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story.lead_photo.caption Former first lady Michelle Obama and Artist Amy Sherald (left) unveil Michelle Obama's official portrait at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery on Feb. 12, 2018, in Washington. Sherald's piece Precious jewels by the sea is one of four acquisitions by female artists announced Tuesday by the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. (Courtesy Photo/ANDREW HARNIK )

BENTONVILLE -- Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art on Tuesday announced acquisitions by contemporary female artists to be added to its permanent collection.

Featured artists include Amy Sherald, Marie Watt, Lorraine O'Grady and Dyani White Hawk, according to a museum news release.

"These acquisitions demonstrate Crystal Bridges' commitment to developing an inclusive American art collection and exhibition program," Austen Barron Bailly, Crystal Bridges' chief curator, said in the release. "Looking ahead to a new decade, we are excited to continue to highlight the contributions of underrepresented artists to American art history, many of whom are introduced to Crystal Bridges audiences through our exhibitions."


Sherald paints about the contemporary, black American experience, according to the news release.

Precious jewels by the sea (2019) is one of the paintings she presented in her show of new work at Hauser & Wirth, her first show with the gallery. Sherald depicts a group of teens at the beach in a larger-than-life manner in the painting.

The work is 10-by-9-feet and features varying shades of monochromatic gray for skin tone to contrast with her subjects' brightly colored outfits and the blues of the sea and sky to accentuate the presence of the youths.

"We are thrilled to add this important work by Sherald to the Crystal Bridges collection," Lauren Haynes, contemporary art curator at Crystal Bridges and visual arts curator at The Momentary, said in the release. The Momentary, is a visual and performing arts space in Bentonville.

"Museum visitors truly connected to Sherald's work when we had her exhibition on view and to be able to continue the conversations started during that moment is especially exciting."

The solo exhibition titled Amy Sherald was shown at Crystal Bridges in 2018.

Precious jewels by the sea is scheduled to go on view early this year.


Watt, a member of the Seneca Nation, is known for her Blanket Stories artworks weaving indigenous knowledge, intercultural exchange and personal biographies, according to the release.

Watt has been creating large textiles through community sewing circle events the Past several years. Companion Species (Speech Bubble) (2019) was made of embroidered reclaimed blankets and thread by participants at various events in the region, including at Crystal Bridges; the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; the Art Center of the Ozarks; and the Cherokee Arts Center in Tahlequah, Okla.

The work measures more than 11-feet-by-16-feet and incorporates words such as "neighbor," "companion," "mother," "father" and "brother," which are rendered in unique stitches reflecting the hands of the many contributors of the sewing circles.

"This acquisition is a superb addition to our art collection" Mindy N. Besaw, Crystal Bridges curator, said in the release. "Watt's art also holds a personal connection to our community and the museum's efforts to celebrate indigenous art and artists. Watt was in residence in Northwest Arkansas in November 2018 in conjunction with the Art for a New Understanding exhibition -- this artwork is a direct result of her time here."

This artwork is to go on view in the fall.


O'Grady is a visual artist who addresses feminist concerns and cultural perspectives through a variety of mediums, including performance, photo, moving media and photo montage, according to the release.

Untitled (Mlle Bourgeoise Noire) (1980-83/2009) is a series of photographs documenting O'Grady's first public artwork, a performance art piece in which she wore a gown and cape made of 180 pairs of white gloves, gave away 36 white flowers, beat herself with a white cat-o'-nine-tails and shouted poems criticizing the mindsets of the white and the black art worlds.

O'Grady made uninvited appearances at openings in the early 1980s at the New Museum of Contemporary Art and Just Above Midtown Gallery in New York demanding attention for black women artists as the farcical and indicting persona Miss Black Middle-Class 1955, according to the release. The exhibit's 14 photos chronicle the invading moments of the performance.

"This acquisition reflects the museum's commitment to presenting 20th century art at Crystal Bridges, including art from the 1960s through the 1980s in a more in-depth way," Haynes said. "These photographs allow us to continue conversations about performance art."

This artwork is to go on view in 2020.


White Hawk is a Sicangu Lakota artist, an Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellow at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis, and a recipient of the 2019 United States Artists Fellowship in Visual Art, according to the release.

White Hawk is known for her intricate paintings either embedding or mimicking aspects of her Lakota heritage onto canvas. She Gives (Quiet Strength V) (2019) is part of a recent series speaking to the resilience of indigenous women, which White Hawk honors through her paintings. The acquisition features repeating diamonds in black and white painted to resemble quillwork sitting atop a shimmering, copper background.

"This acquisition will continue Crystal Bridges' commitment to expanding the definition of American art while also introducing White Hawk to new and existing audiences at the museum," Haynes said. "This painting fits beautifully with our strong collection of abstract paintings by artists such as Carmen Herrera, Agnes Martin, Alma Thomas and Emmi Whitehorse."

This artwork is scheduled to go on view in the spring.

Metro on 01/02/2020

Print Headline: New pieces introduced by Crystal Bridges Museum


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