Vogue contributing editor André Leon Talley is arguably the centerpiece of the newly expanded SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) Museum in Savannah, Georgia. Talley, a SCAD trustee, organized “High Style,” a selection of couture eveningwear by designers who have been the recipients of the André Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award, presented annually by SCAD in his honor [through Feb. 26]. The show takes place in a gallery named for Talley, naturally, and includes a teensy, handspan-waisted, cobweb of a gown designed by Zac Posen.
The museum comprises several large galleries, and SCAD used the reopening to present a range of solo presentations by artists affiliated with the museum. Kehinde Wiley is represented by several brilliantly colored paintings with his characteristic mix of art history, street culture and fashion. It’s about empowerment and visibility, he told Talley during their lively conversation in the museum’s auditorium earlier this month.
Other one-person contributions include Stephen Antonakos’s luminous neon abstractions, shown in the museum’s windows and “Let the Light In,” Liza Lou’s glittery new glass-bead sculptures in the large end gallery.
Alfredo Jaar’s latest project, May 1, 2011, a U.S. premiere, juxtaposes two LCD screens, one blank and the other with an image, taken from the White House website, of President Obama and his advisors as they look beyond the frame at what might be footage of Osama bin Laden’s killing. It underscores Jaar’s longstanding distrust of official images [on view through Feb. 12].
Bill Viola shows his iconic video installation, The Crossing, co-commissioned by SCAD (where it debuted in 1996). Meanwhile, Kendall Buster’s undulating, biomorphic honeycomb panels, commissioned for the long glass-walled gallery that faces the outdoor commons, suggests a three-dimensional topographical rendering suspended overhead.
Other exhibitions include works from the Walter O. Evans collection in a gallery of the same name, part of the museum’s permanent collection. Among these are the outstanding holdings of African American artists that SCAD is known for, such as works by Romare Bearden. The show was selected by the museum’s newly appointed chief curator, Isolde Brielmaier.
SCAD Museum’s stated mission according to Paula Wallace, its co-founder and very hands-on president, is to create an exemplary context in which to view art. “Our museum, she said, is a “kinetic think-tank, a collaborative wellspring of ideas and inspiration for SCAD students as well as for the broader community.”
Laurie Farrell, the SCAD Museum’s executive director of exhibitions, told A.i.A., the museum plans to focus on interactive environments. Located at the entrance, a 12-foot-long table with a touchscreen tablet surface allows users access the collections, programs, calendar, floor plans and more, the images enlarging, shrinking, set into motion with a light swipe of the fingers.
Kendall Buster, New Growth: Stratum Model (detail), poly-carbonate plastic and aircraft cable, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA, 2009. Image courtesy of the artist. Photograph by Siemon Allen.