Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts presents two new exhibitions

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Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts presents two new exhibitions
Installation view of Elisabeth Kley: Minutes of Sand, 2022 at Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. Courtesy of the artist and Bemis Center. Photography by Colin Conces.

OMAHA, NEB.- Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts presents two new exhibitions; Elisabeth Kley: Minutes of Sand and Opulence: Performative Wealth and the Failed American Dream on view from December 9, 2022 through April 16, 2023. Minutes of Sand showcases Kley’s ceramics alongside print yardage which was created while in-residence at The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, PA. Opulence: Performative Wealth and the Failed American Dream is a group exhibition celebrating lavish, decadent aesthetics while exploring the socioeconomic conditions that drive some within marginalized communities to revel in them.

Elisabeth Kley’s work sits at the distinctive confluence of pattern, decoration, and contemporary art. Known for her black-and-white patterns featured in ceramics, drawings, paintings, and site-specific installations, the artist draws inspiration from motifs featured in ornamentation, architecture, interior decoration, and a myriad of global art traditions. Merging the ancient and modern, Kley translates these fragments into an interdisciplinary practice conveying ideas of opulence and mystery.

Elisabeth Kley: Minutes of Sand was organized by The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) and presented in 2021 as the artist’s first solo museum exhibition. Invited to print yardage utilizing FWM's world-renowned screen-printing facilities, Kley worked to interweave her ceramic and painting practices with three new yardage designs and a new suite of ceramic sculpture for this exhibition. Bemis Center will showcase this entirely new body of work that has only been previously viewed in Philadelphia. A catalogue for the exhibition, co-produced by Bemis Center, The Fabric Workshop and Museum, and Canada Gallery will be released in April 2023.

“We are thrilled to introduce our community to Elisabeth Kley’s dynamic work, which is inspired by a multitude of global histories - from Islamic tile work to Egyptian hieroglyphics and Roman frescoes and mosaics to Wiener Wekstätte textile designs,” says Rachel Adams, Bemis Center Chief Curator and Director of Programs. “This exhibition highlights the intersection of design with two distinct mediums – ceramics and printmaking. By joining forces with The Fabric Workshop and Museum, we spotlight Elisabeth Kley's important interdisciplinary practice. Collaborating with the FWM, which, like Bemis Center, has continued to support artistic process and experimentation since 1977, is key to highlighting how artist residencies continue to impact and support artistic practice.”

Opulence: Performative Wealth and the Failed American Dream assembles diverse artistic practices – including, painting, sculpture, ceramics, video, nail art, and fashion – to examine how America’s obsession with wealth and the ways it is displayed shapes class, race, and gender. Foregrounding questions around how identities are constructed and performed through material and imagery, the works in this exhibition employ sumptuous aesthetics to critique how systemic barriers deny some communities access to wealth, hindering social mobility.

Opulence: Performative Wealth and the Failed American Dream includes artists Larry Buller, Caitlin Cherry, Max Colby, Yvette Mayorga, Rashaad Newsome, Faleasha Savage, Devan Shimoyama, and Imagine Uhlenbrock. These artists are acutely aware of how notions of ‘good taste’ can possibly signal wealth and regulate access to it.
Their works often toy with high and low culture to challenge the way taste sustains hierarchies of status and power.

“When framed in conversation with each other, the works in this exhibition offer both a sumptuous, visually exciting experience as well as thoughtful commentary on social and economic challenges facing the United States. History shows that artwork can have a great impact when fusing sensorial pleasure and politics. Bemis is proud to present artists who exemplify that tradition,” says exhibition curator Jared Packard.

This exhibition is pleased to spotlight artistry not typically framed in the context of contemporary art. Faleasha Savage, a nationally celebrated, Omaha-based drag queen, shares the extravagance and intimacies of her wardrobe and performance practice. Similarly, Imagine Uhlenbrock, an entrepreneur and gifted nail artist, will operate her business out of a nail salon-as-art-installation within Bemis Center’s galleries for the duration of the exhibition. Visitors are encouraged to schedule an appointment to bedazzle their nails directly with the

Opulence: Performative Wealth and the Failed American Dream is curated by Jared Packard, Bemis Center Exhibitions Manager.

Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts facilitates the creation, presentation, and understanding of contemporary art through an international residency program, exhibitions, and educational programs to inspire an open and diverse dialogue on the critical issues that give shape and meaning to the human condition.

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