting by Dupré, In Pasture from 1882, has been borrowed from the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis, in order to create a wondrous compare and contrast scenario. The artist’s paintings of French agricultural life won even more praise from patrons in America than in his native France, and now we can see two of his masterful paintings of a young milkmaid attempting to pull a recalcitrant cow to a stake in the ground.

image: JULIEN DUPRÉ, In Pasture, 1882, oil on canvas, collection of Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Ground

boat and creature facesMay 6, 2016 to Jul 31, 2016

To call Lawrence Tarpey a painter is a bit misleading because he combines a range of techniques to call forth the human and animal imagery that populate his works on paper, panel, and canvas. The Lexington-based artist often puts down a ground of ink or paint and then disturbs it with sponges and scrapers during the drying process. This provides him with indications of figures and landscape formations that he can further articulate in distinct acts of drawing and erasing, a process he calls “etching.” This is not surprising since qualities associated with traditional printmaking inform much of Tarpey’s work. Color is kept to a minimum, with an overall monochrome palette establishing his pictorial spaces. Occasionally, a rich hue will help focus the viewer on a detail or establish a compositional rhythm.

There is a dreamlike quality to Tarpey’s intimate worlds that harkens back to surrealist practitioners like Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, and Joan Miró. He is playful when he depicts heads and other disparate body parts experiencing humorous encounters or confronting minor quandaries. There are also potential nightmares, such as when his orchestration of countless bodies is overwhelming and an air of apocalypse hovers.

Tarpey works slowly, and his studio is filled with numerous works in progress. He waits and watches for the next move to become clear, a tonal shift here or a biomorphic shape redefined there. Recurring motifs and procedural obsessions make his work immediately recognizable, and he revels in conjuring likable characters and elusive personages. “I’m not interested in storytelling,” he said recently. Distinct moods define his horror vacui—anxious, whimsical, and elegiac. His work demands our time and concentrated looking.

image: LAWRENCE TARPEY, I Dream of Dreamy, 2003, oil and pencil on gessoboard, courtesy of the artist and the Heike Pickett Gallery
Ralph Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama

oversized eyeglasses and chairMay 6, 2016 to Jul 31, 2016

This installation of photographs from the Museum’s permanent collection was chosen to accompany the Natalie Frank and Lawrence Tarpey exhibitions. Ralph Eugene Meatyard and Duane Michals are each known for creating distinctive narratives using staged photography, often pushing their image-making toward other genres, including film, theater, and literature.

A Lexington optician, Meatyard was an avid reader whose fascination with Zen philosophy informed his photographic practice. Rejecting the idea of photography as a mirror of nature, he experimented with multiple exposures and blurred images and employed a wide variety of props, including masks. He often worked in abandoned farmhouses, posing family and friends in mysterious and sometimes troubling tableaux that explore the ephemeral nature of life.

Michals is known for his use of sequential images, often with handwritten texts that add another layer of interpretive data to the visual experience. He claims William Blake, Lewis Carroll, and René Magritte as influences on his work, which is not surprising given the altered reality and confessional aspects of his production. In Alice’s Mirror, he invites us to step through the looking glass, using miniaturized sets to shape our perception.

image: DUANE MICHALS, Untitled from Alice’s Mirror, 1974, gelatin silver print, collection of UK Art Museum
James Baker Hall: The Poet's Eye

person leaning against wall looking at cameraJul 30, 2016 to Nov 27, 2016

James Baker Hall (1935-2009) was a poet, whether employing words or images. His deep connections within Kentucky’s literary and photography communities nurtured his work in both fields. He and Wendell Berry were close friends and collaborators. Hall was also a member of the Lexington Camera Club and considered Ralph Eugene Meatyard a mentor as well as a friend.

These photographs, drawn from the Museum’s collection, examine Hall’s use of Kentucky as both subject and subtext. He made Tobacco Harvest in 1973, the year he returned to Lexington after living away for many years. It is a prescient look at a vanishing way of life. He examined painful family histories in the series Orphan in the Attic, and his enduring love of the land is evident in many images made on his farm in Sadieville.

Named Kentucky Poet Laureate in 2001, Hall earned a BA in English at UK and an MA in creative writing at Stanford, where he held a Wallace Stegner Fellowship. He led the creative writing program at UK for three decades, beginning in 1973. He authored five volumes of poetry, two novels, and several books featuring his photographs. He was a contributing editor at Aperture and wrote widely about photography, including monographs on Meatyard and Minor White.

Click here to listen to an interview with UK Art Museum curator Janie Welker and WUKY's Tom Godell.

This exhibition has been organized to coincide with Kentucky Renaissance: The Lexington Camera Club and Its Community, 1954–1974 at the Cincinnati Art Museum from October 8, 2016, to January 1, 2017.

image: JAMES BAKER HALL, Untitled, from Orphan in the Attic series, 1996, chromogenic print. UK Art Museum: Robert C. May Photography Fund

George Washington profileJul 30, 2016 to Nov 27, 2016

Timed to coincide with this year’s election, POTUS (President of the United States) features representations of individuals who have been president, as well as those who aspire to the office.

Drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection, borrowed from UK Special Collections, and commissioned for this occasion, the exhibition includes Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington; Gutzon Borglum’s bronze bust of Abraham Lincoln; Harry Shearer’s video montage of Democrats Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign; political cartoons by Edward Sorel of Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal; and Joel Feldman’s satiric drawings of Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, other candidates, and US citizens contemplating their choices in 2016.

Thanks to Deirdre Scaggs, Associate Dean, UK Special Collections Research Center, for supporting this exhibition.

GILBERT STUART, Portrait of George Washington, after 1795, oil on panel. UK Art Museum: Gift of Mary V. Fisher
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself

Man in suit looking at camera reading bookAug 27, 2016 to Nov 27, 2016

Since 1972, Louis Zoellar Bickett has maintained a rigorous practice of collecting and cataloging items from his daily life to form a vast archive of found, gifted, purchased, and made objects. Saving Myself brings together several specific projects that are part of what he calls THE ARCHIVE, his vast and detailed accumulation of photographs, receipts, articles of clothing, books, toys, furniture, and bodily fluids, to name a few, all preserved and placed throughout his home/studio in Lexington, KY. They tell the story of one man’s awareness of time, place, and connectivity to others.

Bickett’s methodology asserts that there is no separation between being in the world and making art, and, in this regard, his years spent working as a waiter, reading canonical literature, photographing political and cultural events, traveling, and maintaining friendships are all bound up with each other. He maintains a conceptual orientation that is informed by an awareness of and respect for artists whose works assert similar beliefs and accumulation strategies, including Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Hanne Darboven, On Kawara, and Dieter Roth.

Saving Myself will afford viewers a chance to examine some of Bickett’s most consistent subjects—religion, sexuality, family, friendship, and history—both personal and cultural. The exhibition features a dense installation of storage boxes that serve as architectural borders and pedestals for a selection of photographs, annotated objects, and ephemera. Soil collected from Civil War battlefields and notorious gravesites are sealed in glass jars. Portraits of the artist holding some of his favorite books or wearing his collection of hats show a hyperaware performer channeling his inner Buster Keaton. Postcards obtained by Bickett at faraway locales are modified and mailed to himself at home, revealing his Dadaesque spirit.

In his book Palimpsest, Gore Vidal says, “A memoir is how one remembers one’s own life, while an autobiography is history requiring dates, facts double-checked.” Bickett’s poignant and playful endeavors combine an awareness of mortality with a love of ritual and risk. He lives the art life with vitality, curiosity, and grace.

Bickett has exhibited in galleries and museums, including Institute 193 and the Lexington Art League in Lexington, KY; Zephyr Gallery, the Speed Art Museum, and the University of Louisville Hite Art Institute in Louisville, KY; and Galerie Eugen Lendl in Graz, Austria.

This exhibition has been developed in partnership with other Lexington, Kentucky venues who will present exhibitions of Bickett's work this fall, including:
Institute 193: Selections from the Art Collection (Oct. 27 – Nov. 26, 2016)
Lexington Art League: All We Ever Wanted (Oct. 28 – Nov. 27, 2016)
UK Chandler Hospital Dining Pavilion:  The Kentucky Dirt Project: 120 Counties  (permanent installation)
21c Museum Hotel: What You Don’t Surrender The World Strips Away (Sept. 9, 2016 – Apr. 15, 2017)

Special Thanks to Smiley Pete Publications for helping us promote these exhibitions

image: LOUIS ZOELLAR BICKETT, What I Read (Grapes of Wrath), 2008, photograph. Courtesy of the artist.
Donald Lipski: Pieces of String Too Short to Save

installation of art in museum galleryJul 30, 2016 to Nov 27, 2016

Since 1979, Donald Lipski’s work has been defined by his ingenious manipulation of common materials in small and large sculptures and installations. Drinking straws, bits of wire, bottles, cigarettes, flags, musical instruments, and countless other everyday items have been assembled into precise formal studies. In his steadfast use of commercial objects, Lipski continues the legacy of twentieth-century artists, including Arman, Joseph Cornell, and Marcel Duchamp. His ongoing investigations into conditions of materiality, composition, and site specificity affirm a connection to the Dada, Surrealism, Pop, and Minimalism art movements.

