by Grace Hatton, Reverb Editor
On Oct. 11 Holden Gallery will open its doors for the exhibition Work by multimedia artist Jefferson Pinder. Pinder is an artist who works with film and videos and is currently teaching at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His exhibitions have been seen in museums and galleries around the globe including The Studio Museum in Harlem, the Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, and the Zacheta National Gallery in Warsaw, Poland.
The curator of the Work exhibition is Art Professor Julie Caro who connected with Pinder earlier this year as he is set to be a speaker on a panel about diversity in art history classes that Caro is organizing. Around the same time Caro connected with Pinder she discovered there was an opening for an exhibition this semester and Caro deemed Pinder as a good choice to fill that spot.
In thinking about bringing Pinder to campus Caro was influenced by Candace Taylor’s choices of plays for the fall semester in the Theatre Department, both of which deal with issues of racial identity.
“I wanted the Gallery and art department to contribute to that campus conversation,” says Caro.
Many of Pinder’s short films use African American actors as well as Pinder himself in the roles. There is often no dialogue and tribal music plays in many of the videos. One of Pinder’s best known pieces, Ben Hur, was set in the Corcoran Museum in Washington D.C. It was a performance piece where six African American men dressed in white shirts, black ties and black pants sat on a long thing stage in the middle of the museum and began to pull on rowing machines in unison until they physically couldn’t pull anymore. Ben Hur is considered to be a piece about social ideas surrounding masculinity and skin color.
Racial identity has been a major theme in Pinder’s work but he also explores other themes such as work and the sometimes futile nature of it.
“While Pinder’s works definitely express ideas of race, gender and class identity, specifically issues of social mobility and struggle, that is not all they are about,” says Caro “His work touches on universal themes, including the idea of work itself as a metaphor for other things. The way in which Pinder’s artworks, many of which display his body or other black bodies engaging in acts of extreme physical exertion and using those performances as metaphors for ideas of social struggle was interesting to me in the context of our campus as a work college.”
Work is the first time a video only exhibition has been show in Holden Gallery and in preparation for Work Holden Gallery has been transformed into a large screening room. The Carpentry crew has built a 16-foot wide by 12-foot high wall and the paint crew has painted it white to serve a large screen. Fine woodworking is currently making the gallery a set of benches for seating. And in addition the Holden Art crew has been studying Pinder’s work and preparing to serve as gallery guides during the run of the show.
The Work exhibition will be featuring videos from Pinder’s Inertia Cycle series, which is a series of videos in which Pinder is documenting intense physical tasks as an abstract metaphor for social struggle, as well as videos from his Performing Identities series. These two video series will be shown on alternating weeks throughout the Work exhibition which lasts from Oct. 11 through Nov. 19.
Caro hopes the subject of the exhibition and the multimedia nature of Pinder’s art will drawn students to the gallery.
“I have a vision that students will engage with this artwork in many contexts including seeing how a visual artist conceptualizes the idea of work in new ways in his art,” says Caro “Perhaps work crews will visit the exhibition and then talk about it while they are at work.”
Work will open on Oct. 11 with the exhibition opening reception taking place from 6pm-9pm in the gallery. On Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. in Holden auditorium there will be a curator’s talk with Caro and on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. in Cannon Lounge there will be an artist talk and reception with Pinder himself. All students are welcome to attend these events and visit Work during the Holden Gallery hours which are Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sundays, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.