Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University

San Jose Museum of Art
San Jose, CA

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San Jose Museum of Art
110 S Market St,
San Jose, CA 95113

Catherine Wagner: Paradox Observed
April 5, 2019 – August 18, 2019

Curated by Kathryn Wade, curatorial associate

Catherine Wagner (born 1953, San Francisco) has an analytic eye—an impulse to examine and organize information. Like a scientific researcher, she imposes order on a chaotic world. Photographing within institutions of learning—classrooms, laboratories, and museums and archives—she isolates and reclassifies objects, abstracting them from their original meaning. This exhibition presents Wagner’s monumental installation Pomegranate Wall (2000) in SJMA’s permanent collection, the glowing 8-by-40-foot arc of photographs taken with an MRI machine and made during an artist residency fellowship at the Museum. Shown with black-and-white photographs of plant and animal matter from Wagner’s visual investigation of science laboratories, the immersive installation explores life from the inside out.

Wagner’s interest in science began in the classroom, not her own, but while traveling to schools across the country where she photographed lecture halls, biology labs, and classrooms. For Wagner, these sites of learning embody society’s aspirations and values; blackboards, science experiments, and empty desks possess the markings of human inquiry and the highly structured systems through which knowledge is developed and conveyed. For her later series “Art & Science: Investigating Matter,” Wagner gained access to professional laboratories where the artist’s photographic documentation acts as a counterpart to scientific research, focusing on its tools and methods of analysis through compositional use of isolation, classification, and sequence.

With science as a subject matter, Wagner adopted its tools of observation too, using medical imaging devices as she would her camera. In 1997, she was awarded a two-year fellowship from SJMA to work with technology. Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines and scanning electron microscopes (SEM), Wagner captured organic materials like fruits and vegetables, and animal bone with crisp precision and analytical clarity. Imaged in reverse of a camera—from the inside out, rather than the outside in—MRI scans of pomegranates resemble human cells. Monumentally scaled and clinically backlit in Pomegranate Wall, Wagner’s images possess the authoritative weight of science. Abstracted from the laboratory setting, however, pomegranate specimens become a kind of artifact of humanity. They call attention to scientific technologies that allow us to visualize the microscopic and molecular—the fundamental components of life that are not perceivable to the human eye. And, along with Wagner’s other laboratory photographs, they draw parallels between scientific and artistic investigation that attempt to decipher the codes and invisible structures of human life.
Artist Biography

Catherine Wagner was born in 1953 in San Francisco. She received her BA in 1975 and MA in 1981, both from San Francisco State University. She is the recipient of major awards, including the Rome Prize (2013–14), a Guggenheim Fellowship, NEA Fellowships, and the Ferguson Award. Her work is included in major museum collections including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Fine Art, Houston; and the San José Museum of Art.

Sponsored by Casey and Jack Carsten and Tad Freese and Brook Hartzell. In-kind supporprovided by Anglim Gilbert Gallery and Gallery Luisotti.

Screen Acts: Women in Film and Video
April 5, 2019–June 30, 2019

This series highlights women artists and filmmakers whose works draw on the histories of representation and performance in film and video to address some of the most pressing social issues of our time. Topics range from representations of African Americans in vernacular culture to the politics of space and collective memory.

Artists in this program include Elena Damiani, Steffani Jemison, Jazmín López, Carrie Mae Weems, and the Ethnocine Collective (Emily Hong, Miasarah Lai, and Mariangela Mihai).

Undersoul: Jay DeFeo
Through July 7, 2019

Curated by Lauren Schell Dickens, curator, and Kathryn Wade, curatorial associate.

Jay DeFeo (born 1929, Hanover, New Hampshire; died 1989, Oakland, CA) was relentlessly experimental. Though known primarily for her monumental painting The Rose (1958–66), her visual and poetic associations play across a remarkable array of media and material. This focused exhibition highlights DeFeo’s prolific use of photographic practices as an under-examined but critical facet of her transmutative process. Building upon four works in SJMA’s permanent collection as guiding linchpins, the exhibition draws largely on previously unpublished and unexhibited works from the rich holdings of The Jay DeFeo Foundation to consider this important element of DeFeo’s practice within the context of her multimedia work, significantly deepening and extending her important legacy beyond painting and drawing.

Though used throughout her career to record, compose and revisit, DeFeo’s photographic output increased dramatically during the 1970s. DeFeo famously produced no artwork from 1966–1970, resting and recovering after the emotional, physical, and creative toll of The Rose. It was the camera that facilitated her return to artmaking. As DeFeo herself put it, for three years from 1973–75, “I did nothing but photography.” (Despite the inaccuracy of this statement, her enthusiasm for the medium is clear.) Rather than signaling a new direction, however, the large body of photography DeFeo produced during the 1970s is both reflective of and integral to her painting and drawing process. “More so than most artists, I maintain a kind of consciousness of everything I’ve ever done while I’m engaged on a current work,” DeFeo wrote in 1978. Her photographic work operates within a prolonged consideration of primal forms and elemental symbols, an exploration of the mythological and symbolic links uniting the cosmos to studio objects and to life around her: the undersoul, as her friend Beat poet Michael McClure termed it. DeFeo used the camera to capture symbolic resonances in formal qualities—texture, line, and shape—of objects and artworks in her studio and the world around her, which then transmute across media.