Lipski sculpture is often a two-part acknowledgment—seeing a recognizable object and then appreciating the artist’s engagement with it. This can involve isolating a single item for contemplation, presenting vast quantities of things brought together for maximum impact, or altering materials through processes of slicing, weaving, wrapping, piercing, and stacking.

As part of the Museum's ARTIST CONVERSATION series, Donald Lipski will be at the Museum Monday, October 17, at 6:30 pm to discuss his sculpture and large scale installations with Director Stuart Horodner. This event is free and open to the public.

Donald Lipski was born in Chicago in 1947. His work is in the collections of The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Menil Collection, Houston; among others.

Special thanks to Carl Solway for facilitating this significant gift to our collection.

image: DONALD LIPSKI, Pieces of String too Short to Save, 1998, industrial mesh cages filled with found objects. UK Art Museum: Gift of Terri Hyland
Mira Schor: Time & Flesh

green paint with voice and speech in textJul 30, 2016 to Nov 27, 2016

Mira Schor is a New York-based artist and writer who has made numerous contributions to feminist art history and contemporary criticism. Her paintings and drawings offer possibilities for representing the lived experiences of women, examining conditions of power, desire, voice, and vulnerability. 

Schor revels in materials—ink, gesso, oil paint, paper, and linen—put into service as agents of intellectual and pictorial investigation. She has depicted body parts (ear, breast, penis, vagina), calligraphic words (joy, lack, flesh, area of denial), and punctuation marks and symbols (comma, semicolon, ellipsis, speech and thought bubbles), giving them all a palpable presence in fields of modulated color. Her work acknowledges the gestural impact of Abstract Expressionism while making a case for modest scale and intimate viewing.                 

In recent years, her work has featured an avatar for the artist herself. This loose-limbed and block-headed stick figure is seen walking, looking, reading, relaxing, and pondering. Skulls appear as well, confronting existential questions posed as handwritten texts from the self or others.

Time & Flesh, a modest sampling of Schor paintings, was planned to coincide with her participation on Monday, October 3, in Paying Attention, the Bale Boone Symposium developed by the Gaines Center for the Humanities and the UK Art Museum.

Schor is the recipient of awards in painting from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, Marie Walsh Sharpe, and the Pollock-Krasner Foundations and of the College Art Association’s Frank Jewett Mather Award in Art Criticism. She is the author of A Decade of Negative Thinking: Essays on Art, Politics, and Daily Life; Wet: On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture; co-editor of M/E/A/N/I/N/G: An Anthology of Artists’ Writings, Theory, and Criticism; and has contributed essays to Brooklyn Rail, Artforum, The Huffington Post, Art Journal, and Heresies, among others.

image: MIRA SCHOR, Voice and Speech, 2010, ink and oil on gesso on linen. Courtesy of the artist


The Gaines Challenge Fund

knight and woman sittingJan 18, 2017 to May 20, 2017

In 1981, avid horseman, collector, and philanthropist John Gaines issued a $250,000 challenge grant—to be matched by donors and the University—to buy works for the newly created UK Art Museum. The resulting funds enabled the purchase of seventy-three paintings, drawings, and prints, including work by Old Masters and important contemporary artists. 

Gaines and his wife, Joan, personally gifted Jean Baptiste Carpeaux’s sculpture La Négresse, which will be on view along with Agostino Carracci’s Madonna and Child with St. John and the early seventeenth-century Spanish painting A Knight of Santiago and His Lady, among other works.

image: SPANISH, A Knight of Santiago and His Lady, circa 1610, oil on linen. UK Art Museum collection: Gaines Challenge Fund purchase

city street with cars drivingJan 18, 2017 to May 20, 2017

The city—its streets, architecture, energy, and rhythms—has long fascinated artists. New York comes to life in Yvonne Jacquette’s jazzy image of Times Square, Christo’s proposal for a wrapped building, and Louis Lozowick’s view of the Manhattan skyline. Wayne Thiebaud captures San Francisco’s roller coaster hills in a precise etching. In Michael Goodlett’s sculpture, a plane crashes into a burning metropolis, a vision predating the horrors of September 11, 2001.

Van Deren Coke, Edward Fisk, and William D. Frazer contribute views of downtown Lexington in the 1930s. Compare their images of Cheapside, Davis Bottom, and Irishtown with our city today.

image: YVONNE JACQUETTE, Motion Picture (Times Square), 1989-1990, lithograph and silkscreen on paper. UK Art Museum collection
Andrea Modica: Best Friends

two people standing and facing cameraJan 18, 2017 to Apr 30, 2017

Andrea Modica is known for the evocative narratives she creates in work such as Best Friends, which explores the deep bonds between high school students in America and Italy. She often works on photographic projects over long periods of time, developing an intimacy and trust with her subjects. In her highly acclaimed series and book Treadwell, she followed the struggles of a girl named Barbara and her family in rural upstate New York from 1986 to 2001. In Human Being, she worked with an anthropologist to make portraits of the skulls of anonymous patients who had been buried in a mass grave in the 1890s in the former Colorado Insane Asylum near Pueblo.

The winner of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Fulbright grant, Modica has exhibited extensively in Europe and the United States. Her photographs are part of the permanent collections of numerous institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the International Museum of Photography and Film at the George Eastman House, and the Bibliothèque Nationale.

image credit: ANDREA MODICA, Istituto Superiore d’Arte Adolfo Venturi, Modena, Italy, 2010, platinum/palladium contact print. Courtesy of the artist

woman in costume facing cameraJan 18, 2017 to May 20, 2017

The body is a formidable subject for artists—used to explore physicality and presence, issues of identity and agency, aging and mortality. The Museum’s permanent collection includes many “bodies,” appearing in photographs, sculpture, and paintings. They can be humorous, enigmatic, realistic, and abstract.

William Welsh’s grand painting Burlesque Queen (the artist’s original title, discovered during reframing) is a recent gift. She wears her corpulence—and skimpy costume—with confidence and ease. Other artists represented include Mary Cassatt, Lalla Essaydi, Leon Golub, Carrie Mae Weems, and Francisco Zúñiga. Confronting their distinct works, we can learn to appreciate difference and shared humanity.

image: WILLIAM WELSH, Burlesque Queen, 1941, oil on canvas. UK Art Museum collection: Gift of Loraine M. Sanders
Still Lifes

rainbow background with basket of flowersJan 18, 2017 to May 20, 2017

Take a few perishable items (flowers, fruits, vegetables) cultural signifiers (books, postcards) or domestic objects (baskets, bowls) and arrange them in a room or on a table. Proceed to render these in great detail or abstract them into suggestive shapes and colors. This is often the first creative exercise for aspiring artists, helping them to refine their representation skills or master certain mediums. This selection of still lifes from the permanent collection reveals the vitality and diversity of the genre and includes works by Ay-O, Cole Carothers, Mary Ann Currier, Hattie Hutchcraft Hill, David Hockney, Konrad Klapheck, William Scott, and others.

image: AY-O, Basket of Fruit with Flowers by an Unknown Artist, about 1839, from Nashville Skyline portfolio, 1971, silkscreen on paper. UK Art Museum collection
Mike McKay: Singularities

installation in galleryJan 18, 2017 to Apr 23, 2017

Mike McKay is interested in architectural conditions and how space can be perceived, altered, and interpreted. His installations using metal and formed plastic elements create fluctuating fields and torqued forms, and he has repeatedly investigated perspective by applying reflective vinyl to existing interiors in order to produce interactive optical encounters.

He states, “Architectural illusion and perspectival deceptions have been investigated since antiquity in order to alter the perception of a given space. My intention has been to investigate how these ideas can be directed toward the production of unexpected cognitive juxtapositions and new social relationships.”

With Singularities, McKay takes on a gallery space and passageway at the Museum, exploiting their proximity and, in essence, reimagining their solidity. He has fabricated an elaborate arcade-like wooden structure, and applied metallic and painted surfaces to it and surrounding planes.  As viewers enter his installation, they will find themselves navigating an environment that shifts between physical fact and perceptual experience.

McKay is an Associate Professor at the University of Kentucky College of Design. He received a BA in architecture from the University of Kentucky and an MA in architecture from Princeton University. His paintings, mixed media work, and installations have been exhibited in England, France, Germany, Italy, and throughout the United States.

Special thanks to the UK College of Design for their generous support of this exhibition. 

image: MIKE MCKAY, Proposal for Singularities, 2016, digital rendering by Mike McKay
Face Value: Photographs by Doris Ulmann & Andy Warhol

photo of Muhammad Ali Jan 28, 2017 to Apr 23, 2017

Separated by a half century, Doris Ulmann (1882-1934) and Andy Warhol (1928-1987) had profound aesthetic and philosophical differences, yet shared surprising common ground. Face Value is a unique opportunity to see their work together, revealing distinct approaches to portraiture, constructions of identity, and conceptions of art, class, and society. The exhibition features 66 photographs drawn from the Museum’s extensive collection of images by both artists, presented in ways that acknowledge the evolution of the medium (cameras, technical capacities, and printing techniques) and the sensitivity to the individuals who posed for them or were posed by them. 

