The exhibit lineup at local museums is looking good this spring. One explores gender fluidity in fashion, while another looks at lives lost along the U.S.-Mexico border. One artist considers the Black body, as another addresses lowrider culture. Here’s a look at some of our favorites exhibits this season, including several that feature local artists.
"Body/Magic: Liz Cohen"ASU Art Museum
January 16 to May 29
Photographer Liz Cohen, a 2020 Guggenheim fellow and faculty member at ASU School of Art, explores issues of personal and cultural identity in this exhibit at ASU Art Museum. The artist assumes various roles in lowrider culture, including builder and bikini model, to challenge prevailing narratives about femininity and prompt conversations about “immigration, nonconformity, and resistance.” The exhibit includes the lowrider car Cohen built as part of her seminal “Body/Work” series.
"Leon Polk Smith: Hidden in Plain Sight”Heard Museum
February 5 to May 31
The Heard Museum is exhibiting more than three dozen works by Leon Polk Smith, a midcentury modern artist who helped found the Hard-edge Painting movement characterized by geometric forms in bright colors. The exhibit considers the ways he was influenced by American Indian culture in his native Oklahoma and the Southwestern landscape, as well as artists such as Ellsworth Kelly and Piet Mondrian.
"Diedrick Brackens: ark of bulrushes"Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
February 20 to August 22
Diedrick Brackens, a Los-Angeles based artist who centers the Black body through imagery suggesting both presence and absence, is showing new works including large-scale weavings and woven sculptures at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. His work exploring African American and queer histories reflects his interest in movement, nature, and mythology. The exhibit is titled after the biblical story of the infant Moses being floated to safety inside a reed vessel.
“Division of Labor: Women Shifting a Transnational Gaze"Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
February 20 to August 22
Arizona-based artists M. Jenea Sanchez and Gabriela Muñoz drew on the museum’s collection and collaborations undertaken for five years along the U.S.-Mexico border for this exhibition exploring labor in relationship to “feminisms, identity, equity, and the gaze.” The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art exhibit includes sculpture, photography, and video addressing the experiences of Latinx women living in the Southwest.
Dinner WhereASU Art Museum Ceramic Research Center
March 27 to October 9
Using objects associated with meals, from full-size dinner table to ceramic cup, this exhibition at the ASU Art Museum’s Ceramic Research Center considers the ways communal meals can spark dialogue about critical issues from food access to national identity. Some works speak to shared rituals and memory, while others prompt reflection on cultural assimilation and lost traditions. Featured artists include Claydies, Marilyn Lysohir, the Democratic Cup Project, and more.
“Fearless Fashion: Rudi Gernreich”Phoenix Art Museum
April 7 to September 26
Phoenix Art Museum is showing more than 80 pieces by Rudi Gernreich, a 20th-century fashion designer who played with notions of gender, identity, and aesthetic ideals to create iconic designs including the monokini and thong. The exhibit includes filmed oral histories, photographs, and ephemera that elucidate his cultural significance, and his wide range of interests from performing arts to the gay rights movement.
"Canupa Hanska Luger"Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum
May 14 to August 8
Canupa Hanska Luger, a New Mexico-based artist born on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, will be showing works that include Something to Hold Onto, an installation created with 7,000 beads representing people who have died along the U.S.-Mexico border. The collaborative exhibit at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum will also include a floor mural painted by local artists Thomas “Breeze” Marcus and Dwayne Manuel.