Dropping the Urn. A selection of ceramic works and photographs ranging from 1993 to the present. In these works, Ai Weiwei transforms ancient ceramic objects, including 7000-year old Neolithic urns and Han dynasty vessels, by painting them with a Coca-Cola logo, dipping them into vats of industrial paint, smashing them on the ground, or grinding them into powder. Contemporary a show of cloth, 75' 9'' long, created over the course of 3 months during the artist's project Local Industry, part of the exhibition of Anne Wilson.
curated by Richard Torchia and Gregg Moore
The Knoxville Museum of Art presents Ai Weiwei: Dropping the Urn (Ceramic Works, 5000 BCE-2010 CE). This is the first solo exhibition of works by the prominent Chinese artist to be presented in the United States outside of New York.
Ai Weiwei is perhaps China’s most famous contemporary artist. His artworks simultaneously celebrate and call into question Chinese culture and history. Organized by Arcadia University Art Gallery, Ai Weiwei: Dropping the Urn features a selection of ceramic works and photographs ranging from 1993 to the present. In these works, Ai Weiwei transforms ancient ceramic objects, including 7,000-year old Neolithic urns and Han dynasty vessels, by painting them with a “Coca-Cola” logo, dipping them into vats of industrial paint, smashing them on the ground, or grinding them into powder.
The largest piece in the exhibition is what appears to be a large pile of tiny sunflower seeds, a common street snack in China. Each seed, produced to scale, was painstakingly hand-crafted from porcelain. Weighing precisely one ton, the porcelain seeds were created by a team of workers in the town of Jingdezhen, China where porcelain has been produced for the past 1,700 years.
KMA Executive Director David Butler emphasizes the importance and timeliness of having this exhibition in Knoxville given the world-wide publicity about the artist’s contentious relationship with Chinese authorities: “Ai Weiwei is an artist of tremendous international stature whose work speaks to universal values and human rights and demonstrates the power of art to move us both intellectually and politically.”
An exhibition catalog is available, produced by Arcadia University in collaboration with the Office for Discourse Engineering, distributed in the United States by RAM Publications.
Ai Weiwei: Dropping the Urn is curated by Richard Torchia and Gregg Moore. The exhibition is organized by Arcadia University Art Gallery and supported by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Philadelphia Exhibition Initiative.
KMA presenting sponsors include Nancy and Stephen Land. Media sponsors include AT&T Real Yellow Pages, Digital Media Graphix, Kurt Zinser Designs, and WBIR.
This is the first public exhibition of the Local Industry, produced in 2010 by 2,100 volunteers alongside 79 experienced weavers at the Knoxville Museum of Art. The cloth, 75’ 9” long, was created over the course of three months during the artist’s project Local Industry, part of the exhibition Anne Wilson: Wind/Rewind/Weave.
The Local Industry was formed entirely from donated fibers, often from mills facing closure throughout the southeastern United States. The thread was prepared on hand-crank bobbin winders by any visitor to the KMA. Wound bobbins were then used by experienced weavers to compose this single bolt of cloth, made up of only stripes, on one loom setup inside the gallery space. After making, the cloth was donated to the Knoxville Museum of Art by the artist alongside an “Archive of Production” identifying all contributors to Local Industry. The “Archive of Production” is on view alongside the cloth during this exhibition.
Anne Wilson: Wind/Rewind/Weave was a project organized by the Knoxville Museum of Art and visual artist Anne Wilson to investigate the global crisis of production and skill based textile labor. The catalog Anne Wilson: Wind/Rewind/Weave with essays by Glenn Adamson, Jenni Sorkin, Julia Bryan-Wilson, Laura Y. Liu, and Philis Alvic is available for purchase in the museum gift shop, and is now available through distribution by WhiteWalls and the University of Chicago Press.
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The Knoxville Museum of Art The Knoxville Museum of Art celebrates the art and artists of East Tennessee, presents new art and new ideas, serves and educates diverse audiences, and enhances Knoxville’s quality of life.
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