Born into a wealthy and cultivated New York family, Ulmann lit and composed portraits like old master paintings and printed them on richly toned platinum paper. She studied with Clarence White, a leader of the Pictorialist Movement of the 1880s, which favored soft focus and painterly printing techniques designed to establish photography as a legitimate art form. Ulmann worked in this style—using a large format view camera and making glass plate negatives—long after smaller film cameras were widely available and sharp-focus Modernism was in vogue.

Warhol came from a working-class family in Pittsburgh and parlayed his early success as an advertising artist into a notorious career that fluidly combined film-making, painting, publishing, and collecting. He was a pioneer of Pop Art, which embraced both the subjects and techniques of commercial art: Campbell’s soup and movie stars were both commodities in his varied productions. Harshly lit and high contrast, his black-and-white photographs caught partiers in awkward moments, while his stark color Polaroids were raw data to be used later in vivid silkscreens on canvas and paper.

Although Ulmann frequently invited leading writers, artists, and intellectuals to her plush, Park Avenue apartment for leisurely sittings, she also traveled to chronicle what she saw as “vanishing types,” vestiges of pre-industrial America. These included skilled laborers in Manhattan as well as craftsmen and musicians in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky and the Carolinas. Warhol compulsively documented his life and the social set he avidly cultivated. His studio, The Factory, was awash in drugs and sex, and peopled with rock stars, actors, and wealthy socialites who provided a steady stream of photogenic bodies for his 35mm and Polaroid cameras.

Face Value brings together washer women, miners, fashion designers, and sports heroes. It provides access to insular communities defined by history and geography, including Shaker villages and Gullah settlements, as well as hotspots like Studio 54 and Fire Island. And most importantly, it offers an unlikely pair of portraitists, who know that photography can be slow or fast, grainy or sharp, factual or full of fiction.

image: ANDY WARHOL, Muhammad Ali, 1977, Polacolor Type 108 print. UK Art Museum: Gift of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
Frank Doring: I Would Redesign That Udder

American flag and calves on fieldMay 20, 2017 to Aug 20, 2017

Frank Döring finds a microcosm of the human­­­—and animal—condition at the state and county fairs that take place all summer long within a day’s drive of his Lexington home. While agricultural fairs draw more visitors than major league baseball games annually, there has been little serious examination of these rural events that celebrate the way of life in farming communities.

With empathy, sensitivity, and humor, Döring has been photographing the champion steers, greased piglets, sheep rodeos, and garish midways since 2011. In his images, children expertly guide farm animals around the show ring, teenagers use blow dryers to fluff up heifers, and whole families form tableaux vivants at concession stands and carnival games.

“There is skill and knowledge to appreciate (including sage advice on breeding prettier udders); there is courage, strength, joy, and hilarity; there is pain, exhaustion, and disappointment,” he says.

Döring, who is German born, came to the United States to earn a doctorate in philosophy at Princeton University. He worked as a cognitive science researcher at École Polytechnique in Paris, France, and a philosophy professor at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Cincinnati before giving up academia for photography in order to reach a wider and more diverse audience. In recent years, he has also been working on a series of roadside views in Kentucky and surrounding states and has photographed a wide variety of landscape and architectural subjects.

He has recently exhibited work at the San Francisco International Airport; the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, in The Netherlands; and Institute 193 in Lexington. His photographic mural Blades, made with Joel Feldman, will be installed this year at 21c Museum Hotel in Lexington.

Frank Döring, Midway, Montgomery County Fair, July 2016, Archival inkjet print.
Courtesy of the artist.
Thomas Nozkowski: Touchstones

brown and yellow abstract workMay 20, 2017 to Aug 20, 2017

Thomas Nozkowski is known for his modestly scaled abstract paintings, featuring enigmatic shapes and richly textured surfaces. In contrast to many artists of his generation and successive ones, he works slowly in oil paint on prepared panels and paper, and the size of his work never extends beyond three feet in any direction.

Viewers are drawn into his intricately formed spaces, which are influenced by direct observation of the world around him and enhanced by his pictorial imagination. A hike in the area of the Hudson Valley where he lives, an arrangement of household objects, and numerous examples of art in European and American movements have all made their way into his paintings, but rarely can one identify a specific starting point. Instead, one recognizes a carefully orchestrated event, the result of procedures of making, changing, and remaking. His works possesses a startling freshness, despite the amount of time necessary to create them. 

We easily could have chosen a variety of Nozkowski paintings and drawings and installed them in our galleries. Instead, we asked him to pair a selection with art from the Museum’s permanent collection.  In this way, he could tease out aspects of inspiration and affinity, allowing viewers to make surprising connections. Works by Milton Avery, Stuart Davis, Paul Gauguin, Morris Graves, David Alfaro Siqueiros, among others, help us appreciate Nozkowski’s achievements as well as the Museum’s collection.

Thomas Nozkowski received his B.F.A. from The Cooper Union School of Art, New York, in 1967. His paintings have been featured in more than three hundred museum and gallery exhibitions worldwide, including more than seventy solo shows. His work is in the permanent collections of Brooklyn Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Morgan Library and Museum, and The Museum of Modern Art in New York; in The Phillips Collection, Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.; and many others.

R.C. May Photography Lecture Series: Teju Cole

image of person on wallOct 7, 2017 to Dec 15, 2017

Teju Cole is an acclaimed photographer, writer, and art historian. His relentless travel provides opportunities for precise observation and reflection on human culture—what can be seen and described, and what can be felt. In his recent exhibition Blind Spot and Black Paper and the related book, he links images of public and private spaces with insightful prose in a glancing, poetic manner. 

Cole is the photography critic of the New York Times Magazine and an award-winning novelist (Open City) and essay writer (Known and Strange Things). These works have earned a variety of honors including the PEN/Hemingway Award, the New York City Book Award for Fiction, the Focus Award from the Griffin Museum of Photography, and the Windham Campbell Prize for fiction from Yale University. Raised in Nigeria, Cole currently resides in Brooklyn.

image: TEJU COLE, Zürich, October 2014, archival pigment print. Courtesy of the artist and Steven Kasher Gallery, New York
R.C. May Photography Lecture Series: Lori Nix

tree in abandoned libraryOct 7, 2017 to Dec 15, 2017

Lori Nix’s sensibility was formed by a childhood in Kansas where floods, blizzards, and tornadoes were normal phenomena and films like Planet of the Apes, Towering Inferno, and Earthquake played at the movie house. Her photographs present spaces of urban ruin—a wrecked anatomy classroom, a once grand library, and a Chinese takeout restaurant, to name a few. These are not documents of real world decay but rather images made with painstakingly constructed dioramas that she builds with her partner, Kathleen Gerber. Work from Nix’s series The City will be on exhibition Oct 7 -  Dec 15, 2017

Nix’s work has been exhibited throughout the country and is in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the George Eastman Museum, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, among others.

image: LORI NIX, Library, 2007, archival pigment print. Courtesy of the artist
Alison Saar: Breach

wood sculptureSep 9, 2017 to Dec 3, 2017

Alison Saar is an American sculptor, painter, and installation artist. Her work explores issues of gender, race, and the African diaspora and draws on visual and cultural histories of modern dance, poetry, blues, and jazz as well as diverse artistic traditions.

In the exhibition Breach, Saar focuses on the catastrophic Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927, in which she found striking parallels to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Not only did the earlier disaster expose dreadful conditions for African American sharecroppers and tenant farmers, but also blatant discrimination in rescue efforts and allocation of government relief funds and services. The artist examines the complex interaction of social, cultural, and political factors associated with environmental disasters and our response to them.

Water imagery is woven throughout this exhibition of mixed media sculpture, painting, and works on paper. With titles like Sleufoot Slide and Backwater Boogie, it is not always clear whether figures are dancing or struggling for their lives.

A recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and Joan Mitchell Foundation fellowships, Saar has exhibited widely within museums as well as creating large-scale outdoor sculpture. Her work can be found in the collections of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Whitney Museum of American Art and Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the High Museum in Atlanta, among many others.

Breach was organized by Lafayette College Art Galleries in Easton, PA.

image: ALISON SAAR, Breach, 2016, wood, ceiling tin, found trunks, washtubs and misc objects. Courtesy of the artist and LA Louver Gallery, LA
Modern Women

woman looking forward in blue shirtDec 2, 2017 to Apr 8, 2018

In common parlance, the word modern means contemporary. Modern art, which had its beginnings in France in the 1860s and became one of the most prominent idioms in America and Europe in the early twentieth century, was exactly that: art that focused on its own time, rather than history or mythology.

