Contemporary Arts Center teams with Kemper Museum to celebrate Midwestern art and culture in ‘The Regional’

The Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati and Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, MO will premiere a major exhibition next month dedicated to artists living and working throughout Midwestern America.

The Regional” is the first major multi-museum survey dedicated to contemporary artists based in the Midwest and will feature new and recent work, including several site-responsive commissions, by more than 20 artists working across painting, photography, installation and performance. Showcasing artists that represent a wide variety of backgrounds, concerns and approaches, “The Regional” celebrates the artistic and cultural complexity of the Midwest, offering audiences a more comprehensive understanding of this moment in America’s heartland.

“The Regional” is co-curated by Amara Antilla, senior curator at the CAC and Jade Powers, assistant curator at Kemper Museum. The exhibition premieres at the CAC on Dec. 10 and runs through May 1, before traveling to Kemper Museum from June 2 through Sept. 11. A parallel program of conversations and performances is being organized at each venue.

” ‘The Regional’ is a testament to the range of creative practices and rich cultural heritage alive in the Midwest and is an important opportunity to support and celebrate local artists,” said Antilla. “The exhibition offers audiences a long glance into the heart of America, which is as complex, varied and evolving as the artists and works on view in this show. At a time when the concerns of the middle of the country are ever more visible and urgent, this exhibition is a chance to spark dialogue and connection, providing audiences a deeper understanding of the historical foundation and contemporary concerns that ultimately unite us.”

“The intersections that emerge between artists working all across the Midwest in this exhibition are truly exciting,” said Powers. “Working with artists based in the region and understanding the cultural landscape of America’s heartland brings ideas of self, community and purpose to the forefront. It has been energizing to see how the artists respond to these themes in their practices. I look forward to the unique experiences of the work that each venue will present and the dialogue that they will surely inspire related to both shared and individual experiences within the Midwest.”

Loosely defined as the area that stretches from the Dakotas in the west along the Great Lakes to Michigan and Ohio in the east and from the north in Minnesota adjacent to the Mississippi River through Illinois, Iowa and Missouri, the Midwest is a construct bounded by geography as well as shared social and cultural legacies. Partially encompassing the “Rust Belt,” a site of the 20th century industrial growth marked by subsequent declines and more recent resurgences, the Midwest is linked by histories that include the early abolition of slavery and the underground railroad network, as well as immigration, namely by Germans, Irish and Scandinavians in the mid-19th century, and more recently by asylum seekers from countries as varied as Vietnam, Iraq and Somalia.

Reflecting and responding to this range of social and historical contexts, “The Regional” scans the diverse cultural landscape of the region and provides a snapshot of the creative ecology blooming within it. The exhibition brings together new and recent work by artists from a variety of backgrounds who are currently based in Detroit, Cincinnati, Chicago, Cleveland, Kansas City, Madison, Minneapolis and St. Louis, among other locales throughout the Midwest. The exhibit celebrates the range of cultural origins and creative approaches in the middle section of America by uniting artists working across creative disciplines to explore some of the most pressing issues of our time.

As an initiative dedicated to showcasing and engaging with local cultural communities, “The Regional” will evolve as it tours to each location by inviting additional local artists to participate in related programming and installations at each venue. The exhibition will also be accompanied by a digital catalogue highlighting featured works and exploring a range of historic and contemporary themes informing the show. Together, the exhibition, publication and related programs will invite audiences to participate in a dynamic discourse about the past and future of the Midwest and the artists working within it.

Graphic design for the exhibition and catalogue will be led by Columbus, Ohio-based artist and designer Ryland Wharton, who has designed publications, websites and software for a variety of institutions and individuals in the cultural sector, including The Columbus Museum of Art, The Knowlton School of Architecture and artist Daniel Gordon.

Participating artists include:

  • Hellen Ascoli (b. 1984, Guatemala City, Guatemala; lives and works in Madison, WI)
  • Lyndon Barrois Jr. (b. 1983, New Orleans; lives and works in Pittsburgh)
  • Johnathan Christensen Caballero (b. 1988, Salt Lake City; lives and works in Lawrence, KS)
  • Rachel Cox (b. 1984, Irving, TX; lives and works in Iowa City, IA)
  • Mara Duvra (b. 1989, Silver Spring, MD; lives and works in Minneapolis)
  • Conrad Egyir (b. 1989, Accra, Ghana; lives and works in Detroit)
  • Isa Gagarin (b. 1986, Guam, lives and works in Minneapolis)
  • Rashawn Griffin (b. 1980, Los Angeles; lives and works in Kansas City, MO)
  • Dan Gunn (b. 1980, Prairie Village, KS; lives and works in Chicago)
  • Matthew Angelo Harrison (b. 1989, Detroit; lives and works in Detroit)
  • Pao Houa Her (b. 1982, Laos; lives and works in Blaine, MN)
  • Anissa Lewis (b. 1974, Covington, KY; lives and works in Cincinnati)
  • Dakota Mace (Diné) (b. 1991, Albuquerque, NM; lives and works in Madison, WI)
  • Gisela McDaniel (b. 1995, Guam; lives and works in Detroit)
  • Lorena Molina (b. 1985, San Salvador, El Salvador; lives and works in Cincinnati)
  • Huong Ngo (b. 1979, Hong Kong; lives and works in Chicago)
  • Yvonne Osei (b. 1990, Hamburg, Germany; lives and works in St. Louis)
  • Natalie Petrosky (b. 1989, Akron, OH; lives and works in Cleveland)
  • Devan Shimoyama (b. 1989, Philadelphia; lives and works in Pittsburgh)
  • Alice Tippit (b. 1975, Independence, KS; lives and works in Chicago)
  • Jordan Weber (b. 1984, Des Moines, IA; lives and works in Des Moines, IA)
  • Margo Wolowiec (b. 1985, Detroit; lives and works in Detroit)
  • Nikki Woods (b. 1990, Cleveland; lives and works in Cleveland)

Digital Catalogue

In conjunction with the exhibition, the CAC and Kemper Museum are developing a robust digital catalogue, which will be made available as a free downloadable PDF on each of the institutions’ websites. The catalogue will revisit older histories of the region while also inviting speculation about its future, highlighting certain works in the exhibition, and engaging a range of subjects including gentrification, propaganda, Jazz, joy, failure and freedom. The catalogue will include new essays by the exhibition’s curators as well as contributions from scholars, artists, and thought leaders.

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