Des Moines Art Center features British artist Susan Collis in first solo museum exhibition in the U.S.

Posted on Friday, January 11, 2019

For Immediate Release
Contact: Barbara Briggie-Smith
Tel: 515.271.0343

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Des Moines Art Center features British artist Susan Collis in first solo museum exhibition in the U.S.

DES MOINES, IOWA (January 2019) – On Saturday, January 26, 2019 the Des Moines Art Center will open Susan Collis: Without you the world goes on. The exhibition will be on view through May 12, 2019 in the Anna K. Meredith Gallery. Susan Collis: Without you the world goes on will feature approximately 40 works by Collis. This will be Collis’ first solo museum exhibition in the United States. The artist will also create two site-specific works for the Des Moines Art Center presentation.

When entering into an exhibition featuring Susan Collis’ artwork, one might think they arrived on the wrong day — there appears to be no art and it looks like the installation crew has stepped out for a break. A rickety old stepladder accompanied by a drop cloth, both spattered with drips of paint, sits nearby. Visitors with an eye for detail, however, will pause. Upon closer inspection, they’ll discover that the paint drips on the ladder are not paint but precious gems — opals, pearls, coral, and turquoise — meticulously inlaid in the wood. Likewise, the paint drips on the drop cloth are beautifully hand-stitched silk embroidery. Further inspection yields more surprises: nails and screws are made from platinum and white gold; packing blankets are handwoven with mohair, cashmere, and gold thread; and scraps of what appears to be ordinary wood like pine or maple are exotic, including white holly, red cedar, and walnut. Discovering the installation supplies are actually the works of art, and realizing these seemingly ordinary objects have been made from or altered with precious materials, gives a jolt of excitement — as if let in on a secret.

Collis’s works are about time, materials, labor, and value. They are replete with conceptual ideas and full of rich, poetic, intrinsic contradictions. For instance, she questions why expensive materials employed to make a work of art determine its value — by using valuable materials to make her own work. She complicates the assumption that the time invested in making a work of art impacts the object’s value — while investing a considerable amount of her own labor to create objects that may easily go unnoticed. Her work questions the structures and methods of its own production, as well as viewers’ assumptions about artistic production and display.

Susan Collis: Without you the world goes on is organized by Director of Curatorial Affairs/Senior Curator Alison Ferris. A full color catalogue will accompany the exhibition including an interview between the artist and Ferris, as well as an essay by curator, writer, and art historian Glenn Adamson, one of the most prominent scholars writing about craft and material-based art today.

About the Des Moines Art Center

Recognized by international art critics as a world-class museum in the heart of the Midwest, the Des Moines Art Center has amassed an important collection with a major emphasis on contemporary art. The collection’s overriding principle is a representation of artists from the 19th century to the present, each through a seminal work. This accounts for an impressive collection that ranges from Edward Hopper’s Automat to Jasper Johns’ Tennyson, Henri Matisse’s Woman in White, Georgia O’Keeffe’s From the Lake No. 1, Francis Bacon’s Study after Velásquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, Bill Viola’s Ascension, and Cecily Brown’s Half-Bind.

The Art Center’s physical complex marries with the collection for a totally integrated experience. The collection is housed in three major buildings, each designed by a world-renowned architect – Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei, and Richard Meier. With the exception of special events, admission to the museum is free.

In September 2009, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park opened in Des Moines’ Western Gateway Park. Philanthropists John and Mary Pappajohn have provided funding for and donated 28 sculptures by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists to the Des Moines Art Center. The collection of sculptures by such artists as Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Butterfield, Willem de Kooning, Olafur Eliasson, Keith Haring, Ellsworth Kelly, Jaume Plensa, Richard Serra, Joel Shapiro, and Mark di Suvero, is the most significant donation of artwork to the Art Center in a single gift in the museum’s history. The Pappajohn Sculpture Park was created in collaboration with the Pappajohns, the City of Des Moines, the Des Moines Art Center, and numerous corporate and private donors.

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