In this exhibition we examine how women were perceived and represented from the early 1900s to the mid-1930s in the work of Berenice Abbott, Eugene Atget, Edward Fisk, Marie Laurencin, Jaques Villon, and others.  
The transformation of women’s roles in society underscores the work. Abbott portrays her fellow artist Laurencin as a woman of confidence and self-awareness. In Fisk’s painting of Mary Daniel, the housekeeper projects great strength—and a clear sense that she would rather be somewhere else. A pair of showgirls in Robert Philipps’s painting exhibit their own sense of agency within the world they negotiate. Traditions such as the female nude persisted, but in ways that acknowledged cultural changes. These works from the museum’s collection offer a range of Modernist vision and interpretation.

Image: EDWARD FRANKLIN FISK, Mary Daniel, 1938, oil on canvas. UK Art Museum collection. Gift of Allie Hendricks and Milton Fisk
Hugh Evans: Recent Gifts

red and white abstract artDec 2, 2017 to Apr 1, 2018

Hugh Evans is a passionate art collector, whose donations of paintings, prints, and sculpture between 1995 and the present, have greatly enriched the Museum. This installation of work by Sam Gilliam, Jacob Kainen, Douglas Randall, and David Reed features selections from a 2017 gift. 

A Kentucky native and 1952 graduate of the UK College of Law, Evans had a distinguished career as an attorney in Washington, D.C., where he drafted national security legislation and retired in 1990 as Deputy Legislative Counsel of the United States Senate. He and his late wife, Jane Chitwood Evans, a UK graduate with a master’s degree in business education, moved to Washington in 1954 and soon began visiting museums and art galleries and making thoughtful purchases.  
Evans gravitated toward artists who specialized in lyrical abstraction, from Gilliam’s expressive stained color field canvases of the 1970s to Reed’s structured gestures on paper of the 1990s. In all, he has gifted ten pieces of art to the Museum since 1995, including work by Joan Miró, Albert Paley, and Peter Reginato.

image: JACOB KAINEN, Masquerade in Chevy Chase, 1933, monoprint on paper. UK Art Museum collection. Gift of Hugh C.Evans



Water Ways

ship in ocean and people on shoreJan 13, 2018 to Jul 22, 2018

When despair for the world grows in me...
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars 
waiting with their light. For a time 
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.  
Wendell Berry, The Peace of Wild Things (excerpt)

The element of water is essential to life, in both symbolic and literal ways. Still waters bring peace—unless you are becalmed in the middle of an ocean. Stormy seas signal trouble. Lack of water means death; it threatens to be the most contested resource of the twenty-first century. Oceans, rivers, and lakes have been a source of sustenance, providing food and employment, and supporting commerce. As a vehicle for sailing ships, water is associated with epic journeys in literature and life, from The Odyssey to an immigrant’s arrival in a new world. Artists have long been lured by its song.

Water Ways offers the opportunity to examine themes of travel, work, leisure, religious ritual, nature’s succor—and its fury. A diverse selection of paintings and works on paper, both grand and intimate, are on view, featuring the art of Ansel Adams, Romare Bearden, Emil Furst, Louis-Gabriel-Eugene Isabey, Robert C. May, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, and Doris Ulmann, among others.

image: ROMARE BEARDEN, Siren's Song, from the Odysseus Suite 1979, color screen print on paper. Collection of the UK Art Museum. Anonymous gift
Looking at Men

man holding child with tree in backgroundJan 13, 2018 to Apr 8, 2018

As the behavior of prominent male figures in public positions undergoes strong scrutiny in this country, we turn to the Museum’s collection to see how artists have pictured men from varied social, economic, and cultural backgrounds at different points in time. 

We look at images featuring a variety of masculine identities—fathers, sons, laborers, soldiers, artists, and athletes—by a range of artists including Berenice Abbott, Van Deren Coke, David Hilliard, An-My Lê, Hank Willis Thomas, and
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

In conjunction with the exhibition of Edward Melcarth’s art, the work of these artists offers an opportunity to appreciate difference and common ground.

Image: BALDWIN LEE, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1984, gelatin silver print. UK Art Museum, Purchase: Art Museum Fund
Edward Melcarth: Points of View

man with closed eyes and open shirtJan 13, 2018 to Apr 8, 2018

This survey of paintings, drawings, and sculpture by Edward Melcarth is a homecoming of sorts, a chance to assess and appreciate the Louisville-born artist (1914-1973) who left Kentucky to pursue his personal interests and career. Working in the heyday of Abstract Expressionism and later Pop Art, Melcarth maintained a commitment to figurative imagery and techniques gleaned from the Old Masters. 

Points of View looks at Melcarth’s subject matter and his exploration of masculinity, religion, portraiture, drug use, and the American scene. In both small and large canvases, the artist offers dramatic compositions, positioning bodies as interlocking elements or seen from unique perspectives. His models were often street trade from 42nd Street in Manhattan, shown performing blue collar jobs and sporting muscular physiques. They exude seductive and self-aware attitudes, made more overt by the artist’s suggestive titles. These works share affinities with equally erotic depictions of sailors, prize-fighters, and lumberjacks by the American realists Paul Cadmus and Marsden Hartley.

Religious stories including the raising of Lazarus and the Last Supper are subverted by Melcarth’s portraits of Christ and the apostles. Unlike traditional depictions, the men are beardless and youthful, with hard looks and tousled hair. There is no trace of idealization in his 1962 canvas, Last Supper, based on Leonardo da Vinci’s famous fresco. It seems more like an unruly encounter at a diner or bar, with competitive gestures, spilled drinks, and uneaten food. 

Melcarth’s images of men and women riding motorbikes, enjoying the beach, and participating in leisure activities seem to revel in looking and being looked at. The artist is clearly enthusiastic about the process of representing human desire and aggression. His depiction of men shooting up or lost in euphoric drug-fueled states will take on added relevance in the context of the opioid epidemic taking place in the U.S. today, with a particularly devastating effect in Kentucky. 

Edward Melcarth was born in Louisville, KY, in 1914, to a wealthy Jewish family named Epstein (he would later change his last name). He studied at Harvard University and Stanley Hayter’s Atelier 17 in Paris, a notable print studio where European modernists gathered and produced limited editions. His friends and patrons included the Guggenheims—he designed Peggy’s famous bat wing sunglasses—Gore Vidal, and Tennessee Williams. He taught at Parsons School of Design, Columbia University, the University of Washington, the University of Louisville, and the Art Students League. Melcarth died in Venice, Italy in 1973. His works are in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Museum of Arts, Boston; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Detroit Institute of Arts; the Kinsey Institute; and the Forbes Collection. 

Special thanks go to Dr. Jonathan Coleman of the Faulkner-Morgan Pagan Babies Archive for bringing Melcarth’s work to the Museum’s attention and for providing scholarship and enthusiasm about the artist’s work. The exhibition would not be possible without his help and the generous loans from the Forbes family and the efforts of efforts of Bonnie Kirschstein and Elizabeth Marwell.

Image: EDWARD MELCARTH, Junkie with Open Shirt (detail), oil on canvas, The Forbes Collection, New York
R.C. May Photography Lecture Series: Dan Estabrook

face in oven with drops overJan 13, 2018 to Apr 1, 2018

Dan Estabrook employs nineteenth-century photographic techniques and visual tropes to create intimate images that are both deeply personal and universal: the pangs of falling in love, the fear of loss, taking an account of one’s life. Like his historic predecessors, Estabrook’s work veers between a guise of scientific inquiry and more symbolic and poetic interpretations.  He often alters photographs— adding paint or emulsion to salt prints, or cutting away parts of tintypes— so that each work is unique.

Born and raised in Boston, Estabrook received a BA at Harvard and an MFA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and now lives in New York. He has exhibited widely and received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Peter S. Reed Foundation Grant and the Buhl Foundation, among others.

Image: DAN ESTABROOK, Fever from the Nine Symptoms series, 2004, salt print with watercolor and ink. Courtesy of the artist.
American Impressions

girl in yellow coat leaning on treeFeb 24, 2018 to Jul 22, 2018

Americans’ first reactions to the radical new French painting called Impressionism were less than positive. The movement—with its loose brushstrokes and use of vivid, unmixed colors to convey a heightened sense of light and atmospheric effects—blossomed in France in the early 1870s, but did not catch on here until the late 1880s. By the early 1900s, even Weir became an adherent.

Many of these artists, including Kentucky’s own Hattie Hutchcraft Hill, studied in France and worked both at home and abroad. Willard Metcalf and Theodore Robinson were part of the American colony in Giverny, France, home of the famed Claude Monet. Weir and Childe Hassam painted in New England during the summers and exhibited with the New York-based Ten American Painters. Edward Redfield was a key member of the Pennsylvania Impressionists in New Hope. Frank Harmon Myers and John Ellsworth Weis were part of the Cincinnati art community and traveled together to Paris to paint.

American Impressionism flourished well into the 1920s in this country in a rich variety of styles and forms. This exhibition offers a taste of art that is now beloved, but was once disdained by the public and many artists alike.

EDWARD CUCUEL, Girl in Yellow, 1914 (circa), oil on canvas. UK Art Museum collection: Gift of Mrs. Mattie Schmidt Bowyer in memory of her husband, Charles Henry Bowyer
In the Abstract, Part II

words 'Roth-handle' on red square blockFeb 24, 2018 to Jul 22, 2018

In our continuing investigation of abstraction, we highlight a range of artists who put an emphasis on materials and process. Their works can be intimate or operatic, but they always speak to the physicality of making.

