Kemper Museum announces five upcoming eclectic exhibits

Photograph by Julie Blackmon

Julie Blackmon, (American, born 1966), “Records,” 2021, archival pigment print.

Kansas Citians can look forward to a new year of exhibits at the Kemper, KC’s free contemporary art museum—and our state’s first contemporary art museum.

The Kemper is known for its immersive and diverse rotation of exhibits. For example, read Emily Cox’s feature from March of this year on Natalie Frank’s Unbound exhibit.

Covering a broad scope of conceptual, cultural, and geographic subjects, the 2023 exhibitions explore settings from dub nightclubs in London to backyards in Missouri and take on concepts from identity to archaeology and spiritual thought. A range of creative programming will be developed to provide opportunities for meaningful engagement with each exhibition.

If you’re looking for a meaningful gift this holiday season for the art lovers in your life, consider a membership that includes invitations to special exhibit openings (and that would help keep the museum and its public programs free.)

Find more details at the links below.

“Denzil Forrester: Duppy Conqueror” | January 27–May 7, 2023

Oil painting by Denzil Forrester

Denzil Forrester (Grenadian-British, born 1956), “Night Flames,” 2012, oil on canvas, 42 x 66⅛ inches. © Denzil Forrester. Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Photo: Mark Blower.

This exhibition presents thirty years of expressive paintings and drawings by Cornwall, UK–based artist Denzil Forrester MBE (Grenadian-British, born 1956). Taking inspiration from London’s dub reggae culture and clubs of the 1980s, Forrester’s working process can be compared to creating versions or reconfigurations of the same music track. Forrester’s numerous sketches from this period, made in the semi-darkness of urban dancehalls, continue to inform his paintings today. References to the diaspora, dub reggae, and the policing of Black cultural expression reverberate like a refrain throughout his practice.

Reginald Sylvester II Solo Exhibition | March 17–June 25, 2023

Multimedia artwork by Reginald Sylvester II

Reginald Sylvester II (American, born 1987), “Offering IX,” 2022, acrylic, paper, tarp and rubber over wood, 60 x 72 inches. Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Gift of Private Collection, 2022.7. © Reginald Sylvester II. Image courtesy the artist and Maximillian William, London. Photo: Daniel Greer.

Green Gate brings together paintings, drawing, and sculpture by New York-based artist Reginald Sylvester II (born North Carolina, 1987, lives and works in Brooklyn, NY). Taking inspiration from abstract expressionism, contemporary design, and theological traditions, Sylvester’s working process follows a trajectory from muse to mark making. Taking meditative walks around New York City with an open mindset led Sylvester to a green gate from which ideas about passage, Black bodies, radiated green light, and spiritual resonance are explored in his recent abstract work.

“Virginia Jaramillo: Principle of Equivalence” | June 2–August 27, 20

Black and white acrylic painting by Virginia Jaramillo

Virginia Jaramillo (American, born 1939), “Site: No. 3 51.1789° N, 1.8262° W,” 2018 acrylic on canvas 72 x 72 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Hales, London and New York. © Virginia Jaramillo. Image courtesy of the artist and Hales, London and New York. Photo: JSP Art Photography.

“Principle of Equivalence” is the first major retrospective exhibition of work by New York-based artist Virginia Jaramillo (Mexican American, born 1939), presenting a selection of seventy-three paintings and handmade paper works over nearly seventy years. Tracing the impact of Jaramillo’s practice, in which postwar abstraction with physics, science and the cosmos, archaeology and mythology, and modernist design philosophies collide, this exhibition sheds light on her career and situates it within the larger narrative of American abstract art. For decades, Jaramillo’s work has been celebrated internationally in groundbreaking group exhibitions including “The De Luxe Show.” in 1971, one of the first major racially integrated exhibitions in the United States. Jaramillo also has an exhibition history in Kansas City that stretches back to the late 1970s. Her work was featured in Kemper Museum’s debut exhibition in 1994 and is represented in local permanent collections including Kemper Museum, Spencer Museum, Daum Museum, and as well as in the Hallmark Collection.  A full-color catalog in conjunction with this exhibition will be distributed by Yale University Press.

2023 Atrium Project: Sarah Zapata | August 18, 2023–July 28, 2024

Installation art by Sarah Zapata

Sarah Zapata (Peruvian American, born 1988), “A resilience of things not seen,” 2021–2022, natural and synthetic fiber, handwoven cloth, dimensions variable, Installation at John Michael Kohler Art Center. © Sarah Zapata. Image courtesy of the artist and JMKAC.

Kemper Museum’s eighth annual Atrium Project commission will feature a large-scale installation by New York-based artist Sarah Zapata (Peruvian American, born 1988). Zapata creates vibrant and inviting installations using a combination of textile techniques that engage her Texan and Peruvian cultural traditions, as well as concepts of gender, labor, and identity. Challenging hierarchies in the arts through her methods and materials, the artist often animates the experience and understanding of her work by incorporating tactile elements or performance, turning viewers into participants. The Atrium Project is an annual series of commissioned, site-responsive projects that presents the work of emerging and mid-career Hispanic and Latinx artists.

Julie Blackmon Solo Exhibition | September 15, 2023–January 7, 2024

Photograph by Julie Blackmon

Julie Blackmon, (American, born 1966), “Records,” 2021, archival pigment print.

Julie Blackmon (American, born 1966) has centered her life and career in and around Springfield, Missouri. This exhibition focuses on the last decade of her photographic practice showing scenes depicting family, community, and landscape deeply rooted in the artist’s Midwestern cultural heritage. The conflation of art and life—particularly the everyday life of her family at home in Missouri—has been the continued subject of her photographic work. Blackmon uses her surroundings to engage broader ideas of family dynamic, social space, and art historical references. Her photographs are inspired by growing up in a large family in what she calls “a generic town in the middle of the U.S.” While her scenes feature the artist’s family and are inspired by the realities of everyday life, her works are conceptual, fictitious, and highly directed to comment on common themes of contemporary life. Her multi-dimensional scenes combine portraiture and narrative, and explore the complexity of broad subjects like play and wonder.

Categories: Art