Rashid Johnson’s Message to Our Folks at Miami Art Museum

Opening reception: September 6, 2012. 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
From September 7 through November 4, 2012.

altRashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks is the first major solo exhibition of the artist in South Florida. Johnson’s practice encompasses photography, sculpture, painting and video and explores diverse questions relating to the self, identity, metaphysics and art, rooted in his individual experience. The exhibition includes more than a decade of Johnson’s work with an emphasis on major works from the last five years.

“Rashid Johnson’s unusual vocabulary of materials and innovative mixing of diverse forms and cultural references makes him one of the most vital and interesting artists working today,” said Tobias Ostrander, MAM chief curator and deputy director. “Johnson’s work has been supported for many years by our collecting community and we are thrilled to present his first museum exhibition in South Florida.”

Throughout his work, Johnson evokes shared memories by referencing icons and figures from American and African-American culture. The exhibition fosters a dialogue by inviting viewers’ free associations with familiar figures – such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Sun Ra, Miles Davis, and Public Enemy – and everyday objects that appear in Johnson’s work, including plants, mirrors, rugs, record albums, CB radios, shea butter and books.

Johnson’s conceptually loaded and visually compelling works also allude to alchemy and transformation though his materials and play with the significance and symbolism of different media. His work creates a sense of wonder in the unknown and allows the viewers to draw their own meaning from his works. The exhibition also presents examples from ongoing bodies of work such as Cosmic Slops, abstract paintings made with melted black soap and wax; The New Negro Escapist Social and Athletic Club, portraits of members of a fictional black bourgeois secret society; recent “shelf sculptures” featuring found objects, such as The Shuttle (2010) and Triple Consciousness (2009); and early photographs made using the nineteenth-century Van Dyke Brown printing process.

Johnson was born in Chicago in 1977 and currently lives in New York. He has a BA in photography from Columbia College and attended graduate school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work is in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, Whitney Museum of American Art, Seattle Art Museum, Brooklyn Museum of Art, and Detroit Institute of Art. His work has been featured in major group exhibitions including 30 Americans: The Rubell Collection (2008); Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self at the International Center of Photography (2003); and Freestyle at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2001); and in 2011 was featured at the International Pavilion of the 54th Venice Biennale. He is one of the nominees for the Guggenheim’s 2012 Hugo Boss Prize, and the winner of the 2012 High Museum’s David C. Driskell prize that honors excellence in African-American art and scholarship.


Thursday, September 6, 2012, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Opening Reception for Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks
Entertainment, Cocktails. Details at events@miamiartmuseum.org or 305.375.1704. MAM Members free, non-members $10. Curator-led tour of Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks

Friday, September 7, 2012 at 12:30 p.m.
MAM Associate Curator Diana Nawi will lead a guided tour of Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks on the exhibition’s opening day! New York–based artist Rashid Johnson’s first major solo exhibition explores the complexities and contradictions of black identity in a practice that is rooted in his individual experience. Incorporating commonplace objects from his childhood in a process he describes as “hijacking the domestic,” the artist transforms everyday materials such as wood, mirrors, tiles, rugs, CB radios, shea butter and plants into conceptually-loaded and visually-compelling works. Free in conjunction with DDA DWNTWN Art Days.

Saturday, September 8, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Second Saturdays are Free for Families: “Curious Collections”
After examining the art of Rashid Johnson in the galleries, thoughtfully assemble images of ordinary objects into extraordinary arrangements. Create a table-top gallery for your custom collections! At 3pm, enjoy an engaging storybook reading of Something to Put Something On, an artist favorite by artist Lawrence Weiner. Free and open to the public. Presented by MetLife Foundation. Additional support provided by Miami Salon Group, Inc.

Monday, September 24, 2012, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
MAM @ Books & Books: Reading Art
Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness by Touré
Join MAM’s book club for a discussion of Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness by Touré with a foreword by Michael Eric Dyson (2011). Touré, a catalog author for the exhibition Rashid Johnson: Message to our Folks, on view at MAM September 7 to November 4, 2012, is correspondent for MSNBC, author, contributor to Time, Ebony and Rolling Stone as well as the host of Hip Hop Shop and On the Record. In Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness, Touré examines the constraints of notions of an authentic Black culture and in doing so interviews and looks at the work of a number of contemporary intellectuals, public figures and artists, amongst them Rashid Johnson. Books & Books, 265 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables, FL 33134. Free to the public. RSVP required to education@miamiartmuseum.org or 305.375.4073.

Miami Art Museum
101 West Flagler Street
Miami, Florida 33130

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