Jake Berthot and David Jeffrey create evocative fields of muted color and spare form. Brice Marden, and Holly Miller each examine spatial borders and various ways of framing space. Ellsworth Kelly positions two blocks of contemplative color in an elegant silkscreen, while Frederic Thursz exploits aspects of collage in the tradition of Abstract Expressionism.

These distinct works and others reveal the attraction that abstraction holds for artists, allowing them an open territory for experimentation and refined craft.

ROBERT MOTHERWELL, Roth-Handle, 1974 - 75, aquatint and collage on handmade Auvergne wove paper. UK Art Museum collection: Acquired by exchange in honor of Richard B. Freeman
On Sitting

high chairMay 4, 2018 to Jul 22, 2018

Sitting is a basic human position for activities associated with work, rest, and leisure. We spend significant hours of each day in chairs or couches of various kinds, and this can be productive and enjoyable as well as a potential risk to our health. This collection of works from the Museum’s permanent collection includes actual chairs and artworks that show individuals and groups in numerous seated poses—riding a bus, milking a cow, getting a haircut, playing cards, and posing for a portrait, among others.

JEAN CHARLOT, High Chair, 1935, color lithograph on paper, Collection of the UK Art Museum
Up in Arms

pink against cityscapeApr 13, 2018 to Jul 22, 2018

We live in turbulent times, with protests occurring regularly as concerned citizens confront issues of gun violence, sexual harassment and violence against women, abuses of power by law enforcement, and frustrations with government officials. To some degree, this has always been the case, and artists are quick to participate and document the energy and activism of their times.

The works in this exhibition reveal historical and contemporary responses to individuals and crowds who have mobilized to draw attention to particular causes. Featured are three recent additions to the Museum’s permanent collection: Amber Boardman’s painting Pink March, which pictures the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. in 2017; a protest poncho designed by the Amsterdam-based design studio Experimental Jetset; and Aaron Skolnick’s 2015 drawing, I Am a Man, based on images from the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers’ strike.

AMBER BOARDMAN, Pink March, 2017, oil on polyester. Collection of the UK Art Museum, gift of the artist.
Reuben Kadish: Witness

sculpture bust in galleryMay 11, 2018 to Jul 29, 2018

Reuben Kadish (1913-1992) is an American artist whose powerful sculptures, drawings, and prints are infused with a deep sense of world culture and mythology. His education and travel brought him into contact with some of the 20th century’s most influential artists, including Phillip Guston, Stanley William Hayter, Jackson Pollock, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. While he exhibited steadily throughout his lifetime, his place in art history is often relegated to who he knew, rather than what he made. 

Witness brings together a range of Kadish’s art, revealing the energetic expressionism he brought to each medium he used. Dogs, snakes, babies, and skeletons populate his exuberant drawings and large monoprints. Palm-sized figures are formed with a sense of precision and agency, displaying both human and animal parts, with shields and other paraphernalia. Larger torsos of standing or reclining women reference the Venus of Willendorf and other “earth mother” identities, each possessing a ravaged voluptuousness. Particularly striking are several large heads in terra cotta and bronze that appear to act as witnesses to, or survivors of, great personal or societal tragedies.

Kadish’s confrontational and commemorative art surely speaks to events of the past, but might be even more relevant as indicators of unpredictable and unseemly futures.

Special thanks go to Judd Tully and Regina Cherry for their help in organizing this exhibition.

REUBEN KADISH: Witness exhibition

arms crossed against chestMay 11, 2018 to Jul 29, 2018

This year is the 200th anniversary of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, written when she was nineteen years old. Since it was first published in 1818, the Gothic tale of Victor Frankenstein and the grotesque creature he makes has been adapted into numerous forms of popular entertainment and has been used to prompt discussions of ethics, science, law, religion, and art. For example: Are potentially harmful experiments justified if they produce new knowledge? Are parents responsible for the acts of their children? 

Frankensteinian presents a range of artworks, literary documents, models, and pop culture items that refer to aspects of the novel, from the “workshop of filthy creation” with its tools and tables, to the accumulated body parts that are stitched together to make a man who seeks understanding and love. The exhibition attempts to prompt viewers to read or reread the novel, and consider the ways that the Frankenstein story may already have played a part of their lives in the form of horrific and humorous films, Halloween costumes, and their own notions of beauty and behavior.  

Special thanks to Jamie Day and the Monroe Moosnick Medical and Science Museum at Transylvania University, Jaime Marie Burton and the UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center, Jeff Babbitt and the UK Chemistry Glassblowing Lab, and other lenders.

VICTOR FALFAN  Mexican, born 1934, Untitled, 1970, watercolor on paper, Collection of the UK Art Museum, Gift of Reverend Edwin B. Fountain
Alix Pearlstein: Grass

horses running in fieldSep 8, 2018 to Dec 9, 2018

Alix Pearlstein’s work in video and performance often brings together groups of actors to explore scripted and improvised movements and dialogue. The results possess a sense of purpose and restraint as the camera and participating bodies negotiate shared space. In 2017, we invited Pearlstein to visit Mill Ridge Farm, a family business in Lexington with a 50-year commitment to the breeding, care, and cultivation of thoroughbreds and the education of audiences about the horse industry.

The result is a 30 minute film, shot over three consecutive days on a single field at Mill Ridge, occupied by the same group of mares and foals. Scenery, point of view, time of day and activity varies, along with a spectrum of associated moods, atmospheres and tones. Her approach to filming emerged through prolonged observation of the temporal conditions of the horses daily lives and routines. This was founded on a premise to consider the field as a stage and the horses as actors. But with these actors there could be no directions, no notes or second and third takes - only responses. 

**The film will be shown as a projection in the small gallery downstairs at the Museum, and while not exactly connected to the Meatyard exhibitions, it will offer another way of looking at bodies in space.

Special thanks to VisitLEX for their generous support of our fall exhibitions and public programs. Additional support comes from the Albisetti Exhibition Fund, the College of Fine Arts, and WUKY.

image: still from ALIX PEARLSTEIN video: GRASS
Ralph Eugene Meatyard: Stages for Being

kids with mask and dolls in woodsSep 8, 2018 to Dec 9, 2018

Ralph Eugene Meatyard (1925 – 1972) made his living as an optician in Lexington while creating enigmatic photographs featuring friends and family members posed in abandoned places, often wearing masks or enacting symbolic gestures. “He picked the environment first,” Christopher Meatyard says of his father’s method. “Then he’d look at the particular light in that moment in that place, and start composing scenes using the camera.” Subjects were placed in the frame and given direction to move or stand still. The results are simultaneously tender, surreal, and theatrical.

Meatyard’s work has been widely exhibited at museums and galleries around the world, but he has not had a significant solo exhibition in his hometown. Stages for Being brings together numerous vintage prints from the 1950s and 60s, many which have not been exhibited or reproduced before. These works reveal Meatyard’s selection of architecture and outdoor environments that frame the human body to create provocative moments of narrative.

The implied stories in Meatyard’s work can be used as jumping-off points for various productions that can broaden the ways in which his images are understood and appreciated. This exhibition, presented on a university campus, provides that opportunity: related plays, poems, and concerts will be presented in the Museum throughout the fall.

Special thanks to VisitLEX for their generous support of our fall exhibitions and public programs. Additional support comes from the Albisetti Exhibition Fund, the College of Fine Arts, and WUKY.

This exhibition would not be possible without the generosity and trust of Christopher and Diane Meatyard.

Artists talking about Meatyard exhibit

RALPH EUGENE MEATYARD, Untitled, 1962, gelatin silver photograph. © The Estate Of Ralph Eugene Meatyard, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery
Downstage from Meatyard

person leaning with yellow backgroundSep 8, 2018 to Dec 9, 2018

This exhibition brings together a range of artists whose works can be linked to the photographs of Ralph Eugene Meatyard by way of his working methods and the psychological and poetic nature of his images. Among these are the collaborative aspect of using family members and friends as models or “actors;” seeking out and utilizing architectural and natural settings for their stage-like potential; and his distinct combination of reality and dream-like and surreal conditions. The artists include Roger Ballen, Mia Cinelli, Mara Eagle, Robert C. May, Guy Mendes, Didier & Francois Morelli, Catherine Opie, and Laurel Nakadate, Throughout this exhibition, we will be presenting performances, readings, plays, and lectures related to or directly inspired by the Meatyard photographs.

Special thanks to VisitLEX for their generous support of our fall exhibitions and public programs. Additional support comes from the Albisetti Exhibition Fund, the College of Fine Arts, and WUKY.

image: DIDIER MORELLI, Re-membering White Men Making White Smoke: More or Less (the archive), 2015, digital print. Courtesy of the artist.