Undersoul: Jay DeFeo features unique photographs, photo collages, photocopies, drawings, and paintings from the 1970s and 1980s that track the artist’s visual vocabulary across media and subject matter.

Exhibition Catalogues
A full color illustrated catalogue was published in conjunction with the exhibition. Presenting new scholarship and previously unpublished works from The Jay DeFeo Foundation, the catalogue will feature an essay by Lauren Schell Dickens, curator.
The catalogue is available for purchase at the Museum Store.

Jay DeFeo (1929-1989) was born in Hanover, New Hampshire and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lived in San Francisco and San José. She received her BA in 1950 and MA in 1951 from the University of California, Berkeley. DeFeo was a pivotal figure in the historic Beat community of artists, poets, and jazz musicians in San Francisco. She worked with unorthodox materials to explore the broadest definitions of sculpture, drawing, collage, and painting. DeFeo’s first major solo exhibition was held at the Dilexi Gallery, San Francisco in 1959 and she was included in Dorothy Miller’s historic exhibition Sixteen Americans at the Museum of Modern Art, New York the same year. She completed her seminal work The Rose in 1966. Throughout her career, DeFeo taught at San Francisco Arts Institute; California College of the Arts, Oakland; and Mills College, Oakland, where she was tenured faculty from 1981–1989. Her work has been featured in numerous museum exhibitions, including a major retrospective organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York in 2012.

Dinh Q. Lê: True Journey Is Return
Friday, September 14, 2018–Sunday, April 7, 2019

Curated by Rory Padeken, associate curator

The largest solo exhibition in the United States in more than a decade of the work of internationally-renowned artist Dinh Q. Lê, this exhibition of five major video and photography installations entwines rarely heard narratives of war and migration from people in North Vietnam, the Vietnamese diaspora, and refugees who, like Lê, have returned to live in their home country. Assembling these obscure stories through the collection of found photographs, artists’ war sketches, and oral histories, Lê presents a multifaceted story about Vietnamese life before, during, and after the Vietnam War. In the process, he questions the viability of collective memory and reveals the effects of trauma on the cultural imagination.

While Lê is best known for his unique photo weavings—interlaced vertical and horizontal strips of documentary photographs and Hollywood films stills about the Vietnam War—this exhibition highlights his ongoing experimentations in video and photography installation. He explores themes of departure and return, the role of the artist during times of war, and reimagining symbols of American imperialism and recent histories of Vietnam through documentary videos and multichannel cinematic presentations, delicate watercolors and abstract paintings made by his artist/subjects, and architectural structures that comprise thousands of photographs abandoned by families fleeing from the ravages of war. Engaged with other Vietnamese voices and perspectives, Lê reshapes and generates new memories and images of the conflict by giving voice literally and metaphorically to those marginalized by history.

The exhibition also includes a selection of rarely seen images of flowers photographed by Lê in Saigon’s flower market. Abstracted through the artist’s signature photo weaving technique, these beautiful yet elegiac floral compositions memorialize lives lost to war and violence in Vietnam while symbolizing a promising and bountiful future for the country.

Dinh Q. Lê: True Journey Is Return is the fourth exhibition in SJMA’s ongoing series New Stories from the Edge of Asia, which features work by artists from Pacific Rim countries and cultures who push the boundaries of narrative in contemporary art.

Exhibition Catalogues
Published by SJMA, the fully illustrated exhibition catalogue includes documentation of the exhibition; a transcribed conversation between Dinh Q. Lê and Moira Roth, Trefethen Professor Emerita of Art History, Mills College, Oakland; and essays by Rory Padeken, SJMA associate curator and curator of the exhibition; Kieu-Linh Caroline Valverde, associate professor of Asian American Studies, University of California, Davis; and Nora A. Taylor, Alsdorf Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art History, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Available for purchase at the Museum Store.

Artist Biography
Born in 1968 in Hà Tiên, Vietnam, Dinh Q. Lê and his family immigrated to the US in 1979. He received his BA in studio art from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1989 and MFA in photography and related media from The School of Visual Arts, New York, in 1992. He currently lives and works in Vietnam. Recent awards include a Rauschenberg Residency, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York (2016); Bellagio Creative Arts Fellowship, Rockefeller Foundation, New York (2014); Visual Art Laureate, Prince Claus Fund, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2010); and Artist-in-Residence, Tokyo Wonder Site Aoyama (2009). He has had solo exhibitions at such venues as Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2015); Rice Gallery, Houston (2014); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010); Bellevue Arts Museum Washington (2007); Asia Society, New York (2005); and The Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky (2000). His work is in the collections of Asia Society, New York; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and San José Museum of Art.

Conversion: Art and Engineering
through Sunday, April 7, 2019

Conversion is the third installment of Koret Family Gallery exhibitions to focus on STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). Explore the intersection of art and engineering through artwork selected from SJMA’s permanent collection.

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