SCAD takes deFINE ARTS events virtual to highlight globally prominent artists

Featured artists include Sanford Biggers, Kate Cooper, and Rose B. Simpson

click to enlarge 'Rigged' by Kate Cooper. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SCAD
Photo courtesy of SCAD
'Rigged' by Kate Cooper.
For over a decade, the Savannah College of Art and Design has welcomed culture-defining international artists for its renowned deFINE ART program. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s deFINE ART proceedings will be held virtually, altering the experience but expanding the reach of this annual event’s showcase of intriguing contemporary works.

click to enlarge 'Ghettobird Tunic' by Sanford Biggers. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SCAD
Photo courtesy of SCAD
'Ghettobird Tunic' by Sanford Biggers.
Typically, the SCAD Museum of Art hosts deFINE ART as a grand premiere of featured artists’ new exhibitions, celebrating them with guests over the course of a weekend filled with presentations, themed discussions, and other creative events. Adapting to the times, SCAD is hosting 2021’s virtual deFINE ART events midweek during Feb. 23-25, with all events open to the public online.

“SCAD deFINE ART is the museum’s biggest moment of the year,” said Associate Curator of Exhibitions Ben Tollefson.

SCAD deFINE ART organizers say that although they will miss the crowd this year, the virtual format actually allows for more people across the world to tune in to three days of arts programming, including a virtual opening reception, gallery talks, artist conversations, and more. The entire program is free to watch, making it even more accessible to art lovers.

All artists featured in deFINE ART 2021 have new exhibitions here in Savannah at the SCAD Museum of Art. Organizers are encouraging participants to tune in to the virtual programming, learn all about the artists and their works, and then see the installations in person by visiting the museum, which is open to the public with coronavirus-safety measures in place. The exhibits featured during deFINE ART will be on display through springtime.

This year’s deFINE ART exhibitions include Rose B. Simpson’s Countdown, featuring the renowned Native American artist’s signature figurative sculptures bringing bodily forms to an groundbreaking totemic stature, as well as the Mainly for Women exhibit by leading Polish artist Paulina Olowska, with both already on view at the SCAD Museum of Art.

click to enlarge 'Conjure' by Rose B. Simpson. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SCAD
Photo courtesy of SCAD
'Conjure' by Rose B. Simpson.

Additionally, a trio of exhibitions by other internationally prominent artists will debut during the deFINE ART festivities. Canadian artist Marcel Dzama’s An End to the End Times presents paintings and drawings addressing political issues with his distinctively surreal storybook style, while videos by Amsterdam-based British artist Kate Cooper challenge perceptions of bodily perfection in Symptom Machine, and Contra/Diction is a retrospective of works by celebrated Harlem-based interdisciplinary artist Sanford Biggers, who is the SCAD deFINE ART 2021 honoree.

“In a season of reimagination, SCAD’s renowned fine arts program showcases the shifting explorations and revelations of self,” said SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace. “From Sanford Biggers’ ‘future ethnographies’ to Kate Cooper’s representations of the feminine ‘ideal,’ SCAD deFINE ART constructs − and deconstructs − identity through works by internationally celebrated contemporary artists. This year, your home and SCAD museums become one.”

Biggers will deliver the keynote lecture on Wednesday, Feb. 24. Organizers say his exhibition is visually compelling and communicates deep feelings about the human experience and the lives of Black Americans.

“Sanford works in a wide variety of media and really connects with important African American histories,” Tollefson said. Tollefson says some of his favorite works by Biggers “remix” different perspectives of life and history into one work of art.

click to enlarge 'Dark Before the Bright Exit' by Marcel Dzama. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SCAD
Photo courtesy of SCAD
'Dark Before the Bright Exit' by Marcel Dzama.
“I hope that viewers will leave with a better understanding of Sanford’s work. He’s a really important artist on our roster,” Tollefson said.“I also hope visitors see SCAD’s commitment to bringing international artists to Savannah for the community.”

Also featured in deFINE ART will be a conversation between Dzama and famed comedian Amy Sedaris, a virtual tour of the studio of SCAD alum and Black Panther muralist Brandon Sadler, and other inspiring talks, gallery tours, and presentations.

Visit scad.edu/defineart2021 to see a complete list of deFINE ART events and for registering to participate in virtual presentations.

About The Author

Lauren Wolverton

Lauren Wolverton is self-described storyteller, fashion addict and lover of lattes. At Connect Savannah, she is a journalist and a strategic marketing consultant. Wolverton grew up between Georgia and Mississippi, then went on to graduate from Mississippi State University. A job as a news producer at a local television...
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