Michael Flomen: Recent Work

Jan 26, 2019 to May 5, 2019

TLC: Conservation and the Collection

Jan 26, 2019 to Aug 4, 2019

CoBrA: Hope After Destruction

Jan 26, 2019 to Jun 30, 2019

painting of person in grass with bird in skySeventy years ago—in the aftermath of the unprecedented devastation of World War II—a group of artists and poets came together in a Parisian café with the intention of creating a movement that rejected European traditions in favor of something new, fresh, and spontaneous. They named themselves CoBrA, after the founders’ native cities: Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam. Their work was heavily influenced by the expressiveness and energy of children’s art. While CoBrA had no single unifying style, there was an emphasis on spontaneity, loose gesture, and strong colors. The movement lasted from its founding at the end of 1948 through 1951 and grew to 60 associated painters, sculptors, and poets.

This exhibition is drawn from the permanent collection and features sculpture, painting, and works on paper by four CoBrA artists: founding members Karel Appel and Cornelis Guillaume van Beverloo (known as Corneille), along with Pierre Alechinsky and Jean Lucebert—a poet as well as a painter—who both joined in 1949.

image: Corneille, La femme aux paupiéres peintes prēte ses formes rondes aux dures lames de l’herbe (The woman with painted eyelids lends her curved form to the hard blades of grass) from the series Enchantements de L’Ete, 1977, Lithograph on paper, Collection of the UK Art Museum, Gift of Mr. Herbert Podell
Stephanie Syjuco: Recent Work

Jan 26, 2019 to Aug 5, 2019

Stephanie Syjuco photographStephanie Syjuco’s photographs and installation work address a range of contemporary issues, including the disputed ground of identity; nationality and citizenship; and the varied legacies of colonialism. The artist was born in the Philippines and came to United States with her family at the age of three; her background is difficult to establish from her appearance. She explores that indeterminacy by often appearing as her own model in different guises, as can be seen in Cargo Cults: Head Bundle.

Syjuco’s work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, among other institutions. A recipient of the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, she is a passionate educator, currently teaching sculpture, photography, and experimental media at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Stephanie Syjuco will give a free lecture as part of the Robert C. May Photography Lecture Series on Friday, March 1, at 4 pm in the Bill Gatton Student Center, Worsham Cinema.

Stephanie Syjuco: Recent Work is on view at the Art Museum through May 5. 

image: Stephanie Syjuco, Cargo Cults: Head Bundle, 2016, pigmented inkjet print, ed. 5, Collection of Nion McEvoy, San Francisco
Pushing the Envelope: Mail Art from the Archives of American Art

Feb 16, 2019 to May 5, 2019

Off the Menu: Looking at Food

Jun 1, 2019 to Aug 11, 2019

Ralph Steadman: A Retrospective

Feb 16, 2019 to May 5, 2019


Jun 1, 2019 to Dec 8, 2019

The Good Earth

Jun 1, 2019 to Feb 9, 2020

Mistaken Identity

Jun 1, 2019 to Dec 8, 2019

TLC, Part II: Conservation and the Collection

Aug 17, 2019 to Feb 17, 2020

oil painting restorationIt is not just people who need tender loving care. Sometimes art does, too. A conservator, who is equal parts chemist and artist, may remove yellowed varnish and gently clean the surface; fill in some missing areas of paint; or attach a lining to the back of a canvas to help stabilize the paint on the front. The thirteen diverse works in this exhibition have all received a variety of treatments.

The dramatic before and after photos of Maud Spiller Holt’s Village Scene reveal that a glowing image was hidden below layers of dirt and staining; we are very pleased to exhibit it for the first time. 

TLC is not just a tribute to the diverse nineteenth- and twentieth-century art on display, but to Chicago-based Barry Bauman, who, after years of running an internationally known conservation studio, retired and offered his services pro bono to non-profit organizations to care for their treasures. Bauman has treated 47 paintings for the Museum.

Image: Maud Spiller Holt, Village Scene, undated, oil on canvas, Collection of the UK Art Museum (before and after conservation).

Jul 13, 2019 to Dec 8, 2019

Laura Letinsky: Recent Works

Sep 14, 2019 to Dec 8, 2019

Bethany Collins: Benediction

Sep 14, 2019 to Dec 8, 2019

Interwoven: Joan Snyder, Judy Ledgerwood, Crystal Gregory

Sep 14, 2019 to Dec 8, 2019


Celebration of Donors: Richard B. Freeman and the Patrons of Graphics

lithograph on paperNov 10, 2020 to Apr 3, 2021

Richard B. Freeman was a passionate educator, art collector, curator, and donor whose generosity resulted in more than 230 gifts of art to the Museum, many in the form of prints and drawings dating from the 1960s and 1970s. This exhibition offers a sampling of the international group of artists whose work was donated by Freeman himself, by friends in his honor, or by the Patrons of Graphics, a collecting group he formed. The Richard B. Freeman Gallery on the second floor of the Museum was named in his honor, and is used as classroom space as well as for examining works on paper.

Educated at Yale and Harvard universities, Freeman worked in a number of prestigious museums including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, the Fogg Museum at Harvard, and the Cincinnati Art Museum in Ohio. He went on to pursue an academic career, coming to UK in 1957 and serving in the art department until 1974. 

Freeman appreciated and donated seventeenth- and nineteenth-century art to the Museum, but he was most excited about the flowering of printmaking and other graphic arts after World War II. In 1958, he began organizing an annual Graphics exhibition featuring contemporary artists who were experimenting with a wide range of techniques and approaches. He traveled across the United States and Europe seeking out new and experimental work and some of the Graphics shows traveled around the country. 

This exhibition features work by American, British, German, Hungarian, and Spanish artists, ranging in style from William Bailey’s exquisite drawing of a young woman; Lester Johnson’s expressionist Three Heads, Frontal; Paul Nash’s modernist landscape of standing stones; and Gabor Peterdi’s composition of vertical rocks, a marvel of sophisticated printing techniques and texture.

Lester Johnson, Three Heads Frontal, 1963, lithograph on paper. Collection of the UK Art Museum, gift of the Patrons of Graphics
Face Off: Patrick Smith with Victor Hammer

self portraits of two artistsNov 10, 2020 to Apr 3, 2021

Patrick Smith is a Lexington-based painter known for his realistic works on paper based on photographs he takes of various friends. These detailed works are informed by the artist's deep interest in the history of representational art, and his process of collaborating with his sitters on their poses, costume, makeup, and lighting. The resulting images are powerfully intimate, as heads and torsos that are often tattooed or pierced embody states of confrontation, vulnerability, and reverie. He has also consistently depicted himself, playing with assumptions about gender and exploring qualities of fragility and theatricality.  

Smith's paintings are presented in combination with several prints by the Austrian artist Victor Hammer (1882 – 1967) who came of age during the Vienna Secession—a period dominated by artists like Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. Hammer's works in different media are part of the UK Art Museum's collection. His mezzotint portraits depict his friends, including affluent individuals and diplomats, who—like the artist himself—were living in the complex and dangerous context of Europe in the 1930s. 

Both artists, while coming from distinct historical periods and points of view, share a painstaking attention to detail and a commitment to labor-intensive processes that give their depictions of unique human beings a profound humanity and intensity.  

In collaboration with the Museum, a solo exhibition of recent works by Patrick Smith will be on view at Institute 193 from November 18, 2020 - January 16, 2021. 

Left: Patrick Smith, Self Portrait in Fur, 2018. Acrylic on paper, gift of Stuart Horodner. Right: Victor Hammer, Portrait of Albrecht Graf Von Bernstorff, 1926. Mezzotint on paper, gift of Mrs. Carolyn Reading Hammer.
Larry Rivers: Boston Massacre

screen print of soldiersNov 10, 2020 to Apr 3, 2021

In 1970—two hundred years after a street fight between Massachusetts colonists and British Redcoats escalated into a riot that left five Americans dead on King Street in Boston—artist Larry Rivers revisited this pivotal event. In his portfolio of thirteen mixed media prints, Rivers drew on historic imagery from Paul Revere’s 1770 engraving The Bloody Massacre to comment on the social, cultural, and political tumult gripping America in 1970. This includes protests over the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the death of African Americans at the hands of those in power. Rivers’ Boston Massacre series is fifty years old but remains strikingly relevant, particularly as it deals with struggles between colonial powers and the people they subjugate, and between the establishment and protestors seeking profound change. Lines of British Redcoats reference Revere’s historic engraving, but the artist substitutes news images of wounded and dead Vietnamese people for American casualties. He uses newspaper photographs of the civil rights leader James Meredith writhing in pain on the ground after being repeatedly shot while leading a peaceful walk in support of voting rights in 1966. He directly links this to an imagined portrait of Crispus Attucks, a young dockworker believed to be of African and Native American ancestry, who was the first person killed in the Boston Massacre. One of the most startling prints, Ready-Aim, features a white man pointing a shotgun directly at us, the viewers. The man seems to be standing guard over a series of European architectural monuments, symbols of the Old World. It calls to mind recent images of protestors and American monuments in Washington D.C., and elsewhere in the country.

