Aug 28, 2015 – Dec 19, 2015
During their prolific collaboration (1985-1995), Kate Ericson and Mel Ziegler produced some of the most profound conceptual art projects of the late twentieth century. Ranging from socially engaged works and site-specific installations to drawings and mixed media sculptures, Ericson and Ziegler redefined public art in a way that was welcoming to a diverse set of communities.
Prior to Ericson’s premature death in 1995, Ericson and Ziegler devised interventions that altered sites subtly, using serial form, poetic language, and wit to illuminate mainstream American contexts and individual community issues. UMOCA’s exhibition, Grandma’s Cupboard, traces the social, political, and aesthetic threads of their practice. Through two parallel surveys, this show highlights important projects from Ericson and Ziegler’s extensive collaboration, along with a selection of works from Ziegler’s solo career.
Ericson and Ziegler’s commitment to the public realm continually provides a platform for conceptual art and social practice outside of the mainstream art world. Their interventionist approach blended playfulness and activism as a way to explore the arcane areas of American history, as well as topics of domesticity, monumentality, and economies of production.
After the passing of Kate Ericson, Mel Ziegler has continued an artistic practice based on the central principles and strategies of their partnership; however his technique has evolved in both form and concept, allowing for a distinct expression of humor, craft, and sensibility in his work. Still working with local iconography, landscape, and culture, Ziegler’s projects encourage alternative understandings of how Americana – as symbol, material, and motif – is represented and experienced throughout regions across the globe.
Mel Ziegler was born in 1956 in Pennsylvania and currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee. He is a professor and chair of the Arts Department at Vanderbilt University. Ziegler’s solo exhibitions include Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones at Galerie Perrotin, Paris (2015); An American Conversation at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Nebraska (2013); Stuffed at Secession, Vienna (2003); The National Museum of Art, Osaka (2001) and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York (2000). In 2005, Kate Ericson and Mel Ziegler’s prolific collaboration was the subject of the major traveling retrospective America Starts Here.
Kate Ericson, born 1955 in New York, died of brain cancer in 1995. Ericson and Ziegler’s collaborative work can be found in the collections of the Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, the Bronx Museum, New York and the Des Moines Art Center, Iowa, among others.
Supported b George S. & Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; and Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks.
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