Laura Owens collaborates with local teens for first exhibition in her native Northeast Ohio

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Laura Owens collaborates with local teens for first exhibition in her native Northeast Ohio
Laura Owens (American, b. 1970), Untitled, 1995. Acrylic, oil, enamel, marker, and ink on canvas; 72.25 x 84.25 in. © Laura Owens. Courtesy of the artist; Sadie Coles HQ, London; and Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne. Photography by Douglas M. Parker Studio.

CLEVELAND, OH.- Celebrated for a wide-ranging and experimental approach to painting that embraces a breadth of sources, Laura Owens returns to her native Northeast Ohio for her first exhibition in the region, Laura Owens: Rerun. Organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art, Laura Owens: Rerun is a collaboration with high school students participating in the CMA’s Arts Mastery program, Currently Under Curation (CUC). The exhibition features new and existing works by the artist that the Currently Under Curation teens have selected to explore the theme of time travel. Laura Owens: Rerun is on view at Transformer Station, the CMA’s sister contemporary art museum, from February 27 to May 30, 2021.

Currently based in Los Angeles, Owens grew up in Norwalk, Ohio, and spent many hours as a teenager studying the Cleveland Museum of Art’s encyclopedic collection. From the earliest days of planning this exhibition, Owens knew she wanted to work with local teenagers as a way to connect her own past and present and to develop a show rooted in Cleveland. Students from the CMA program involved in the exhibition are Jamal Carter, Xyhair Davis, Skylar Fleming, Yomi Gonzalez, Joseph Hlavac, Agatha Mathoslah, Arica McKinney, Maya Peroune, and Deonta Steele.

“Over the past two and a half decades, Laura Owens has become one of the most influential painters of her generation,” said William Griswold, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “The artist’s partnership with her teen collaborators has resulted in a remarkable new exhibition relating to the premise of time travel, in which she reflects on her own past and imagines new and future possibilities.”

In Transformer Station’s main gallery, time travel is animated through well known works by Owens that span her career. They are shown alongside the artist’s own art from high school, presented publicly for the first time. The Crane Gallery features a new site-specific installation of Owens’ unique handmade wallpaper. Laura Owens: Rerun also presents objects from the CMA’s Education Art Collection.

“This exhibition is the culmination of an inspired and inspiring collaboration between Laura Owens and the CUC teens,” said Emily Liebert, CMA curator of contemporary art. “Laura has given the teens a window into the practice of one of the most influential artists working today. The teens have brought their curiosity, energy and insights to animate this collaboration every step of the way.”

Starting in 2018, Owens and the CUC teens held bi-monthly meetings in which they discussed their interests; high school art of the past, present, and future; memes featuring artworks; and time travel, among other topics. These conversations were the inspiration for Owens’ site-specific, bespoke wallpaper installation in the Crane Gallery. In these meetings, Owens and the CUC teens also explored the CMA’s Education Art Collection, which includes more than 10,000 pieces from many different eras and regions of the world and was created to be shared with Cleveland area schools for educational purposes. A group of objects from the collection were selected to be exhibited in relationship with the work of Laura Owens. Owens’ wallpaper installation incorporates images of many objects from the collection that she discussed with the CUC high school students.

As part of this project, Owens and the teen curators also created a time capsule that will be buried in the education department’s archive for ten years, not to be opened until 2031. The time capsule is designed by Owens and will house content selected by the teen group.

“The cross-generational conversation with the CUC high school students was one of the most productive and inspiring collaborations I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of. Their influence on the work I’ve made for this show can’t be underestimated,” said Owens. “I owe a debt of gratitude to the teens for their thoughtfulness and the generosity with which they shared their excitement and ideas. The buoyancy of our inspirational conversation kept me afloat through the COVID pandemic.”

Owens (born 1970, Euclid, Ohio) was recently the subject of a mid-career retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2017–18), which traveled to the Dallas Museum of Art (2018) and The Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2018–19). Other recent solo exhibitions were at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2016); Secession, Vienna (2015); and Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany (2011). Owens studied at the California Institute of the Arts and the Rhode Island School of Design. In 2021 Owens will also present a dual exhibition Laura Owens & Vincent van Gogh at Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles, France.

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