Arts & Culture

UK Art Museum's Three New Shows Focus on Portraits, Words


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 9, 2014)The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky is showcasing three new exhibitions "Laurel Nakadate: Strangers and Relations," "TAKE MY WORD FOR IT" and "Kurt Vonnegut: Madmen and Moonbeams." The shows feature several art forms from one artist's photographs of "relatives" and "strangers" across the nation, to depictions of hand drawn or printed words, to comical and surreal silkscreens. These exhibitions, which are all free and open to the public, will be on display through Dec. 23.

It's Not All 'Relative'

"Laurel Nakadate: Strangers and Relations" is a collection of stark portraits that feature two distinct groups documented in similar ways.

The “strangers” are individuals the artist found through friends and by posting invitations on social media for people to be photographed under a night sky wearing their own clothing and bringing their choice of props. The resulting works are a unique combination of flash and long exposure that offer dramatic spot-lit figures that seem to have suddenly appeared in the landscape.

The “relatives” were identified when Nakadate took a DNA test in order to uncover data about her mother’s family history. She then did genealogical research and discovered connections to slaves, Mayflower pilgrims, the McCoy clan of the famous Hatfield/McCoy feud, and the early protestant feminist Anne Hutchinson.

As is often the case with her projects, Nakadate travelled extensively throughout the U.S., visiting 31 states to photograph distant cousins and their children, figures who reflect a range of racial, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Nakadate has participated in solo and group exhibitions at museums and galleries worldwide, including the 10-year survey "Laurel Nakadate: Only the Lonely" at MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) PS 1 in 2011. She received acclaim for two feature-length films, "Stay the Same Never Change" (2009), which premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, and "The Wolf Knife" (2010), which was nominated for Gotham and Independent Spirit Awards.

As the first speaker for the Robert C. May Photography Lecture Series, Nakadate will also visit campus to discuss her work with Museum Director Stuart Horodner 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10, at the Student Center Worsham Theater.

What's in a Word

"TAKE MY WORD FOR IT" brings together numerous text-based works, drawn primarily from the museum’s permanent collection, which examine ways that artists use language to directly engage the viewer.

Drawings, prints and books by Clifford Amyx, Luis Camnitzer, Van Deren Coke, Wendy Ewald, Hans Haacke, Jenny Holzer, Susan E. King, Barbara Kruger, Les Levine, Kay Rosen, Edward Ruscha, Tad Savinar, Pat Steir, Catherine WagnerKara Walker and others offer a range of words that are meant to be looked at as well as read. Hand drawn or printed, and combining various fonts and degrees of legibility, the artworks address a range of subjects and conditions, from poetics to politics.

Screened In

"Kurt Vonnegut: Madmen and Moonbeams" is an exhibition of silkscreen prints of portraits by novelist Kurt Vonnegut that are both comical and surreal. He made drawings throughout his life and like writers and musicians, including Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Norman Mailer and Joni Mitchell, found that visual art offered him another outlet for creativity.

"Madmen and Moonbeams" was curated by art history graduate student Courtney Anich, of Pataskala, Ohio. The works were printed here in Lexington by Joe Petro III.

The Art Museum at UK is located in the Singletary Center for the Arts at Rose Street and Euclid Avenue. The hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and noon to 8 p.m. on Friday. In preparation for the fall exhibitions, the museum has redesigned its lobby and retail area. The public is invited to meet the new director, Stuart Horodner, at the opening reception 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11.

The mission of the Art Museum at UK, part of the UK College of Fine Arts, is to promote the understanding and appreciation of art to enhance the quality of life for the people of Kentucky through collecting, exhibiting, preserving and interpreting outstanding works of visual art from all cultures. Home to a collection of more than 4,500 objects, including American and European paintings, drawings, photographs, prints and sculpture, the Art Museum at UK presents both special exhibitions and shows of work from their permanent collection.

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716;