press release

This spring, the Wexner Center for the Arts debuts Gray Matters, an ambitious survey of 37 contemporary women artists working in the shades of black, white, and gray.

The first show organized for the Wexner Center by Michael Goodson since he assumed the role of Senior Curator of Exhibitions in 2016, Gray Matters marks the midpoint of a calendar year in which the center’s entire exhibition program consists solely of women artists. Having begun 2017 with the presentation of Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight, along with the world premiere of Sarah Oppenheimer: S-337473, the Wex will conclude the year with the only appearance of Cindy Sherman: Imitation of Life outside of Los Angeles.

Comprising nearly 50 works across a variety of media, Gray Matters presents an expanded, nontraditional view of working en grisaille, the historic practice largely associated with a highly male-gendered canon of old masters. This exhibition infiltrates that rarified territory by focusing exclusively on women artists who range widely in age, race, background, creative practice, and stature from emerging to established. Together, they reveal the vibrancy, as well as the expressive power, in the spectrum between and including black and white.

Bethany Collins presents two works that consider the impact of the written word by obscuring sourced, often racially charged texts with black boxes and blind embossing. Race and representation fuel additional contributions by artists such as Marlene Dumas, Lorna Simpson, Mickalene Thomas, and Kara Walker.

Material possibilities are pushed to extremes by such artists as Tacita Dean, Roni Horn, Toba Khedoori, Arlene Shechet, and Rachel Whiteread. For example, shifting from mirrors to lenses depending on the viewer’s perspective, the two substantial glass units of Horn’s Opposites of White (2006–07) suggest the passage of time within a fixed physical state. And Rubin’s wall-mounted work, entitled Drawing (2005), is actually a massive sculpture made entirely of graphite on paper that radiates the artist’s intense and energetic process, yet belies the primary material of its making.

Gray Matters includes a new tondo painting by Chicago-based Michelle Grabner that continues her interest in pattern (and its undoing), along with site-specific installations by Joyce Pensato, Xaviera Simmons, and Carmen Winant, a Columbus-based artist whose recent photomontages of found images celebrate women in the many roles they fulfill, whether assumed or assigned.

Gray Matters investigates the achromatic spectrum as an intersection between observation and thought; between seeing and knowing. It proffers the idea that black, white, and the gamut between is less a formal restraint than a fertile ground ripe with possibility.

A free gallery guide with an essay by Michael Goodson and entries on each artist featured in Gray Matters accompanies the exhibition.

Artists Tauba Auerbach, Carol Bove, Gisele Camargo, Vija Celmins, Bethany Collins, Marsha Cottrell, Tacita Dean, Tara Donovan, Marlene Dumas, Michelle Grabner, Josephine Halvorson, Mona Hatoum, Roni Horn, Cristina Iglesias, Jennie C. Jones, Toba Khedoori, Laura Lisbon, Suzanne McClelland, Julie Mehretu, Katie Paterson, Joyce Pensato, Amalia Pica, Mary Reid Kelley, Michal Rovner, Nancy Rubins, Arlene Shechet, Erin Shirreff, Amy Sillman, Xaviera Simmons, Diane Simpson, Lorna Simpson, Avery Singer, Michelle Stuart, Mickalene Thomas, Kara Walker, Rachel Whiteread, Carmen Winant