Kenyon College

Spring Exhibitions Opening Reception

March 19, 2018 5:00pm – 8:00pm

Rania Matar: SHE

Rania Matar situates her new series of photographs of female adolescents and womanhood in relationship to her own position as a Lebanese-Palestinian-American woman and mother. Her portraits, begun during a Mellon residency at the Gund Gallery, pose questions about what it means to be a girl and woman, whether in rural Ohio, the suburbs of Massachusetts, or the streets of Beirut, and exposes vulnerabilities, difference and individuality amid the beauty of transition. On view March 19-April 19, 2018.

Rania Matar will be giving a gallery talk about her work at 7 PM during the opening reception. 

Stories of Self-Reflection: Portraiture by Women Photographers

“I really like the capacity of pictures to tell stories and raise questions about people, about the way we live, about the conditions in which we live our lives. And so I think for me, portraiture is about all those things. It’s about an opportunity to ask about a person or a society or even myself.”

— Claire Beckett ‘00

Portraiture, although typically seen as static and posed, has an extraordinary ability to tell stories through the relationship between photographer and subject, subject and background. This Gund Associate (intern)-curated exhibition highlights recent gifts and promised gifts to the Gund Gallery Collection, focusing specifically on photographic portraiture by Claire Beckett ‘00, Helen Levitt, Vivian Maier, Rania Matar, and others. Through intimacy and empathy, these women photographers are able to raise questions about the constructed nature of identity, especially in the lives of the women and children they portray. These photographs reveal the close, yet complex relationship between photographer and subject and reflect the influence of both individuals on the final work. This mirroring additionally allows viewers to see themselves within the work. Often portraying the trajectory of childhood and adolescence, these images capture the liminal stages of life and expose moments of self-creation by the artists and their subjects. The importance of these moments of transition lies in the freedom to decide one’s own identity. Each of the artists represented use different visual and conceptual strategies, drawing from documentary traditions, fashion photography, and narrative film, to closely observe and empathetically portray their subjects’ experiences and day-to-day lives. On view March 19-August 5, 2018.

Rhythmic Light: Contemporary Cuban Photography by Arien Chang Castán and Leysis Quesada Vera

This Gund Associate (intern)-curated exhibition brings together the work of Arien Chang Castán and Leysis Quesada Vera, two contemporary Cuban photographers who intimately portray everyday life in Cuba in urban and rural settings. With familiar proximity to their subjects, they allegorically recreate the unique rhythms of life on the street and in the countryside, recalling personal memories that take form in surreal compositions and pictorial narratives. Both artists work among a generation of photographers who emerged from a distinctively Cuban tradition of documentary photography committed to the ideals of the Revolution. Simultaneously, they have experienced the devastating economic crisis caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, and more recently, the development of an international audience eager to catch a glimpse of their isolated country. While drawing influence from the aesthetic and ethical concerns of the Revolution’s photographers, these artists shift focus to explore the individual stories and personal expressions that make up the social and cultural fabric of Cuban life. The selection of photographs shown here poetically captures fleeting glimpses of men, women and children immersed in work, play and repose. The artists juxtapose traditional family portraits and subjects of varying age and gender to emphasize the cultural importance of the domestic sphere. Brought together in this exhibition, they compose a rich vernacular image of life in Cuba, which is suspended in an ambiguous historical moment caught between the dreams and disappointments of the country’s revolutionary history and an uncertain future of socio-economic change. On view March 19-April 19, 2018.

“Smash the control images:” Idiosyncratic Visions in Late Century American Art

“In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket”

— “A Supermarket in California,” Allen Ginsberg

During the 1960s and 1970s, America experienced a period of drastic social change, in which artists began materializing their own idiosyncratic visions against the background of the Vietnam and Cold Wars, racial inequality, drug culture, and the protest movements. The backbone of this Gund Associate (intern)-curated exhibition is composed of Gund Gallery collection works ranging in date from the late 1960s to the early 2000s by artists such as Claes Oldenburg, Corita Kent, Roy Dean DeForest, William T. Wiley, Don Nice, David James Gilhooly and others who share an anti-establishment agenda. The artworks challenge canonical art movements of the twentieth century, such as Modernism, Minimalism, Abstract Expressionism, and the purist formalism of the New York gallery scene. Stylistically many of the artists make use of cartoon imagery, caricature, and other lowbrow visual forms to subvert the seriousness of dominant artistic trends and construct works of humor and wit. The pieces integrate appropriations from commercial culture and combine multiple mediums to parody and critique previous conceptions of high art. Due to the close ties between literary, commercial, and aesthetic trends, the exhibition works are supplemented with examples of contemporary material culture and literary excerpts. In drastically rebelling against the previous conventions of the art world, these eccentric works mirror the full social upheaval proclaimed by William S. Burroughs in his 1961 anarchic novel, The Soft Machine, “Smash the control images. Smash the control machine.” On view March 19-April 19, 2018.

Public Opening: Monday, March 19, 5:00-8:00 PM

Buchwald-Wright Gallery, Gund Gallery


The Gund Gallery exhibitions and programs are made possible, in part, by the Gund Gallery Board of Directors and the Ohio Arts Council.


Images top to bottom:

Rania Matar (Lebanese American, b. 1964) Destany, Fredericktown Ohio, 2017. Courtesy of the artist.

Mary Ellen Mark (American, 1940 – 2015), Tiny Blowing a Bubble, Seattle (from“Streetwise”), 1983. Silver gelatin print. 16 x 24 inches. Collection of David Horvitz ‘74 and Francie Bishop Good.

Arien Chang Castan (Cuban, b. 1979), Untitled (from the El Bleco series), 2010. Color photograph. Gund Gallery Collection; Gift of David Horvitz ‘74 and Francie Bishop Good.

Don Nice (American, b. 1932), Double Predella, 1976. Watercolor on paper. 40 x 80 1/4 inches. Gund Gallery Collection; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Graham Gund ’63.