Barrick Museum’s latest exhibits explore identity, culture and local vision

From Plural: “Doritos” (2016), by Noelle Garcia.

On February 9, the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art will debut its Spring 2018 shows. Three major exhibitions—Plural, Identity Tapestry and Vessel—will display the depth and breadth that Southern Nevada’s premier museum offers. Here’s what to expect:

Plural The Barrick’s permanent collection has always been noteworthy. Plural features new acquisitions from an all-star roster of nearly 50 international artists connected to Las Vegas in some way. “Some of the themes are challenging. Some of the work is aggressive,” Interim Director Alisha Kerlin says. “Plural will make you re-evaluate the quality of art that Las Vegas can provoke.”

More than a year in the making, the show was influenced by the Barrick’s 50th anniversary in 2017. “All of this is still in motion,” the Barrick’s D.K. Sole says. “This is not some sort of triumphant point where we plan to stop; it’s more a suggestion of the direction we hope to travel in the future.”

Sole, in charge of research and educational engagement, asks herself: “How can we prove to a young CCSD tour that they, too, can be artists from Las Vegas, if we’re only showing them work by one group of people?”

The answer: A wide variety of materials, styles, sizes and voices. “We have objects like Andreana Donahue’s paper sculpture, ‘rake,’ made with natural materials from the environment around her in Alaska, as well as more traditional oil-on-canvas figurative work by Gig Depio.” Sole says.

The pieces in Plural range from drawing and photography to costuming and ceramics. Artists include Tim Bavington, Mary Warner, Lance Smith, Krystal Ramirez, JK Russ, Justin Favela, Maureen Halligan, Nancy Good Linda Alterwitz, Mikayla Whitmore, Noelle Garcia and Aaron Sheppard.

Vessel: Ceramics of Ancient West Mexico Archeologist and Barrick staffer Paige Bockman curates this show, with a goal of highlighting the “innovations, skill and intellect that ancient peoples had to possess in order to make these objects.” Because the museum’s collection of artifacts is so vast, she selected only ceramic vessels from west Mexico from 300 BCE to 400 CE. Since the Mayans and Aztecs typically get the most attention, Bockman wanted to study and spotlight this “significant and accomplished” cultural group.

Identity Tapestry In her interactive piece, titled “Identity Tapestry,” California artist Mary Corey March sets the stage for a journey into the self, but it’s up to the viewer to take the steps. The installation begins with a few hundred balls of yarn, hand-dyed different colors and each wrapped around a stone. Think of them as lives yet to be lived. On the wall, more than 200 identity statements proclaim: “I’m attracted to women”; “I’m a mother”; “I have fought in a war”; “I love to cook”; “I have seen someone die.” These represent lived experience.

One at a time, viewers take a yarn-wrapped stone and walk through the statements, wrapping the yarn around each statement that applies. The tapestry forms as each thread of yarn weaves over and under shared individual experiences. “People do it playfully, and then it can get sort of intense,” March says. “It’s not easy to confront difficult ideas.”

Barrick Museum Spring Exhibitions Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. (Thursdays until 8 p.m.); Saturday, noon–5 p.m. Opening reception February 9, 5-9 p.m., UNLV, 702-895-3381.

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