SUM Artists: Visual Diagrams & Systems-Based Explorations, works by 30 artists and artist collectives, will open on Saturday, Feb. 15, at the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art. The exhibition presents several generations of artists who, in sum, investigate and visualize divergent subjects of pressing concern — the arts, culture, history, race, gender, politics, economics, humanities, transportation, and the quotidian, among others — through the process of data visualization. Featuring recent and historical artworks across a broad array of mediums, the exhibition explores how artists approach the organization of information, primarily through charts, maps, diagrams, and lists from the mundane to the absurd.
A reception will be held on Saturday, Feb. 15, from 4 to 6 p.m. The exhibition and reception are free and open to the public.
“As a teaching museum on a college campus, we are incredibly excited about the multitude of opportunities the show presents, from its emphasis on books and the humanities to its scientific references, to its political content,” said Tracy Adler, the Johnson-Pote Director of the Wellin Museum of Art. “The works remind us how idiosyncratic the organization and presentation of facts are. With the process of creating a system, the assumption is that its content is empirically mined, when in reality, the raw data and resulting system remain interpretive. It points directly to this era of fake news, in that something that can appear truthful doesn’t necessarily mean that it is fact.”
Among the highlights of the exhibition are:
- Mary Beth Edelson’s now legendary hand-colored lithograph Some Living American Women / Last Supper (1972), in which the artist collaged the faces of preeminent yet under-recognized female artists atop those of Jesus Christ and his apostles in Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic painting The Last Supper, thereby creating her own artistic pantheon and
- RYAN! Elizabeth Feddersen’s wall installation Kill the Indian, Save the Man (2017–present), which exhaustively maps the 19th- and 20th-century Indian boarding schools that were established in the United States to assimilate Native American children, with devastating, indelible cultural repercussions.
The exhibition also presents archival materials, in contrast to these contemporary works, on loan from the Hamilton College Library Special Collections, dating from the late 17th to the mid-20th centuries. They include works charting the history of religion (1817–1894) and illustrating the principals of mystics and philosophers who outlined the levels toward ascension (1686–1761), among others.
SUM Artists is curated by Matthew Deleget and Rossana Martínez, who work as visual artists, educators, and collaborative arts professionals. In 2003, they founded the innovative Brooklyn gallery MINUS SPACE, which presents a roster of international artists.
"This exhibition is intended to be examined, dissected, questioned, and discussed," explain Deleget and Martínez. "The subject matter of the show is wide-ranging and particularly current, investigating persistent issues around gender, race, equity, money, power, politics, history, and culture. It also dives into more esoteric topics, such as transportation, psychopathy, criticism, spirituality, and much more."
Participating artists include Elisabetta Benassi, Vincent Como, Jennifer Dalton, Theo Deutinger, David Diao, Mary Beth Edelson, RYAN! Elizabeth Feddersen, Daniel Feral, Richard Garrison, the Guerrilla Girls, Alfred Jensen, Mike Mills & Experimental Jetset, Loren Munk, Eadweard Muybridge, John O’Connor, Wendy Red Star, Faith Ringgold, Leslie Roberts, Dread Scott, Ward Shelley, Batia Suter, Athena Tacha, Massimo Vignelli (with Joan Charysyn and Bob Noorda of Unimark International Corporation), and John Zinsser.
Additional Public Programming related to this exhibition at the Wellin Museum:
Wednesday, Feb. 19, 4:30 p.m.
Artists in Conversation: curators Matthew Deleget and Rossana Martinez, and artist Loren Munk
Thursday, Feb. 20, 4:30 p.m.
Gallery Tour with curators Matthew Deleget and Rossana Martinez
Tuesday, March 10, 5 to 6 p.m.
Johnson-Pote Director Tracy L. Adler will lead a tour of the exhibition.
Monday, April 6, 4:30 p.m.
Roehrick Lecture: artist Wendy Red Star