Larry Rivers, Red Coats - Mist from the series Boston Massacre, 1970, screen print on paper. Collection of the UK Art Museum, gift of Gerson Lazar.
Paul Sawyier: Kentucky Watercolors

watercolor landscapeOct 27, 2020 to Mar 20, 2021

Paul Sawyier’s deep roots in Kentucky have made him one of the state’s favorite artists. This exhibition features the atmospheric watercolors he made in and around his Frankfort home, as well as at other well-known locales in the region. Many will be familiar to viewers today.

Sawyier often revisited his favorite Frankfort subjects: the dappled shade of Louisville Hill in summer; the “singing bridge,” steeples of the county and federal courthouses, and Good Shepherd Church, viewed from the vantage point of the Frankfort City Cemetery; and the graceful architecture of the Old Capitol building. 

He often lived and worked on a houseboat on the Kentucky River between 1908 and 1913, frequently mooring at Shakertown or Camp Nelson, although he navigated the river to many sites. Sawyier and his love Mayme Bull often went canoeing on the river or the Elkhorn Creek east of Frankfort.  

Even after Sawyier moved to Brooklyn in 1913 to try to sell more work, he painted well-loved Kentucky scenes based on sketches he brought with him.

Paul Sawyier, Beyond the Hill (Singing Bridge, Frankfort, Kentucky), undated. Watercolor on paper, collection of the UK Art Museum. Bequest of John William Pruett, Jr.; The John William Pruett, Jr. Collection.
How 'Bout Them Cats

lion watercolorOct 27, 2020 to Mar 20, 2021

We have lions, leopards and lap cats, deranged kittens and glowering jungle cats. They are portrayed realistically, abstractly, and in stylized form in paintings, sculpture, prints, photography, and textiles. We realize these may not be UK’s favorite Cats, but in challenging times, we offer an alternative lineup with this exhibition of nineteenth- and twentieth-century art from the Museum’s collection. 

Work by three women—all trailblazers—offers a sense of the depth of How ’Bout Them Cats. Rosa Bonheur was a celebrated animalier artist in mid-nineteenth century France, famed for her naturalistic paintings and watercolors. Her subjects ranged from hens and sheep to the pair of lions portrayed in Royalty at Home; the latter were part of her personal menagerie. Wanda Gág was a pioneering illustrator and commercial artist, whose 1928 book Millions of Cats won the prestigious Newberry Medal and is credited with transforming the art of children’s picture books. Her prints, such as the homey Winter Garden, were extremely popular and widely collected. Alice Neel made deeply insightful portraits, often of family, friends, lovers, and artists. Her young granddaughter is pictured in Victoria and the Cat in a loving, but touchingly awkward image. 

Felines also appear in a Panamanian Mola textile; a rainbow striped portrait by Fluxus artist Ay-O; clutched by a runaway teen in a photograph from Bruce Davidson; and in three-dimensional work from Kentucky artists Steve Armstrong and Robert Lockhart. 

Rosa Bonheur, Royalty at Home, 1893, pen, ink, and watercolor on paper. Collection of the UK Art Museum. Gift from the Mr. and Mrs. James Wenneker Collection.
Jeanne Silverthorne: More Flesh and Bone

wood crateOct 6, 2020 to Feb 13, 2021

Jeanne Silverthorne is an acclaimed and influential New York-based artist whose works take their cue from the human body, as well as domestic and industrial items including lighting fixtures and bulbs, junction boxes, and various packing materials. For decades, she has thought of her studio as a generative site where acts of thinking, making, destroying, and accepting take place.  

More Flesh and Bone includes new works made of cast rubber, which gives them a decidedly fleshy feel. Crates of varying sizes (with cartoon-like nails and painted wood grain) serve as pedestals for a spinning globe, a pair of skeletons, burnt-out lightbulbs, and a small self-portrait. The combination of these works offers a meditation on time, human effort, and nagging questions of success and failure.

Jeanne Silverthorne, Crates with Skeletons, 2019, Platinum Silicone Rubber, Wood, and Paint. Courtesy of the artist.
Erika Larsen: Ritual for a Changing Planet

Jan 25, 2020 to Oct 10, 2020

Robert C. May: The Photographer

Jan 25, 2020 to Oct 24, 2020

A Celebration of Donors

Jan 25, 2020 to Oct 24, 2020

Susan King: Redressing the Sixties

Jan 25, 2020 to Sep 12, 2020

Body Language: Hunter Stamps and Mike Goodlett

Jan 25, 2020 to Sep 12, 2020

The Sketch: Willard Leroy Metcalf and Thomas Satterwhite Noble

Jan 25, 2020 to Mar 20, 2021

Cabinet of Wonder - Online

May 15, 2020 to Nov 1, 2020

This is America*

Oct 6, 2020 to Feb 13, 2021

image of person with mouth open and speech bubble says talkThis is America* is an exhibition originally planned to coincide with the 2020 presidential election, looking at aspects of history, citizenry, race, dignity, power, and struggle. In recent months, our country has been shaken by a global pandemic and waves of social unrest centered around issues of social justice and policing practices. Additional works have been added to reflect these conditions, and the exhibition is being dedicated to Representative John Lewis, the civil rights leader and U.S. Congressman who died on July 17, 2020.

America is a concept as much as a place. It is a promise written by founding fathers who were slave owners. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We hold these truths to be self-evident, but we've got some explaining to do. We have white picket fences and internment camps. America is exceptional, except when it isn't. America is the land of the free and the home of the brave, baseball, and apple pie. No justice, no peace. America is ritual and risk, haves and have nots, wide open spaces and too big to fail. From George Washington to George Floyd. Another day, another dollar. E pluribus unum and Don't tread on me. Leave the gun, take the cannoli. Why can't we all just get along?

In "Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation", an op-ed published in The New York Times on the day of his funeral, Lewis wrote, "Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself."

Putting oneself on the line by marching, speaking out, and educating others are ways that democracy is realized. Lewis continues, "Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key."

Art is another form of good trouble. This exhibition has been organized in that spirit, with the hope that the Museum can play a role as a safe space for the discussion of difficult topics and uncertain outcomes. Selections from our permanent collection, as well as art gathered from various studios, galleries, and private collections come together to create a dense environment that challenges the viewer to sort out their knowledge of, and feelings about, living in America at this volatile time.

Artists include Paul Stephen Benjamin, Louis Zoellar Bickett, Amber Boardman, Daniel Bozhkov, Mel Chin, Elliott Erwitt, Wendy Ewald, Robert Feintuch, Leon Golub, Mike Goodlett, Osvaldo Louis Guglielmi, Keith Haring, Jon Henry, Carolyn Hisel, Mike Howard, Lester Johnson, Reuben Kadish, Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe, Wayne Koestenbaum, Barbara Kruger, John Lackey, Donald Lipski, Frank Weathers Long, Gina Magid, Gordon Parks, Joseph Peragine, Alix Pearlstein and Suzanne McClelland, Kay Rosen, Wendy Bolton Rowland, Tad Savinar, Mira Schor, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Bonita Skaggs-Parsons, Aaron Skolnick, Gilbert Stuart, Sheldon Tapley, Tony Tasset, Frank X Walker, William Walmsley, Andy Warhol, Paul Weller, John Wesley, David Wischer, Jessica Wohl, and Michael Wong.

Image: Wendy Ewald, Talk, from the series African American Alphabet, 2000, gelatin silver print. Collection of the UK Art Museum, purchase: The Robert C. May Photography Fund.


The Exquisite Landscape

Craig LandscapeApr 20 2021 to Sep 18 2021

Curated by Lina Tharsing

For centuries, artists have sought to capture the wonder of nature, making variously realistic depictions or choosing to abstract and stylize the elements for their specific goals.   

This exhibition includes a selection of paintings, drawings, and prints from the Museum’s collection, that posit the landscape as a site of inspiration and awe. Dating from the 1780s to 1986, they feature dramatic lighting, resplendent trees and fields, and qualities of harmony and sublimity. 

Lina Tharsing is a Lexington-based artist whose landscape and still life paintings are often infused with a quality of transcendent light. Her works have been exhibited across the southeastern United States, and she has been featured in print and digital publications including Burnaway, Oxford American, and Whitehot Magazine. 

Image: William Craig, View on the Germantown Pike Overlooking Lawrence Creek near Maysville, Ky., Evening, 1865, oil on canvas. Collection of the UK Art Museum, gift in memory of William Earle Stilwell III. 
Treasures from the Ancient Middle East

Iranian painted bowlApr 20 2021 to Sep 18 2021

A collection of richly decorated bowls, cups, bottles, and tiles that date back to the sixth or seventh century highlight this exhibition. The work is now described as Iranian, was once labeled Persian, and represents a range of cultures in locales that include present-day Iran, Uzbekistan, Syria, and Turkey. Many of the ceramic vessels date from the ninth- to thirteenth-century, a period often described as a golden age in the region, which saw a flowering of literature, poetry, music, and the arts. They were a gift by Alice Heeramaneck following the death of her husband, Nisli Heeramaneck, a prominent collector of Asian art. 

Image: Iranian, Nishapur, Footed Bowl, 10-11th century, earthenware, polychrome painted under transparent glaze. Collection of the UK Art Museum, gift of Mrs. Alice Heeramaneck.

