March 10-July 7, 2024
Does art play an active role in identifying and revealing the realities of contemporary life? Conversely, how do present-day challenges in the world affect the choices that artists make in their studios? While these questions have no clear or easy answers, the exhibition Impact: Contemporary Artists at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, presented at Sarasota Art Museum, hopes to expand upon conventional ideas of art’s impact on our daily lives through the presentation of recent works made by 10 U.S.-based artists: Diana Al-Hadid, Sanford Biggers, Chitra Ganesh, Todd Gray, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Michelle Lopez, Ted Riederer, John Sims, Kukuli Velarde, and William Villalongo.
Working across a broad range of materials and techniques, including sculpture, painting, installation, video, photography, printmaking, ceramics, textiles, and social practice, each artist in Impact is represented by examples of their work that address established social, cultural, and philosophical boundaries of creative expression within the visual arts. For several participating artists, their work reflects upon core issues of history and identity, as in the case of Sanford Biggers’ loving appropriation of vintage African-American quilts, John Sims’ intense exploration of Confederate ideology, or Kukuli Velarde’s intricate fusion of Catholicism with Indigenous religion. Even artists working in an abstract mode, such as Diana Al-Hadid and Michele Lopez, still rely on architectural metaphors to make reference to the state of the world, while Ted Riederer’s participatory project, Never Records (2010-present), empowers members of the public to make a vinyl record they can take home with them.
A key factor these 10 artists share in common: over the past two decades, each has accepted an invitation to attend an artist residency at the historic beachfront campus of the Hermitage Artist Retreat on Manasota Key—a unique experience that contributed to each of their creative processes in a variety of ways. An even more evident thread running through their works is a collective desire to explore and reveal the ways in which art can represent concepts and situations that reflect and engage their viewers’ (and their own) experience of the world around them. Organized by guest curator and former Hermitage Curatorial Council member Dan Cameron, Impact also represents the first collaboration between the Hermitage and Sarasota Art Museum.