The Montclair Art Museum (MAM) unveils four new, visually inspiring exhibitions opening this fall. Each exhibition offers a unique and thought-provoking journey into the heart of artistic expression, from the visionary interpretations of space and scale to the vibrant narratives of iconic figures. 

(Left: Dyani White Hawk (Sičáŋǧu Lakota, b. 1976). “She Gives (Quiet Strength VII)”, 2020. Acrylic on canvas. 84 x 120 in. PAFA 2020.17. Courtesy of PAFA. / Right: Mequitta Ahuja (b. 1976). “A Real Allegory of Her Studio”, 2015. Oil on canvas, 80 x 96 in. PAFA, 2017.47. Courtesy of PAFA.)

Taking Space: Contemporary Women Artists and the Politics of Scale
(Opening Friday, September 15)
Inspired by a show at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in 2021, the new exhibition Taking Space: Contemporary Women Artists and the Politics of Scale will display ten stunning artworks from PAFA alongside foundational works from the Montclair Art Museum’s collection of American women artists. This groundbreaking exhibition invites viewers to consider how space, size, scale, and repetition can be interpreted as political gestures in the practices of many women artists. Together, this comprehensive group of artworks reveal the varied approaches of women artists for whom space is a critical feature of their work, whether they occupy significant space on walls or engage three-dimensionally with gallery spaces through sculpture and installation. Also addressed is the visual power of seriality and repetition as spatial visual practices, as well as the diverse methods of asserting and reclaiming the spaces of women’s bodies. On view in Taking Space for the first time at MAM since 2018 is Kara Walker’s cut-paper silhouette installation Virginia’s Lynch Mob (1998).

(Siona Benjamin (b. 1960). “Lilith in the New World,” 2023, 13 x 30 ft. banner in progress. Image courtesy of the artist.)

Siona Benjamin: Lilith in the New World
(Opening Friday, September 15)
New Jersey-based artist Siona Benjamin (b. 1960, Mumbai, India) will unveil the stunning, graphic-arts-inspired banner Lilith in the New World (2023) in the Laurie Art Stairway this fall. This monumental piece measuring 13 feet high by 30 feet wide, explores the joys, passions, and anguish of both time-honored and unfairly reviled women of the Hebrew canon. A recurring figure in the artist’s oeuvre, Lilith was the mythological first wife of Adam, who stands as an icon of independence and courage. The artist has reclaimed this iconic figure by combining styles derived from comic books, Pop art, Bollywood, street graphics, Indian folk images, Persian miniatures, and Hebrew manuscripts. Lilith’s blue skin is “a symbol of being other…a woman of color,” like the artist herself. Since immigrating to the United States in 1986, Benjamin has been pondering the meaning of belonging in her adopted homeland from the perspectives of being South Asian, an immigrant, an American, a woman, and a Jew. 

(Pamela Moore. “Swimming Through Caves,” courtesy of the artist.)

Inspired by the Weight of an Object–A Partnership with Studio Montclair
(Opening Friday, September 15)
For the third year in a row, the Montclair Art Museum is collaborating with Studio Montclair to present a juried show inspired by the Museum’s fall exhibition. Juried by Virginia Block and Ira Wagner, the MAM’s Executive Director, the exhibition will run concurrently at the Montclair Art Museum and Studio Montclair’s Leach Gallery at 641 Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair. Weight of an Object builds on the approaches and themes of the women artists being exhibited in Taking Space. While not limited to women artists, the works on view utilize the scale of both the works themselves as well as their subject matter, multiple media, depictions of the body, and abstraction to consider the many ways that space itself can be interpreted and incorporated in artistic expression. 

(Joel Meyerowitz (b. 1938). “Cape Cod, Massachusetts”, 1979. Vintage RC print from negative, 8 x 10 in. Photo: Ira Wagner.)

Joel Meyerowitz: Photographs from Cape Cod (1976-1987)
(Opening Friday, November 10)
This November, the Museum will welcome the first solo exhibition in the New York City area in six years featuring the renowned photographer Joel Meyerowitz (b. 1938). Drawn from a trove of 201 Meyerowitz photographs anonymously donated to the Montclair Art Museum in 2021, this exhibition will feature 22 photographs taken by Meyerowitz of Cape Cod from 1976 to 1987. These contemplative observations of space, mood, light, and color pervade the variety of subjects in the photographs on view. His beautiful, serene photographs convey the finest nuances of color and light on the Cape’s unique juncture of sky, sea, and land. Meyerowitz is an award-winning photographer whose work has appeared in more than 350 exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world. Celebrated as a pioneer, Meyerowitz was one of the first photographers to successfully transition from black-and-white to color in fine-art photography. 

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