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Crystal Bridges’ New ‘State of the Art’ Exhibit


State of the Art

From the landscapes and portraits of colonial times through pop art and other work from more modern periods, the museum’s permanent collection is a pretty good representative cross-section of American art history.

With the museum’s latest exhibit, however, curators have assembled a collection of work intended to answer the question, “What’s happening in American art right now?”

“The exhibition is a call to action, both within the field and beyond, to pay more attention to the artists around us, and what they have to say.”

State of the Art attempts to answer that question. The exhibit, which opened in mid-September and runs through January 2015, features more than 200 pieces by 102 contemporary artists representing every region in the county.

“Contemporary art has too often been dismissed as ‘Something a child could do,’ or — worse — irrelevant,” said museum president Don Bacigalupi. “Contemporary artists live and work among us. We can learn so much about the past and other cultures from art. It’s been a lifelong passion and responsibility for me to expand access and understanding of the valuable and important communications embedded within the art of our own time.

“The exhibition is a call to action, both within the field and beyond, to pay more attention to the artists around us, and what they have to say,” he said.

Museum curators logged more than 100,000 miles crisscrossing the country to visit nearly 1,000 potential artists for the collection. Their hope is to provide exposure for some emerging artists that haven’t been discovered on a national scale.

The resulting exhibit, which is the largest in both scope and scale that the museum has ever produced, includes artists from areas not traditionally thought of as art-producing.

“Overlooked places like Wichita, San Antonio, Pittsburgh, and Las Vegas have rich and textured artscapes,” said Crystal Bridges Curator Chad Alligood. “I am changed because of each encounter with the artists and their work. Art lies in the feeling of being changed; through this exhibition, we hope to bring that to our audiences.”

Admission to the exhibit is free, and no tickets or reservations are required.

The museum will hold a symposium on State of the Art next month, featuring two days of artist talks, panel discussions, and lectures on Nov. 14 and 15. The symposium is also free to attend, but online registration is required.

With over 200 pieces represented in the show, State of the Art is really something you have to see for yourself to truly appreciate.

Here are some of the works that stood out to us when we visited the exhibit.

Slow Room – Jonathan Schipper

One of the most memorable pieces in the exhibit is an installation by Brooklyn artist Jonathan Schipper called Slow Room.

Jonathan Schipper Slow Room - Crystal Bridges - State of the Art
Slow Room / Photo: Dustin Bartholomew

The work features a living room with furniture, plants, lamps and pictures all tied to pieces of string that are slowly being pulled into a hole in the wall. The items are pulled so slowly that their movement is imperceptible, but over time, everything in the room will become intertwined, interlaced, and sometimes destroyed.

“Ultimately, no matter how sure anybody is about where we came from or where we’re going, it’s still a mystery,” Schipper said. We know that we’re born, we’re going to die, and every second we’re getting closer to that inevitable death. Slow Room focuses not only on the end but on that process of being moved from one state to another.”

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Dustin Bartholomew is the co-founder of Fayetteville Flyer, an online publication covering all things news, art and life in Fayetteville, Arkansas since 2007. A graduate of the Department of English at the University of Arkansas and a lifelong resident of the area, he still lives in east Fayetteville with his son Hudson, daughter Evelyn, his wife Brandy, and his two dogs Lily and Steve. On occasion, he tickles the ivories in a local band called The Good Fear.

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