Jenifer P. Borum

  • William Edmondson

    “Miracles,” which brought together 36 works by the sculptor William Edmondson (ca. 1882–1951), was the first solo show of this self-taught artist’s work to be mounted in 20 years. A Tennessee native, Edmondson was active from approximately 1931–49; he was not only the first black artist to be honored with a solo show at MoMA, but he was also the first American self-taught artist to make his mark on the mainstream. It remains rather puzzling, then, that apart from a number of recent survey shows, and the support of a few devotees, Edmondson’s work has remained in the shadows despite the current

  • Mary Lucier

    Through a rich interweaving of different media, Mary Lucier’s Last Rites (Positano), 1995, reconstructed a distant moment of her recently deceased mother’s past. Lucier transformed the gallery into a dramatically lit, cavernous space, and filled it with speakers, video monitors, her mother’s furniture, and photographs. The result was less a testament to the loss of her mother than to the mechanisms of memory itself.

    At the center of Last Rites was a narrative of adventure, romance, and tragedy: Lucier’s mother, Margaret Glosser, an Ohio native, traveled abroad as a young woman, met and fell in

  • “Art of the Other Mexico”

    Dedicated to César Chávez, “Art of the Other Mexico: Sources and Meanings” examined the complexities of bicultural identity through 70 new and recent works by 20 artists. The common denominator here was a focus on the rich traditions of Mexican visual culture: contemporary Chicano experience was explored through the recuperation of Mexican folk, religious, and urban traditions. While in the late ’60s this strategy of cultural reclamation was viewed as a direct form of resistance to the dominant Anglo culture, today such fervid political agendas have been replaced by the more amorphous goals of

  • “Looky Loo” and “High Anxiety”

    Since the early ’90s, Kenny Schachter has staged consistently edgy group shows, typically for brief periods and usually in transitional spaces. Late last spring, two exhibitions showcased his signature, low-concept approach to curating: “Looky Loo,” held at an established nonprofit space uptown, and “High Anxiety,” at a temporary downtown site.

    “Looky Loo” presented works with no pretensions to the status of high art by seven artists with a penchant for drawing out the beauty of the ephemeral. All seven pieces reflected the low-budget esthetic favored by Schachter: an unlikely mix of sophisticated

  • Jacob Lawrence

    Three recent shows together comprised the first retrospective view of Jacob Lawrence’s work in nearly a decade, offering a welcome reevaluation of his oeuvre. This impressive showing of 118 paintings testified to Lawrence’s ability to communicate with both art-world and non-art-world audiences—a quality that has predictably compromised his place in the still narrowly defined Modernist canon.

    Perhaps Lawrence’s ambiguous position in the history of American art has something to do with the fact that his series “The Migration of the Negro,” 1941, completed when he was just 24, met with a critical

  • Nancy Azara

    Part of the first wave of artists that began to explore feminist issues in earnest, Nancy Azara creates sculptures, from wood and found objects, that simultaneously evoke a mythical, pre-Christian era in an attempt to posit a collective feminine identity. Reflecting a kind of feminism that now seems quaint, if not simplistic, Azara’s project challenges patriarchal Western paradigms through the archetypal, Jungian-based notion of the goddess.

    Two galleries featured Azara’s monumental “altars”: freestanding constructions fashioned of hand-carved wood, painted and covered with weathered gold leaf.

  • Thornton Dial

    Prior to his simultaneous solo museum shows in 1993, at the New Museum and the Museum of American Folk Art, few outside the relatively insular folk-art world were familiar with the work of Thornton Dial. By the late ’80s, Dial had gained a respectable following for his unique brand of funk assemblage—a homegrown art form that came to be celebrated as emblematic of a Southern, African-American sculptural vernacular. To the horror of folk purists, consistent patronage has allowed Dial to explore media not generally available to a self-taught artist in rural Alabama. Since 1990, he has moved from

  • Robert Younger

    Reflecting an idiosyncratic approach to sculpture developed over two decades, Robert Younger’s most recent installation took the form of a walk-in rebus. It looked like a playroom dreamed up by a somewhat troubled kindergartner during nap time.

    Sprawling through two, relatively large rooms, Younger’s ensemble of odd constructions—made of cast-off objects and rough, unfinished materials—formed an allegorical universe, with its own obliquely demarcated earth, sky, habitats, and modes of transportation and communication. A snapshot of Younger wearing a metal dish cover on his head, and a roughly

  • Lonnie Holley

    Lonnie Holley works in an environment-cum-studio situated on the outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama—a dense jungle comprised of lyrical, twisted wire shapes, colorful acrylic paintings, industrial sandstone carvings, and weathered assemblages constructed from found objects and materials. A young, self-taught innovator within what Robert Farris Thompson has identified as the vernacular African-American traditions of cemetery decoration, the yard show, and the bottle tree, Holley has forged a sophisticated visual vocabulary that works to bridge the arbitrary divide between the mainstream and the

  • Luis Caballero

    Neither a retrospective nor a showcase of new work, Luis Caballero’s show of large-scale oils on paper and smaller ink and charcoal drawings—all relatively monochromatic variations on the male nude—provided what initially seemed like an arbitrary slice of this Columbian expatriate’s oeuvre. Given that Caballero has been working in this mode for almost twenty-five years, however, this selection of pieces actually functioned as a survey of the artist’s midcareer work.

    Caballero combines an eclectic, academic naturalism with an Expressionist bent that sometimes approaches pathos. His focus on the

  • Manuel Ocampo

    Manuel Ocampo’s solo debut in New York was a vivid send-up of his native Philippines, particularly the role of the Catholic Church in a culture that has brought us, among other spectacles, Imelda’s famous shoe-filled room. The 13 relatively large paintings featured here, aptly titled “Stations of the Cross,” (all works 1994) formed a blasphemous send-up of Catholic excess, particularly the pious self-mortification practiced yearly by penitent Filipinos who reenact each of the Fourteen Stations of the Cross—including the crucifixion, nails and all.

    Although often presented within the context of

  • “Asia/America”

    Presenting the work of 20 artists hailing from eight different Asian nations, “Asia/America: Identities in Contemporary AsianAmerican Art” was an articulate response to the failure of the art world to adopt a truly multicultural agenda. In her catalogue essay, curator Margo Machida charges that the existing system has not yet addressed the very complicated questions that surround identity for contemporary Asian-American artists. With this show, Machida attempted to reflect the diversity of the Asian-American scene, refusing to present either a forced homogeneity or to cater to pervasive Western