SBCC’s Atkinson Gallery to host ‘What is America?’ exhibition

SBCC’s Atkinson Gallery to host ‘What is America?’ exhibition
February 15, 2022

SBCC’s Atkinson Gallery to host ‘What is America?’ exhibition

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (February 15, 2022) — The Atkinson Gallery at Santa Barbara City College is pleased to present “What is America?”, a group exhibition featuring three artists whose works explore concepts of American identity: Zoe Leonard, Glenn Ligon and Felix Gonzalez-Torres. The opening reception is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 24, 3:30 - 5:30 p.m. and the show will run Feb. 24-Apr. 1. 

Felix Gonzalez-Torres is a Cuban-born American artist who uses conceptual ideas of uniqueness and multiplicity to investigate the value of materiality and ownership. His works often employ common materials, such as wrapped candies, printed paper, plastic beads and light bulbs to create multi-layered sculptures and installations. Many of his works are interactive and endlessly reproducible, and can exist in more than one location at a time despite their identification as unique. Other artworks, such as those from his light strings series, are often indistinguishable from each other physically. In both types of work it is the manner of installation that completes the piece. 

Zoe Leonard is a New York-based photographer and sculptor whose work embraces a conceptual framework using repetition, shifting perspectives and various printing processes. Leonard's practice examines the politics of representation and display, exploring themes such as gender and sexuality, loss and mourning, migration, displacement and the urban landscape. Her photo-based work specifically invites the viewer to contemplate the medium’s role in constructing history and exposes the roots of today’s contemporary photographic culture. More than its focus on any particular subject, however, Leonard's work encourages the viewer to reconsider the act of looking, drawing attention to observation as a complex, ongoing process. 

Glenn Ligon is a New York-based painter and sculptor. His work examines cultural and social identity through found sources — such as literature, coloring books, and photographs — to reveal how the history of slavery, the civil rights movement and sexual politics inform our understanding of American society. Ligon appropriates texts from various literary writers, including Walt Whitman, Jean Genet, Zora Neal Hurston, Jesse Jackson, Gertrude Stein, James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison. In addition, he is known for his ongoing series of stenciled text-based paintings made with various media which draw on the writings and speech of diverse literary and political figures. 

According to Atkinson Gallery Director John Connelly, “This exhibition posits a rhetorical question about cultural identity that has no single or correct answer. Just as identity is malleable and subject to context, the work of Gonzalez-Torres will be re-installed several times and in several locations across campus throughout the run of the exhibition.”

The Gallery extends special thanks to the lenders to the exhibition: Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ work from the collection of Andrea Rosen, courtesy of the Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation; Zoe Leonard’s work courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth; Glenn Ligon’s work courtesy of Private Collection, Courtesy Regen Projects.
For information about required safety protocols, Atkinson Gallery hours and Spring 2022 Art Talks, visit the Atkinson Gallery website.