The Many Hats of Ralph Arnold: Art, Identity & Politics at the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago

The Many Hats of Ralph Arnold: Art, Identity & Politics October 11- December 21, 2018

 Ralph Arnold,  Who You/Yeah Baby , c. 1968. DePaul Art Museum. Reproduced with permission from The Pauls Foundation.

Ralph Arnold, Who You/Yeah Baby, c. 1968. DePaul Art Museum. Reproduced with permission from The Pauls Foundation.

CHICAGO— From October 11 through December 21, 2018, the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago presents The Many Hats of Ralph Arnold: Art, Identity & Politics. During the tumultuous 1960s and 70s, the prolific artist Ralph Arnold made photocollages that appropriated and commented upon mass media portrayals of gender, sexuality, race and politics. Arnold’s complex visual arrangements of photography, painting and text were built upon his own multilayered identity as a black, gay veteran and prominent member of Chicago’s art community, hence the title for the exhibition, which is drawn from one of the artist’s more personal pieces. Arnold participated in some of the era’s most provocative exhibitions yet by the mid-1980s he increasingly focused on his teaching and service to the art community.

This exhibition brings together Arnold’s most significant contributions to the art of collage, including a recently rediscovered triptych made for the 1968 MCA Chicago exhibition, Violence in Recent American Art. It also includes work by contemporaries and colleagues like Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Paschke, and Barbara Jones-Hogu to add further context and enrich our understanding of Arnold’s legacy.

A companion exhibition, titled Echoes: Reframing Collage, also at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, examines the parallels between Arnold’s work and 21st-century photocollage artists like Krista Franklin, Wardell Milan, Ayanah Moor, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, and Xaviera Simmons.

A publication featuring essays by curators and scholars will accompany the exhibitions. Contributors include curator Greg Foster-Rice, Associate Professor of History of Photography, Columbia College Chicago; Karen Irvine, MoCP Deputy Director and Chief Curator; Jacqueline Francis, Associate Professor of Art History, California College of Arts; Aaron Cohen, independent scholar; Keith Morrison, Associate Professor of Art, Temple University; Timothy Stewart-Winter, Associate Professor of History, Rutgers University; Rebecca Zorach, Professor of Art History, Northwestern University; and Sheridan Tucker Anderson, MoCP Curatorial Fellow for Diversity in the Arts.

MoCP is supported by Columbia College Chicago, the MoCP Advisory Board, the Museum Council, individuals, and private and corporate foundations. The 2017-2018 exhibition season is generously sponsored by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Efroymson Family Fund, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency. The Many Hats of Ralph Arnold: Art, Identity & Politics is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Additional support is provided by a travel and research-specific grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and by the Chicago Community Trust.

The Many Hats of Ralph Arnold: Art, Identity & Politics is part of Art Design Chicago, an exploration of Chicago’s art and design legacy, an initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art with presenting partner The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.


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