Kenyon College

Sculpture as Verb

August 19, 2022–December 11, 2022  [+]

Works by Derek Sullivan, Tony Lewis, Surabhi Ghosh, Erin Shirreff, Gordon Matta-Clark, Allyson Vieira, Carlos Bunga, Alix Vernet and Rick Silva.

Art, like many other fields of research, is driven by active processes. This becomes particularly apparent when we discern the ways artists manipulate materials and the properties of form in relation to how we actively perceive and inhabit the physical world. The premise of this exhibition follows a similar impetus; one informed by artists interested in the limits and possibilities of sculpture as an expansive and evolving experimental terrain, and how the objects around us shape our lived experiences.

With Richard Serra’s commissioned work Pivot (2021), recently installed on Kenyon’s West Quad, the exhibition Sculpture as Verb takes Serra’s seminal work Verb List (1967) as an introduction to the performative, exploratory, and action-driven processes inherent to making art. This exhibition also aims to reimagine how Serra’s drawing gave way to a new generation of artists who consider sculpture as an active vehicle for sensorial, spatial, relational, and social experiences.

Verb List is many things: a work on paper, a guide, a measure of disruption and a call to defy expectations. The list can be understood as an alternative to formal activities in the studio. It is also a prompt to challenge, disorient, and reimagine the boundaries of physical space—and yet, the list makes a case for the continued need to generate something different, to never stay still. This early artwork by Serra is as much a testament to the influence of dance, performance, as well as durational and conceptual art movements on his practice as it is an invitation to consider the prompt of a verb as a frame for the deployment of new strategies in spaces like the museum, the outdoors, the studio. Taken together, the works in the exhibition present new possibilities in the elaboration of artistic form. 

Sculpture as Verb expands on the experimental impetus of Verb List. The artists participating in this exhibition each have different relationships with the list, and art-making; some engage with it as an ongoing prompt to challenge their own practices. Others have also taught Verb List to studio art students as a creative tool. Some of the artists challenge traditional sculptural practices and manifest aspects of the list in their work without referring to it directly. The selection of works emphasizes the ways in which language can inspire new visual and spatial forms. 

Similar to the premise of Verb List, each artwork in its own way questions the common tendency to treat sculpture as a static form. It also expands the role of the viewer as an accomplice to the outcomes—and, at times, a participant. Sculpture as Verb, in the spirit of Verb List, shows how we can conceive of material form as part of a lived experience. 

Daisy Desrosiers, Director and Chief Curator, Gund Gallery

Sculpture as Verb is inspired by the seminal exhibition Art as Verb which was curated by Leslie King-Hammond and Lowery Stokes Sims at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore in 1988 and explored the connections between art-making, process, and lived experiences.

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


Feature Image: Richard Serra, Verb List, 1967. Pencil on two sheets of paper. 10 x 8 ½ inches (each). Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, NYC. © 2022 Richard Serra / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York