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SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Summer Partnership with IndyGo

IndyGo Youth PassGreat news for parents looking for some extra time this summer and teens looking for a little independence. The IMA has partnered with IndyGo to offer a Summer Youth Pass with added IMA perks! When purchasing an IndyGo Summer Youth Pass, children and teens—ages 18 and under—can hop aboard the bus and ride to museums, the zoo, the movies, a ball game, the mall and other destinations throughout Marion County from June 1 to August 31 for only $30. That’s summer-long transportation at a price lower than the cost of a tank of gas for most vehicles! A gas and money-saver, the Summer Youth Pass is also a great opportunity to discuss the environmental benefits of taking the bus while also teaching your children how to responsibly navigate through public transportation, a life-long valuable lesson.

So, where does the IMA fit in?

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Filed under: Local, Thornton Dial, Travel

 

We Need to Talk

Have you been to see the Hard Truths exhibition?  Spent time with it? I pose the latter question because absorbing what is present in the works  requires time to linger. On my most recent viewing, it was Heaven and Hell on Earth that drew me in for deeper consideration. Depth, density, layers of meaning and complexity. There is so much there.  It takes time and it’s worth it.

"Heaven and Hell on Earth," 1995. Corn husks, corncobs, dried mushrooms, roots, burned wood, clothing, bedding, toys, wire, metal, fabric, Christmas tree ornament, rope, carpet, paintbrush, other found materials, oil, enamel, spray paint, and industrial sealing compound on canvas on wood. Collection of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.

In the same way, to talk about Thornton Dial, to consider the artist’s place both removed from and edging into the mainstream art world, to put into context his work and view of the world, and relate it to broader truths about American art, culture, history,  and values—it’s an exciting  and meaningful challenge.  But Rome wasn’t built in a lunch hour lecture.  So we’re giving it a day.

This Friday at the Toby is the big event:  Hard Truths: A Forum on Art and the Politics of Difference.  It’s not a straight-forward symposium.  There will be a podium, yes, and a succession of first-rate deep thinkers who will approach the topics of the day from a variety of fascinating perspectives.  But discussion sessions will also keep things very lively.

For example, Julian Bond, American civil rights all-star, will connect Dial’s experience and presentation as a black artist to the history, present, and future of the modern civil rights movement. Bond will then go straight from the podium into a conversation with forum speaker Greg Tate (his talk title: Neo-hoodoo Imaginations and Hollering Bebop Ghosts in the Southern Black Visionary Tradition). Important thinkers from the local community have also been invited, such as Roderick E. Bohannan, attorney with Indiana Legal Services, Inc., who will join Bond and Tate onstage. Audience members will be welcome to join in. IUPUI professor Modupe Labode will moderate these open discussions.  It’s fair to anticipate a slew of audience members with arms up in the air ready for the next available microphone. And each session’s speaker and discussions with take the conversation down another exciting path.

Moving from one talk to the next, we may find ourselves wishing for a moment to return to a topic that was deferred due to time. There will be great opportunities to revisit. First among these: included with the forum ticket is admission to the Dial exhibition. I’m telling you, you need more time in there. Later, after a nice break for dinner, Forum speaker Theaster Gates and ensemble The Black Monks of Mississippi will take the stage (again, included with the forum ticket) to perform And the Whole Yard Said Amen in response to Dial and the day. What happens when you intertwine the sounds and moods of southern gospel and eastern chanting and add a layer of blues? Come and find out. To further celebrate all this, we’ll next move from the Toby to a catered reception in the museum’s Nourish Café. Great conversations will recommence.

Hope to see you there. We need to talk.

 

We need to talk

Have you been to see the Hard Truths exhibition (link/photo opps in bold)? Spent time with it? I pose the latter question because absorbing what is present in any of the ## works you’ll find there requires time to linger. On my most recent viewing, it was Heaven and Hell on Earth that drew me in for deeper consideration. Depth, density, layers of meaning and complexity. There is so much there. It takes time and it’s worth it.

In the same way, to talk about Thornton Dial, to consider the artist’s place both removed from and edging into the mainstream art world, to put into context his work and view of the world, and relate it to broader truths about American art, culture, history, and values—it’s an exciting and meaningful challenge. But Rome wasn’t built in a lunch hour lecture. So we’re giving it a day.

This Friday at the Toby is the big event: Hard Truths: A Forum on Art and the Politics of Difference. It’s not a straight-forward symposium. There will be a podium, yes, and a succession of first-rate deep thinkers (to forum page) who will approach the topics of the day from a variety of fascinating perspectives. But discussion sessions will also keep things very lively.

