Shows to See in the US this October

From Rose B. Simpson’s figurative clay sculptures at the ICA/Boston to an homage of Lucy Lippard’s show of women artists at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, here are the shows currently on our radar

BY frieze in Exhibition Reviews , US Reviews | 21 OCT 22

Rose B. Simpson

Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston

11 August 2022  29 January 2023

A room full of figurative sculptures; at foreground, a female-appearing figure with chin raised, antler-like tubes growing out of the top of their head
‘Rose B. Simpson: Legacies’, 2022, installation view. Courtesy: the artist and ICA/Boston; photograph: Mel Taing

A darkened atmosphere pervades Rose B. Simpson’s solo exhibition ‘Legacies’ at ICA/Boston, like a cloudy sky calling for rain. Figurative clay sculptures appear on raised platforms in the open gallery. Their resemblances disclose familial relations amongst those in the room and, as the title of the exhibition suggests, to relatives beyond. Simpson herself comes from a long line of accomplished ceramicists from Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico, including her mother, Roxanne Swentzell, her late grandmother, Rina Swentzell and her late great-grandmother, Rose Naranjo. Although Simpson’s sculptures are personal, reflective of her experience both as a parent and a Tewa woman, they are without specific autobiographical or spiritual references. The markings that run up and down the figures are intentionally inscrutable, forming part of the artist’s unique symbology. Despite these guarded signifiers, Simpson’s work is forthright in her critique of ongoing settler colonialism. –Caitlin Chaisson

52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone’ 

Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

6 July 2022  8 January 2023

On the left side of the frame, a window into the outside, where a globular silver sculpture sits on the grass; inside, a fireplace-like brown sculpture and a bronze-appearing sculpture with rocks around
‘52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone’, installation view. Photograph: Jason Mandella

Though groundbreaking in its time, Lucy Lippard’s 1971 exhibition at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, ‘Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists’, inadvertently symbolized the exclusionary conditions of second-wave feminism through a predominance of white American participants. By contrast, ‘52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone’ brings together female-identifying and nonbinary emerging artists from 11 birthplaces and heritages, with works from the original exhibition placed in conversation with those by 26 emerging artists who have not yet had a major solo museum show. To that end, ‘52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone’, which spans the entire museum, not only pays homage to the original exhibition, but also charts the evolution of feminist art through a broader lens. –Erica N. Cardwell

Cathy Lu

Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco

20 January  17 December 2022

A yellow segmented snake-like ceramic build hanging from the ceiling, bookended by hands with coiling nails
Cathy Lu, Nüwa’s Hands, 2022, ceramic, gold luster, steel cable, 256 × 25 × 213 cm. Courtesy: the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco

The odd location of the scrappy Chinese Culture Center – on the third floor of the skyscraping, four-star Hilton Hotel in San Francisco’s Chinatown, as though caught between worlds – resulted from fervent negotiations between real estate developers and community activists. In this contested space marked by difference and inspired by the recent global upsurge in anti-Asian hate crimes and white supremacist rhetoric, Cathy Lu’s solo exhibition, ‘Interior Garden’, stages four ceramic installations that explore the surrealistic, humorous and grotesque truths behind the so-called ‘American Dream’ that promises a linear path to success for all who work for it. What beauty, and what horror, propels the growth of this garden? –Vivienne Liu

The Double: Identity and Difference in Art since 1900

National Gallery of Art

10 July  31 October 2022

A backwards lit up neon word 'America', and reflected below that the same word upside down and backward
Glenn Ligon, Double America, 2012, neon and paint, 91 × 305 cm. Courtesy: the artist and National Gallery of Art

‘Hallelujah! The blind can see again’, John Cage wrote about Robert Rauschenberg's Factum I and Factum II (both 1957) (‘On Robert Rauschenberg’, 1961). It's true – seen together in this exhibition, the features of both works, nearly identical, are sharpened, offset: the way white paint drips over a red 'T', the way layered yellow and blue pigment leans more or less green. ‘The Double: Identity and Difference in Art since 1900’ at the National Gallery of Art is the first major museum show dedicated to exploring how doubling and its wide net of associations – copies, duplicates, doppelgängers – have gripped artists since the onset of modernity. Organized into four curatorial themes, the exhibition spans formalist experimentations in reproducing the same motif multiple times to the philosophical dilemma of the double bind. 

Main image: ‘52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone’, installation view. Photograph: Jason Mandella

Contemporary Art and Culture