"In Wall Works, six artists were invited to create site-specific wall installations in response to the Museum’s collection of modern and contemporary American art. In preparation for the exhibition, artists Kysa Johnson, Natalie Lanese, Caleb Neelon, Alison Owen, Justin Richel, andMary Temple trolled the Museum’s database of 3,500 objects and selected an artwork to serve as a source of inspiration for their proposed “wall work.” The artists identified artworks that resonated with their varied interests and aesthetics and have consequently assembled an eclectic assortment of objects from deCordova’s collection. Sited both in the gallery and the Museum’s Café, these new installations reflect each artist’s own practice while creatively engaging the Permanent Collection as an educational, historical, and inspirational entity.
Additionally, the artists reference longstanding artistic traditions of working directly on the wall. Caleb Neelon’s piece draws on the history of slogans through street art, placards, bumper stickers, and buttons in his graphic portrayal of the visual language of political activism. Alison Owen’s subtle investigation of space emerges from the conceptual practice of Sol LeWitt’s architectural wall drawings, while Natalie Lanese’s pop-tastic assemblage refers to the tradition of murals as narrative epics. Justin Richel’s delicately rendered sweets and Kysa Johnson’s dense chalk drawings on blackboard call upon early fresco techniques, whereas Mary Temple’s use of the wall as conduit speaks to the history of site-specific artwork.
Wall Works is part of a new initiative to rethink Permanent Collection exhibitions at deCordova. This “artist as curator” project invites the artists to curate their own exhibitions from the institutional vault, mining the collection for new relationships and meaning. By illuminating both the unique holdings of deCordova and the work of the participating artists,Wall Works aims to create a new space for dialogue between the collection and contemporary art practice."