The Weatherspoon Art Museum
at UNC Greensboro announces the acquisition of a major sculpture, Receiver (2019), by renowned artist Huma Bhabha. This remarkable and timely addition to the museum's collection of modern and contemporary art will prompt rich conversations concerning the issues it raises around communication, environmentalism, and popular culture, among others.
Huma Bhabhas Receiver is a work of magnificent literal and figurative proportionswe could not be more excited or grateful to welcome it into the Weatherspoon courtyard, says Juliette Bianco, the museums Anne and Ben Cone Memorial Endowed Director. Being open to receiving is a start for human cooperation. We hope that this sculpture, stepping into the Weatherspoon space with all of us, embodies that connectedness and becomes a marker of the museum experience.
The museum staff invites the community to hear from the artist and celebrate the dedication of this monumental artwork in the Weatherspoon's sculpture courtyard on April 14. The event is free and open to all.
Drawing equally from classical precedents such as ancient Egyptian and Greek sculpture and modern referents such as science fiction films, Huma Bhabha crafts enigmatic beings that engage our notions of humanity and our understanding of self and other. Bhabhas figures greet us as mysterious time travelers, raising many questions. Is that grin gleeful or mischievous? Did this creature arrive here from the past or the future? Was it exhumed from an archeological dig or dropped down from a spaceship? Is it more human or divine, monster or alien?
In addition to these human involvements, Bhabha is also concerned with how we interact with the environment, and specifically the waste we produce and our inability to see the beauty and usefulness in the discarded. Countering these habits, she crafts her sculptures from found cork, Styrofoam, and other abandoned materials that she assembles, carves, and then casts in bronze. Receiver retains the textures of these materials, as well as additional marks added with paintbits of red that suggest painted toenails and dabs of green and yellow that recall both graffiti and body art.
How one interprets these elements will depend on the personal and cultural contexts one brings to the encounter. When Receiver was installed at a busy intersection in Wakefield, England, in 2019, Bhabha said, I like that its at a crossroads so its almost like a traveler, a receiver, with people driving, walking, stopping by. The Weatherspoon Art Museum, as a meeting place for campus and community engagement at an institution for higher education, is another kind of crossroads that offers an equally tantalizing opportunity for contemplation. As Weatherspoon curator Emily Stamey notes, The museum staff is excited to see how this artwork will spark engagement with faculty and students from across an array of disciplinesfrom anthropology to art history, English to environmental studies, media studies to history and religion.
Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, and now based in Poughkeepsie, New York, artist Huma Bhabha moved to the United States in 1981 and received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and her MFA from Columbia University. In 2018, Bhabha was selected to create a site-specific installation for the Metropolitan Museum of Arts roof garden, and her monumental work there, titled We Come in Peace, addressed themes of colonialism, war, displacement, and memories of place. Bhabhas art is represented in the collections of the Bronx Museum, New York (NY); Centres Georges Pompidou, Paris (FR); the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (CA); the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (CA); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (NY); the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (NY); the Sharjah Art Foundation (UAE); Tate, London (UK); the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (NY); and the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven (CT), among many others.
On Friday, April 14, at 4:30pm, Bhabha will talk about her work in the Margaret and Bill Benjamin Auditorium in the Weatherspoon Art Museum. A reception will follow in the sculpture courtyard from 5:30 to 7pm, with dedication remarks at 6pm.
Huma Bhabhas Receiver comes to the Weatherspoon thanks in part to the generous support of the Tannenbaum-Sternberger Foundation in memory of long-time museum supporter Leah Louise B. Tannenbaum.