Upcoming Exhibitions at the Saint Louis Art Museum And The Griot Museum

Starting early summer and ending in the fall, the Saint Louis Art Museum (SLAM) has three new upcoming exhibits. 

  “Catching the Moment: Contemporary Art from the Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons Collection” will be featured from June 26 until September 11 for ten dollars per student. 

   Composed primarily of prints, the collection will feature more than 40 contemporary artists and around 200 selections. It will be a novel addition to the Museum’s collection of paper and American art from the last sixty years, as well as critiques on social, political and art historical issues. The exhibit will feature works from Kiki Smith, a German-American artist known for her figural representations of sexuality, birth, and the relationship between the human condition and natural realm; Enrique Chagoya, a Mexican-American artist, known for his paintings and printmaking that address secular and religious symbols relating to the cultural discord between the United States and Latin America as well as the subject of colonialism and oppression in American foreign policy; and Tom Huck, a Missouri-born American printmaker known for his large woodcuts influenced by Albrecht Durer, Jose Guadalope Posada, R. Crumb and Honore Daumier.

   The collection will add a contemporary American perspective to the Museum that has only been seen in this field in its more recent exhibitions and collections. 

   “Day & Dream in Modern Germany, 1914-1945” from The Sidney S. and Sadie M. Cohen Gallery will be featured from Aug. 26 until Feb. 26. The collection will feature a selection of prints, photographs, drawings and watercolors that inquire on the relationship between art, the visible realm, and contemporary society influenced by German art from the activist realism to utopian idealism of artists that were influenced by the events in the first half of the twentieth century in Germany. 

   The title is based on Max Beckmann’s 1946 lithographic portfolio “Day & Dream” which featured his surrealistic fantasy world. The collection will feature Renee Sintenis, a German sculptor who focused her artwork on sexuality and nature, known for her sculptures of athletes, nude females and young animals that embodied her character as the 1920s New Woman with short hair and clothing, independent lifestyle and sexual liberation, and Walter Grammate, a German painter known for his symbolism, expressionism and surrealism paintings influenced by his mystical view of nature from traveling throughout Europe. 

   “Liliana Porter: Fox in the Mirror” will be featured on May 6 until Sept. 11. Composed as a video by Liliana Porter, a Argentine artist known for repurposed objects found in flea markets, antique stores, etc. that appear as insubstantial ornaments but offer a perspective of the imaginative artist’s process and narration of inanimate objects. The video, in collaboration with Sylvia Meyer’s music, features mechanically theatrical figurines and animals that address humans’ range of emotions while juxtaposing political imagery in apolitical objects. Like “Catching the Moment,” Liliana Porter’s exhibition will add a contemporary Latin-American perspective to the Museum. Both exhibitions question the human condition and culture, while “Catching the Moment” and “Day & Dream” both question the natural realm and contemporary society. 

   The Griot Museum of Black History is located in St. Louis, only two miles north of SLU. It was originally named The Black World History Wax Museum. The name originates from the idea of the West African griot, who is responsible for collecting and preserving the history of the births, deaths and marriages that are relevant to their community through oral traditions. Like the West African griot, the museum collects and preserves the narratives, culture and history of Black people. The Museum contains collections with wax figures, artifacts and memorabilia of Black individuals who have contributed to America’s progression and their regional connection to the Midwest and American history. For a small fee, visitors can walk through the main exhibits that include wax figures, artifacts and memorabilia allowing them to interact with the art and learn about Carter G. Woodson, Josephine Baker, James Milton Turner, the Reverend Earl. E Nance Senior and more Black figures of the last two centuries. The museum also includes an authentic slave cabin from the Jonesburg Wright-Smith plantation where visitors can interact with the cabin by walking inside and imagining the circumstances and personal lives of enslaved families. As well, visitors can walk through a model section of a slave ship from the Transatlantic Slave Trade and again imagine the conditions slaves had to endure upon being transported to the Americas. As a result, the museum allows visitors to not only view the art like SLAM, but to interact with it, creating a more personal viewing and understanding of the art rather than an observatory, reflective interpretation. At the Griot, a visitor is a part of the artistic process and interaction. 

   Both the upcoming exhibits at SLAM and the Griot Museum offer students an opportunity to experience American art in two different forms, one being contemporary and visual, the other being historical and interactive. During the summer, students can visit both museums for a small fee, allowing them to compare and contrast the wax figurines and memorabilia offered at the Griot that differ from the prints, photographs, drawings, watercolors, objects and videos offered at SLAM.