Arts & Culture

Artists Assemble: UK Art Museum Presents ‘Sew What,’ ‘Come Together’

detail image of Jessie Dunahoo "Untitled"
photo of Jessie Dunahoo's "Untitled"
photo of "toxifying appylachia jeezus warshedtheseft 800years ago" by Bruce Burris

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 16, 2021) The University of Kentucky Art Museum has assembled a collection of work by celebrated mixed media artists for its newest exhibitions opening today. “Sew What” brings together nationally renowned artists Elana Herzog and Ben Venom known for their work combining materials with celebrated Lexington artist Jessie Dunahoo, an artist who was deaf and blind and worked out of the city's Latitude Artist Community. As a complement, “Come Together” showcases work from the museum collection that also employs the use of collecting and combining of materials. Both exhibitions are free and open to the public.

‘Sew What: Jessie Dunahoo, Elana Herzog, Ben Venom’

'Sew What' brings together three distinct artists who share a love of common materials (fabric, clothing, rugs, plastic bags) and an urge to investigate their potential as component parts of larger objects and installations. Their completed works offer meditations on the history of assemblage, especially aspects of recycling, labor and time.

Jessie Dunahoo was a Lexington artist who was born deaf and additionally lost his vision at a young age. That didn’t prevent him from making elaborate art and environments with found materials around his home. As an adult, he worked five days a week at Latitude Artist Community, a local studio facility that provides are and creative outlets for individuals with disabilities. His sewn-together works present shifting areas of color, texture, language and transparency.

Elana Herzog consistently makes and unmakes objects, ripping and cutting textiles and carpets and situating them in and against specific gallery and museum architecture. For the last two decades, she has reveled in creating immersive situations that obliterate distinctions between old and new, common and precious, in process and completed. She states, "Speed, labor, progress, obsolescence, loss, kitsch, camp, nostalgia, sentimentality, taste … there are too many clichés out there for what I and other women artists do.”

Ben Venom combines the processes and aesthetics of quilt making with the robust graphics of heavy metal and punk music, tattoo culture and heraldry. His large wall hangings utilize fragments of T-shirts from bands like Iron Maiden, AC/DC and Poison, along with swatches of denim and other fabrics. Together, these form a complicated code switching between gendered traditions and unique sub-cultures.

“Jessie Dunahoo’s reality as a deaf and blind man, did not stop him from creating sculptures by touch, sewing together plastic shopping bags, scraps of fabric, and other items that were collected for him. Elana Herzog makes reference to the history of art, industry, and domestic traditions by cutting, stacking, and splicing distinct rugs and carpets from around the world into unique arrangements. Ben Venom has been called a ‘punk rock quilter’ because of the band-related T-shirts he uses, as well as the rebellious attitude he brings to this traditional sewing activity,” UK Art Museum Director Stuart Horodner said. “The exhibition examines the use of recycled and referential materials, and the different ways that artists orient their own physical, emotional and cultural situations.”

‘Come Together: Assemblage and Collage from the Collection’

Organized to provide a deeper context for the “Sew What” exhibition, "Come Together" features examples of drawing, painting and sculpture that are the result of gathering various materials and combining them in distinct ways.

Collage and assemblage are construction practices that go back hundreds of years but are associated with the 20th-century activities of artists including Pablo Picasso, Jean Dubuffet, Joseph Cornell, Hannah Höch, Louise Nevelson and Robert Rauschenberg, to name a few.

“Come Together” features work by artists in the UK Art Museum’s permanent collection who are part of this tradition, including Raymond Barnhart, William Bayer, Bruce Burris, Christo, Robert Morgan, Robert Motherwell, Judith Page, Antoni Tapies and others.

“Sew What” and “Come Together” will run March 16-July 10, 2021.


To keep patrons and staff safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, UK Art Museum has several protocols in place. All visitors must pre-register for a timed appointment to view exhibitions. Reservations can be made here

In addition, all visitors must abide by the following guidelines when visiting any exhibitions or activities at UK Art Museum:

  • Face masks must be worn by all visitors older than 2 years of age.
  • Capacity will be reduced and controlled to 20 visitors at any time.
  • Temperature checks will be required for visitors and staff prior to entry.
  • Visitors showing signs of illness at any time will be asked to return when they are healthy.
  • Visitors must use provided hand sanitizer upon entry.
  • Social distancing is required and will be enforced.
  • Follow signs noting the direction of traffic in the galleries.
  • Credit or debit cards only; no cash permitted for any purchases. 

UK Art Museum staff will also wear masks, undergo temperature checks prior to entry, use hand sanitizer and practice social distancing. Please check the UK Art Museum website before you visit for the most up-to-date information.

The UK Art Museum’s current hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. The museum will be closed Sundays and Mondays.

The mission of the UK Art Museum, part of the UK College of Fine Arts, is to promote the understanding and appreciation of art to enhance the quality of life for people of Kentucky through collecting, exhibiting, preserving and interpreting outstanding works of visual art from all cultures. Home to a collection of more than 4,800 objects including American and European paintings, drawings, photographs, prints and sculpture, the Art Museum presents both special exhibitions and shows of work from its permanent collection. 

The UK Art Museum is located in the Singletary Center for the Arts at Rose Street and Euclid Avenue. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged. 


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