Deconstruction and reconstruction are at the heart of a new exhibition at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke.
“Positive Fragmentation: From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation” features prints by contemporary women artists who use fragmentation as a creative process.
The exhibition features more than 180 works and focuses on artists who are women, nonbinary and people of color. The collection aligns with the desire of the museum to promote diversity and variety, said Karl Willers, chief curator at the Taubman.
“We constantly try for diversity within our programming — bringing both historical shows and contemporary exhibitions, as well as art from American culture and different explorations of creative practices around the world,” Willers said.
Before coming to Roanoke, “Positive Fragmentation” was on view at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. It was curated by Virginia Treanor, senior curator, and Kathryn Wat, deputy director for art, programs and public engagement and chief curator at the Washington museum.
The term “positive fragmentation” was coined by feminist scholar and critic Lucy Lippard, according to the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ website. In a 1978 essay titled “Making Something from Nothing,” Lippard talks about the gender discrimination that separates the concepts of “high” art and “hobby” art.
According to Lippard, positive fragmentation — or the “collage aesthetic” — is suited for profiles such as those of historically marginalized artists, because it “willfully takes apart what is or is supposed to be and rearranges it in ways that suggest what it could be.”
Among the artists featured in the exhibition is Caledonia Curry, known as Swoon. According to Willers, the contemporary artist is recognized as a pioneer in her style of public art. Her work gives a new dimension to the idea of public art through the use of unusual elements such as doors and windows, and she is known for her “immersive installations and multi-year community-based projects” and for her exploration of human complexity and equity, according to her website.
Also featured in the show is Wendy Red Star, a Native artist who belongs to the Apsáalooke (Crow) tribe, and whose work puts forward elements of her own identity, Willers said. With pieces such as “Yakima or Yakama — Not For Me To Say,” the artist invites her audience to a world of colors, patterns and pieces.
“Positive Fragmentation” is an opportunity for the Taubman to present the work of women and nonbinary artists over recent generations, and it offers an overview of both “feminists’ concerns and other concerns back into the mid 20th century” — concerns that are up-to-date with very contemporary ones, Willers said. Additionally, he said, the exhibition provides insight into what’s often called second-generation feminism of the 1970s.
The official celebration of the exhibition will take place this weekend in conjunction with the Roanoke Arts Pop festival, which is largely centered at the Taubman. A conversation about the exhibition with the art collector, the collection curator and some of the artists will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday at the museum. The event is free, but registration is recommended. Visit www.taubmanmuseum.org for more information.
“Positive Fragmentation” runs through May 14.