Brutus Killed Caesar ImageApr 6 2021 to Sep 18 2021

Unlike catalogs or monographs that showcase artworks created in another medium, the term "artists' books" refers to publications that have been conceived as artworks in their own right. They are often created to share ideas in an accessible form that is inexpensive to produce and easy to distribute. These works often combine image and text, and use shape, color, sequence, and juxtaposition as essential parts of the reading/viewing experience. This exhibition features a range of bookworks from the Museum's collection, by artists including Clifford Amyx, John Baldessari, Jackie Ferrara, Jenny Holtzer, Alan Kaprow, and Sol LeWitt. 

Image: John Baldessari, Brutus Killed Caesar (detail), 1976, black-and-white photo reproduction on paper, spiral bound. Collection of the UK Art Museum, purchase: Art Museum Funds. 
Intersections: Gifts from Henry V. Heuser, Jr.

Monochrome photograph of rolling hillsApr 6 2021 to Sep 18 2021

Intersections gives a very small taste of the wonderful photographs that are part of a recent gift from Henry V. Heuser, Jr. Work by Michael Burns, Keith Carter, Mark Klett, and David Plowden examine nature and the landscape mediated by the impact of human existence. Imagery ranges from the contours of cultivated fields, to the engineering marvels of bridges spanning rivers, children interacting with the natural world, and serene landscapes of the American West, marked by contemporary life. 

Image: Michael Burns, Near Pullman, Washington, 1976, gelatin silver print. Collection of the UK Art Museum, gift of Henry V. Heuser, Jr., Louisville, KY. 
Hermann Kätelhön: Das Werk Arbeit

Etching of coal miners working underground.Apr 6 2021 to Sep 18 2021

For more than two decades—from 1918 to 1940—Herman Kätelhön worked in and around Essen, Germany, making images of coal mining, steel works, and the growing impact of industrialization on the landscape. The striking graphic images—woodcuts, etchings, and lithographs—testify to his virtuosity as a printmaker, as well as his determination to make a portrait of the Ruhr region and the laborers whose skill and toil were essential to the effort. A literal translation of Das Werk Arbeit—Work [about] Work—does not capture the essence of its meaning, which comprises the notion of both industry and labor. There are moving are portraits and claustrophobic scenes of  miners underground as well as accurate depictions of ground level structures in the Ruhr, the center of Germany’s industrial might in both world wars. The portfolio was donated to UK by Robert Estill, who served as chairman of UK/US Coal Control Group, that oversaw coal mining in the Ruhr region after World War II. 

Image: Hermann Kätelhön, Am Gesenk (At the Blind Shaft), undated, etching on paper. Collection of the UK Art Museum, gift of Robert R. Estill. 
Sew What: Jessie Dunahoo, Elana Herzog, Ben Venom

Variety of grocery bags stitched togetherMar 16 2021 to Jul 10 2021

This exhibition brings together three distinct artists who share a love of common materials (fabric, clothing, rugs, plastic bags) and an urge to investigate their potential as component parts of larger objects and installations. Their completed works offer meditations on the history of assemblage, especially aspects of recycling, labor, and time.

Jessie Dunahoo was a Lexington artist who was born deaf and additionally lost his vision at a young age. That didn't prevent him from making elaborate art and environments with found materials around his home. As an adult, he worked five days a week at Latitude Artist Community, a local studio facility that provides art and creative outlets for individuals with disabilities. His sewn-together works present shifting areas of color, texture, language, and transparency.

Elana Herzog consistently makes and unmakes objects, ripping and cutting textiles and carpets and situating them in and against specific gallery and museum architecture. For the last two decades, she has reveled in creating immersive situations that obliterate distinctions between old and new, common and precious, in process and completed. She states, "Speed, labor, progress, obsolescence, loss, kitsch, camp, nostalgia, sentimentality, taste…there are too many clichés out there for what I and other women artists do."

Ben Venom combines the processes and aesthetics of quilt making with the robust graphics of heavy metal and punk music, tattoo culture, and heraldry. His large wall hangings utilize fragments of t-shirts from bands like Iron Maiden, AC/DC, and Poison, along with swatches of denim and other fabrics. Together, these form a complicated code switching between gendered traditions and unique sub-cultures.

"Jessie Dunahoo's reality as a deaf and blind man, did not stop him from creating sculptures by touch, sewing together plastic shopping bags, scraps of fabric, and other items that were collected for him. Elana Herzog makes reference to the history of art, industry, and domestic traditions by cutting, stacking, and splicing distinct rugs and carpets from around the world into unique arrangements. Ben Venom has been called a 'punk rock quilter' because of the band-related T-shirts he uses, as well as the rebellious attitude he brings to this traditional sewing activity," UK Art Museum Director Stuart Horodner said. "The exhibition examines the use of recycled and referential materials, and the different ways that artists orient their own physical, emotional and cultural situations."

Image: Jessie Dunahoo, Untitled, circa 2010-15, plastic bags, fabric samples, and thread. Courtesy of the Estate of Jessie Dunahoo and Institute 193.
Come Together: Assemblage and Collage from the Collection

Multimedia collageMar 16 2021 to Jul 10 2021

Organized to provide a deeper context for the "Sew What" exhibition, this installation features examples of drawing, painting and sculpture that are the result of gathering various materials and combining them in distinct ways. 

Collage and assemblage are construction practices that go back hundreds of years but are associated with the 20th-century activities of artists including Pablo Picasso, Jean Dubuffet, Joseph Cornell, Hannah Höch, Louise Nevelson and Robert Rauschenberg, to name a few. 

"Come Together" features work by artists in the UK Art Museum's permanent collection who are part of this tradition, including Raymond Barnhart, William Bayer, Bruce Burris, Christo, Robert Morgan, Robert Motherwell, Judith Page, Antoni Tapies and others. 

Bruce Burris, toxifying appylachia jeezus warshedtheseft 800years ago, 2018, acrylic, pencil, gouache, marker, pen, and collaged elements on paper.


Sally Davies: New Yorkers

Oct 12 2021 to Mar 19 2022

person sitting in green roomArtist Sally Davies is well known for tightly composed and keenly observed images capturing the visual rhythms of Manhattan, but in her recent series, New Yorkers, she ventures behind closed doors to make portraits of long-time city dwellers inside their often tiny and idiosyncratic apartments. Some spaces are spare and elegant; others are jam-packed with curated collections ranging from art and books to refrigerator magnets and Pez dispensers. Dogs and cats abound and claw-foot tubs in the kitchen are not unusual. Her book of the series was released on April 1 and is already in a second printing after attracting international attention and selling out in two days.

Davies’s work has been featured in a variety of publications including the book Masters of Street Photography (2019), the New York Times, the Guardian in Great Britain, and the Huffington Post and Slate online. Her photographs are part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum of the City of New York, and the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Her archive is now part of the Downtown Collection of Fales Library at New York University.


Oct 12 2021 to Mar 19 2022

rainbow print of soldier on horseSome printmakers have spent their entire lives creating reproductions of the paintings or sculptures created by others. Many artists have been inspired by famed predecessors whose work influenced their own in a variety of ways. It was once common to commission portraits memorializing loved ones—or famous figures—following their deaths. This three-gallery exhibition drawn from the permanent collection explores these and more meanings of the word “after” in the world of art. 

The exhibition includes etchings, engravings, and lithographs made after the work of such luminaries as Flemish artist Peter Paul Ruben, known for his Baroque exuberance; the American painter Gilbert Stuart, known for multiple portraits of George Washington; or John Constable, the Romantic English landscapist. Prints were often commissioned by the original artists to boost both their fame and bank accounts. The versatile printmakers who translated oil paintings and sculptures into black-and-white prints not only reproduced the composition, but captured the aesthetics and intentions of their fellow artists. 

The Japanese avant-garde artist Ay-O was intrigued by a series of naïve eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American paintings; he appropriated the subjects and compositions of the paintings but reimagined them in rainbow stripes that certainly would have shocked the original painters. Pop artist Jim Dine made a series of haunting images based on a German collection of Greek and Roman sculptures. They are not literal reproductions; in his hands, the figures seem eerily alive. Mary Ann Currier and David Hockney inserted postcards of work by Paul Gauguin and John Constable into their contemporary still-life compositions to pay tribute to nineteenth-century figures they admired. 

The long tradition of religious art representing the death and resurrection of Christ in a myriad of forms, along with more personal memorials, are included here. In a similar manner, After pays tribute to the many artists whose names are not recognized today, but whose skill brought the work of others to life. It recognizes that no art is made in a vacuum, and that past lives live on in more recent art in a myriad of forms. 

Spaces - Bodies - Objects

Oct 12 2021 - Mar 19 2022

Bookworks II

Oct 12 2021 - Mar 19 2022

Todd Hido: The Poetry of Darkness

Jan 18 - June 4 2022

Brilliant Illusions: Crafted Forms by Li Hongwei

Jan 18 - June 4 2022

Created 10/11/2021
Last Updated 03/15/2023