For example, Julian Bond, American civil rights all-star will connect Dial’s experience and presentation as a black artist to the history, presentation, and future of the modern civil rights movement. Bond will then go straight from the podium into a conversation with forum speaker Greg Tate (his talk title: Neo-hoodoo Imaginations and Hollering Bebop Ghosts in the Southern Black Visionary Tradition). Important thinkers from the local community have also been invited, such as Roderick E. Bohannan, attorney with Indiana Legal Services, Inc., who will join Bond and Tate onstage. Audience members will be welcome to join in. IUPUI professor Modupe Labode (Link to her post)will moderate these open discussions. It’s fair to anticipate a slew of audience members with arms up in the air ready for the next available microphone. And each session’s speaker and discussions with take the conversation down another exciting path.

Moving from one talk to the next, we may find ourselves wishing for a moment to return to a topic deferred due to time. There will be great opportunities to revisit. First among these: included with the forum ticket is admission to the Dial exhibition. I’m telling you, you need more time in there. Later, after a nice break for dinner, Forum speaker Theaster Gates and ensemble The Black Monks of Mississippi will take the stage (again, included with the forum ticket) to perform And the Whole Yard Said Amen in response to Dial and the day. What happens when you intertwine the sounds and moods of southern gospel and eastern chanting and add a layer of blues? Come and find out. To further celebrate all this, we’ll next move from the Toby to a catered reception at the museum’s Nourish Café. Great conversations will recommence.

Hope to see you there. We need to talk.

Filed under: Exhibitions, Local, Public Programs, The Toby, Thornton Dial

 

TAP Me In

“Life has been rough with me, how it been with you?” Thornton Dial questions me through headphones as I enter the first room of Hard Truths. “Well, pretty rough too.” I think to myself, hoping Mr. Dial and myself can find more things in common. “Life is rough with everybody,” he says. “We all have had a hard time. If you got a million dollars you still got a hard time in life because it ain’t nothing easy.” I agree with Dial, but I still want a million dollars.

A visitor to "Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial" using the TAP tour.

Today I’m trying out our hand-held TAP tour. The TAP tour is a mix of audio, video and picture content on an iPod Touch. It guides patrons through the exhibition, giving them additional information to enhance the experience. I did my best to read every label, give every painting a sufficient amount of time, and listen to each sound bite, but that’s not necessary. If the exhibition is laid out well (just as this one was) then you flow through it, feeling a slight current supporting you the entire way.

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Filed under: Exhibitions, New Media, Technology, Thornton Dial

 

Welcome Mat

Our guest blogger today is Modupe Labode, Assistant Professor of History and Museum Studies and a Public Scholar of African American History and Museums at IUPUI. She writes about the current exhibition, "Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial."

"Everybody's Welcome in Peckerwood City," 2005, Doormat, cardboard, wood doors, steel, tin, bed frame, wire fencing, cloth, wood, towel, enamel, and spray paint Collection of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation. (front)

When I first saw this piece, it stood out because it was so different from the dense thickness of Thornton Dial’s other works. The series of doors are almost playful and are painted in green, blue, and white.  There is even a welcome mat before one of the doors. The work brings to mind the fabled tradition of Southern hospitality, in which no one is made to feel a stranger. Going to the other side of the work I was faced with a tangle of raw wood, wires, nails, boards, and rags. Two strange red and white figures creep amidst the disorder. It is only when I returned to the other side of the work that I saw an ominous pool of red, seemingly oozing from behind the doors.

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Filed under: Exhibitions, Guest Bloggers, Thornton Dial

 

You Light Up My Life

“The pieces are dense,” Carol Cody, the IMA’s Lighting Designer, and I look down at her lighting plan for Hard Truths. “Visually, physically, conceptually—they’re dense.”

And it’s true. All of Dial’s paintings are 3-D so they present lighting challenges your average still life wouldn’t; but this exhibition makes no claims of being average and Carol has been doing lighting for 13 years. In fact, nearly every single light throughout the IMA galleries has been personally screwed-in by Carol Cody—that’s a lot of bulbs.

Dial’s show alone has around 500 fixtures. These lamps are chosen and adjusted after the pieces have been installed, giving it a final touch. Every light has a filter and Carol layers screens over lamps to dim them. She is part of the process from the beginning. The Lighting Designer has to collaborate with everyone else on the exhibition to “tell the story” as best as possible.

Carol took expert care in washing warm light into the room filled with work depicting the Southern Past. Bright light further excites Dial’s tributes to African American Yard Art and the creative spirit. Dimmer lamps kept the mood of the drawings room more restful. “I angled the light at the floor, with the light wood you get a lot of bounce and that way it doesn’t affect the art as much.”

Light exposure can degrade a piece of art, that’s why it’s regulated so closely and why you can’t take flash photography in a museum. Part of Carol’s job is understanding the conservation issues surrounding a work. The most difficult things to light are textiles and paper, because they’re more delicate and can fade. The easiest things to light are objects, especially stone or metal, which are hardier.

The role of lighting, as I understand, is to best display the message that is already being communicated. It takes care, precision and an aerial lift. Carol designs the lighting, as well as maintains it. With 10,000 square feet in the special exhibitions space alone, it’s a big job. But she keeps us out of the dark one bulb at a time.

Filed under: Exhibitions, IMA Staff, Installation, Thornton Dial

 

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