Sara Cwynar’s upcoming solo exhibition at The Milwaukee Art Museum.
Milwaukee, Wis. – February 5, 2019 – The Milwaukee Art Museum presents Sara Cwynar: Image Model Muse, the contemporary artist’s first solo exhibition in the United States, on view March 8 through July 21, 2019 in the Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts at the Museum. The exhibition includes three recent video installations and large-scale photographs created by the Brooklyn-based Cwynar (b. 1985, Vancouver, Canada). The works in the exhibition focuses on the artist’s interest in the creation of consumer desire for objects and how society conceptualizes beauty.
“Cwynar’s multi-disciplinary practice across photography, film, and performance echoes and responds to video and performance art of the 1960s and 1970s, in which the artist is both subject and object of the camera,” said Lisa Sutcliffe, Herzfeld Curator of Photography and Media Arts, Milwaukee Art Museum, and co-curator of the exhibition. “Presenting her full range of work within the context of an encyclopedic collection provides opportunities to examine the historical evolution of standards of beauty and how design plays a role in its construction.”
The works on view reveal the artist’s study of the ways in which color, design and commercial goods can represent larger systems of power. By gathering and organizing objects according to color, vintage, material and content, Cwynar traces how they circulate and are valued by society. In this exhibition, she highlights the evolution of objects from idealized to outdated, focusing on complex feelings of both attraction and repulsion.
“I’m trying to dismantle this often-idealized kitsch, or often very nostalgic Western context of photography, which tells us who we think we are, and often with great bias. I’m trying to think of all the different ways that that is a false history,” said Cwynar. “I’m trying to be clear about my own ambivalence, and how you can see the way the strategies of design and advertising are working but still be seduced by them.”
The artist’s research-oriented films are meditations on the emotional impact of color, design, and popular imagery, and how desire is created. Museum visitors will have the opportunity to view three of Cwynar’s most recent films—Soft Film (2016), Rose Gold(2017), and Cover Girl (2018). Photographs from the artist’s ongoing Tracy series explore similar themes. Through the juxtaposition of commercial objects and Cwynar’s friend Tracy, who acts as the primary model for the series, Cwynar further shows how images can shape beliefs, values and standards of beauty.
“The Milwaukee Art Museum has always found a balance between exhibiting contemporary and historic art,” said Margaret Andera, interim chief curator and curator of contemporary art, Milwaukee Art Museum. “The opportunity to explore the work of Sara Cwynar alongside the depictions of beauty by a 19th-century French Academic painter in the concurrent Bouguereau & America exhibition, allows visitors to deepen their understanding of beauty from differing points of view and across centuries.”
Image Model Muse joins a long list of Milwaukee Art Museum exhibitions that have showcased a living female artist, including Penelope Umbrico: Future Perfect (2016), Currents 35: Tara Donovan (2012), Taryn Simon: Photographs and Texts (2012), On Site: Chakaia Booker (2010), On Site: Andrea Zittel (2004) and Laura Owens (2003) as well as numerous exhibitions of Wisconsin-born Georgia O’Keeffe during her lifetime.
Sara Cwynar has won numerous awards as an emerging artist, including the 2016 Baloise Prize, which recognizes international artists on the rise.
The exhibition is co-organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and curated by Lisa Sutcliffe, Herzfeld Curator of Photography and Media Arts, Milwaukee Art Museum, and Gabriel Ritter, Curator and Head of Contemporary Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art.
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