Frye Art Museum

Winner of the 2008 Best Thematic Museum Show award from the International Association of Art Critics USA

The Old, Weird America: Folk Themes in Contemporary Art

October 3, 2009 – January 3, 2010

The Old, Weird America considers a widespread resurgence of folk themes in recent art from the United States. By giving visual form to archetypal stories and characters from the time of European settlement through the 1960s, the artists featured in the exhibition both participate in and reflect upon folklore’s fraught role in the quest for roots, values, and authenticity. Featuring a wide range of media—sculpture, drawing, photography, and video—The Old, Weird America includes artwork by Jeremy Blake, Sam Durant, Barnaby Furnas, Matthew Day Jackson, Brad Kahlhamer, Margaret Kilgallen, Dario Robleto, Allison Smith, Kara Walker, and Charlie White, among others. The exhibition is accompanied by a 162-page fully illustrated catalogue.

The Old, Weird America was organized by the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and has been made possible by the patrons, benefactors, and donors to the Museum’s Major Exhibition Fund. This exhibition has also been made possible by generous support from Union Pacific Foundation and Michael Zilkha.

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The catalogue accompanying the exhibition is made possible by a grant from The Brown Foundation, Inc. The exhibition has been coordinated for the Frye Art Museum by Robin Held, Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Collections.

Image Credits:
Cynthia Norton. Dancing Squared (detail), 2004. Aluminum, hardware, electric motors, dresses, wire. 90 x 180 x 180 inches. Courtesy the artist. © Rick Gardner Photography.
Cynthia Norton. Dancing Squared, 2004. Aluminum, hardware, electric motors, dresses, wire. 90 x 180 x 180 inches. Courtesy the artist. © Rick Gardner Photography.
Charlie White. 1957, 2006. C-print. 44 ¾ x 56 inches. Courtesy Wohnmaschine, Berlin.
Jeremy Blake. Winchester, 2002. DVD: color, sound, 18 minutes (continuous loop). Courtesy Kinz, Tillou + Feigen, New York.
Kara Walker. 8 Possible Beginnings or: The Creation of African-America, a Moving Picture by Kara E. Walker, 2005. DVD video, running time: 15:57 minutes (with sound). Courtesy the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York.
Greta Pratt. Nine Lincolns, 2000. Lambda print. 30 x 30 inches. Courtesy the artist.