Calder and Contemporary Art: Using the Familiar

  • Edlis Neeson Theater
    First Floor, Accessible via the Griffin Entrance on Pearson Street
    220 E Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

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How do artists see the familiar anew, and how can viewers do the same? In this opening conversation, MCA Curator Lynne Warren engages artists Jason Meadows and Jason Middlebrook, and Calder Foundation registrar and scholar Jessica Holmes in a discussion about creative reuse in sculpture, relating contemporary methods of art making to Calder's process and work.

About the Speakers

Lynne Warren is curator at the MCA, where she has organized over 25 solo exhibitions of artists ranging from Robert Heinecken: Photographist (1999) to Dan Peterman: Plastic Economies (2004) to her most recent exhibition, Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance, Joy. She served as the project director for Art in Chicago, 1945–1995 exhibition (1996), which produced the first comprehensive book of Chicago's unique art history; and as the project director and curator of the H. C. Westermann exhibition and catalogue raisonné projects. She was the curator-in-charge for the MCA presentation of Gordon Matta-Clark: You Are the Measure (2008) and organized the exhibition Everything's Here in conjunction with the MCA's exhibition Jeff Koons (2008). Her publications are wide-ranging and numerous, including more than 30 exhibition catalogues published by the MCA and contributions to numerous other catalogues and art historical books.

Jason Meadows, a mix-media artist based in Los Angeles, is one of the seven contemporary artists feature in the exhibition Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance and Joy. He received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and his MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles, and since 1997 has exhibited his work in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, London, Milan, and Athens. Characterized by a put-together quality, his sculptures combine abstract gesture, iconic subjects and common, everyday materials. These include sculptures of Greek mythological beings composed of particle board, a Spiderman constructed from basketball nets that represent the superhero's characteristic web-slinging ability, and works inspired by Frankenstein, among many others. With his sculpture, Meadows also explores the idea of functionality, reconfiguring or recreating everyday objects from materials that are decidedly unsophisticated and in ways that deny their implied purpose.

Jason Middlebrook's sculptural commission for the MCA's atrium is part the exhibition Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance and Joy. A versatile artist, Middlebrook's work includes sculpture, drawings, and site-specific installations that address man's relationship to the natural landscape and explore notions of waste, refuse, and reuse. In previous projects such as a recent one in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans, he has sought to reclaim discarded materials in order to create art and objects of use to the local community. A graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute and the Whitney Independent Study Program, Middlebrook lives and works in Hudson, New York. His work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions, commissions and temporary installations in the United States and internationally.

Jessica Holmes is deputy director of the Calder Foundation. She lectures frequently on Calder-related topics, and is the author of A Broc is a Beautiful Thing: Calder's Domestic Treasures published in the exhibition catalogue Simplicity of Means: Calder and the Devised Object (2007). She is also a contributor to the monograph Calder Jewelry (2007) and has written about the topic for the magazine Antiques. She lives in New York.