Acclaimed Boston-born artist Lorraine OGrady unveils her adapted autobiographical work The Strange Taxi, Stretched (2020) as the latest installation featured on the Gardner Museum
s Anne H. Fitzpatrick Façade. The Strange Taxi, Stretched will be on view through May 19, 2020.
The work is an adaptation of one of two autobiographical photomontages made in 1991 by OGrady to depict and clarify her New England and Caribbean heritagesThe Strange Taxi: or From Africa to Jamaica to Boston in 200 Years and The Fir-Palm (1991). In both the original and newly stretched versions of The Strange Taxi, OGrady features female members of her own family: her mother, Lena (second from left) and three aunts.
The four figures emerge through the roof of a classic New England mansion, representing black women escaping from the limitations placed on them in a postWorld War I Boston, when domestic service was virtually the only employment available to them. In the images stretched version for the Gardner, OGrady doubles the height of the sky above them, metaphorically giving the womenand their descendantsexpanded room to grow. OGradys piece for the Gardners Façade was selected to work in dialogue with the exhibition Bostons Apollo: Thomas McKeller and John Singer Sargent, opening February 13, 2020 in the Museums Hostetter Gallery.
For the first time, exhibitions across the Museums Hostetter and Fenway Galleries, and the Anne H. Fitzpatrick Façade, will be in thematic dialogue with one another, connecting the art of the past and present. The Strange Taxi, Stretched will be joined by concurrent exhibitionsBostons Apollo, and Adam Pendletons Elements of Meeach of which delve into black and brown lived experiences, past and present, to expand the story of American Art.
OGrady is among those who contributed an essay for the Bostons Apollo catalogue, and on February 15 (3 - 5 PM), both OGrady and Pendleton will lead REDEFINED: The Black Model in 21st-Century Portraiture, a discussion of body, race, and gender in American Art and the need to rethink, document, and preserve diverse histories.
Lorraine OGrady has been the subject of numerous one-person exhibitions, featured at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MFA) and Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Monastery de Santa María de las Cuevas, Seville, Spain (2016); among others. She has been a resident artist at Artpace San Antonio, TX, and has received numerous other awards, including a 2015 Creative Capital Award in Visual Art, a Creative Capital Grant, the CAA Distinguished Feminist Award, a Life Time Achievement Award from Howard University, an Art Matters grant, and the Anonymous Was A Woman award, as well as being named a United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow. Most recently, she was honored with a Skowhegan Medal (2019) and the Francis J. Greenburger award (2017).
In addition to her work as a visual artist, OGrady is also a writer whose contributions to cultural criticism include the now-canonical article, Olympia's Maid: Reclaiming Black Female Subjectivity. Her essay NOTES on Living a Translated Life, written for the Bostons Apollo: Thomas McKeller and John Singer Sargent catalogue, is fairly autobiographical and imagines how her family's life and that of Thomas McKeller relate. A book of her collected writings, Lorraine OGrady: Writing in Space, published by Duke University Press, will be released in 2020.