Tony Lewis awarded 2017-2018 Ruth Ann and Nathan Perlmutter Artist-in-Residence Award

talkative painting by tony lewisPhotos/Massimo Di Carlo

"Talkative" by Tony Lewis

The Rose Art Museum is pleased to name Chicago-based Tony Lewis as the recipient of the 2017-2018 Ruth Ann and Nathan Perlmutter Artist-in-Residence Award. For his Perlmutter residency, Lewis will create a new site-specific mural for the outward-facing wall of the museum’s Lois Foster Wing. This work, entitled Plunder, grows out of his ongoing investigations of the relationships between drawing, abstraction, and language.

The artist’s first solo museum presentation in the Northeast, Lewis’s mural will be created on site Oct. 8–13 with assistance from Brandeis University students.

The installation will be on view Oct. 15, 2017 through June 10, 2018, with an opening celebration of Lewis’s project and the Rose Art Museum’s fall exhibitions on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, from 6-9 p.m.

Drilling screws into the wall and stretching graphite-dipped rubber bands in between, Lewis will create a large line drawing in the form of a Gregg shorthand notation, the stenographic script similar to abbreviated cursive. Rising in loose arcs across the expanse of the Foster wall, this line is an abstracted symbol of the word "plunder," from which the work takes its name.

Lewis’s focus on this term follows his reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 2015 book Between the World and Me.

As Coates writes: “The plunder of black life was drilled into this country in its infancy and reinforced across its history, so that plunder has become an heirloom, an intelligence, a sentience, a default setting to which, likely to the end of our days, we must invariably return.”

Lewis’s laborious process anchors this word into the museum’s architectural support, rendering a solid and sooty gash in a dense web of rubber bands and metallic screws. Despite the destructive bent of the word it denotes, however, this shorthand form lifts in an elegant, and seemingly optimistic, rise. Imbued with nuanced political overtones, Lewis’ work ruminates on a vocabulary of abstraction: both the connections between symbol and meaning, and the systems of power that are equally revealed and disguised by language.

Established through the generosity of Ruth Ann Perlmutter and given in recognition of an emerging artist’s achievement, the Perlmutter Award will support Lewis’ residency on campus, allowing Brandeis University students to work closely with an artist on the cusp of greater acclaim.

"We thank Ruth Ann Perlmutter for her generous support of the Rose and for enabling us to bring Tony Lewis to Brandeis this year,” said Luis Croquer, the Henry and Lois Foster Director of the Rose. “The Perlmutter Award allows the Rose to promote and explore the work of artists poised to have a lasting impact in their field. Lewis’s residency and work promises to have especial resonance within our university community, where interdisciplinary dialogues about race and power are, given our political context, now more critical than ever.”

Categories: Arts, General

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