This Exhibition Has Ended

April 18, 2015
June 14, 2015
In the wing gallery

Each year the Johnson Museum provides an opportunity for students in the History of Art Majors’ Society to gain direct curatorial experience by organizing an exhibition and its associated programs and publishing a catalogue. This year, the exhibition takes as its starting point not a particular geographic area or time period, but rather a phenomenon that exists wherever consolidated authority or conventions of good taste have taken hold.

Protest and civil unrest have received enormous attention on the global stage recently. From Ferguson, Missouri, to Hong Kong, individuals and nongovernment organizations have spoken up to influence political and social realities. The History of Art Majors’ Society has taken these developments as a starting point for our exhibition this year. We have considered the term “revolt” in all its myriad meanings, resulting in an exhibition that explores resistance to prevailing social, cultural, artistic, and political conventions.

Some of the works on view visualize the theme directly, and explicitly protest against authority. Others are “revolting” in that they offend orthodox tastes or diverge from artistic norms. The crux of the exhibition, however, lies in points of intersection between these two forms of revolt, highlighting how artists’ search for aesthetic language to express dissatisfaction with the status quo leads to the use of experimental, innovative, or grotesque forms and styles.

As an institution that has been revolutionary since its 1865 founding as both nonsectarian and coeducational, Cornell is a natural locus for this exhibition. By also including images of Cornell’s history, with the support of the Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, we hope to contextualize the concept of revolt by showing how innovative, unconventional, and often controversial decisions have shaped Cornell throughout its 150 years.

Though perhaps especially visible at a forward-looking institution such as Cornell, divergence from convention and radical innovation are key to the development of art and political actualities around the world. In Revolt, we seek to show that revolution within the realm of art and in society as a whole are inextricably connected, and that art not only reflects but also contributes to the creation of new political, social, or cultural realities.

This exhibition was curated by undergraduate members of Cornell’s History of Art Majors’ Society with oversight by Alana Ryder, Mellon Curatorial Coordinator for Academic Programs at the Johnson Museum, and funded in part by grants from the Student Assembly Finance Commission and the International Students Union, and a generous gift from Betsey and Alan Harris.

2014–15 History of Art Majors’ Society

Lara Abouhamad
Zoe Carlson
Lucius Elliott
Cameron Ewing, president
Virginia Girard, secretary
Alanna Klein
Haley Knapp, social media manager
Chinelo Onyilofor
Piotr Pillardy, treasurer
Daniela Pimentel
Wylie Rechler
Oscar Rieveling
Ekaterina Savelieva
Yuanyuan Tang