Kennesaw State to exhibit work of artist Polly Apfelbaum in “Nirvana”

KENNESAW, Ga. | Sep 26, 2023

School of Art and Design’s Zuckerman Museum to open new exhibit Oct. 3

Kennesaw State University’s Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum of Art (ZMA), a unit of the School of Art and Design, is proud to present “Nirvana,” a new exhibition featuring the work of Polly Apfelbaum. Curated by Cynthia Nourse Thompson, Associate Professor of Fine Art and Director of Curatorial Affairs at the ZMA, the free exhibition runs Oct. 3 to Dec. 9. 

“Fallen Paintings” 
“Nirvana” features large-scale installations of ceramics, prints, and textiles by the contemporary American artist with exhibitions all over the world. Known for her use of gallery floor space, Apfelbaum’s work is often described as “fallen paintings.” In a 2022 interview, she explained to Collectors Agenda that the term “fallen paintings,” first used by Kurt Varnadoe in the 1990s, was “such a suggestive phrase that I have picked it up – both the physicality of something collapsed, fallen onto the floor, but it also has the connotation of a ‘fallen’ woman, or a ‘fallen’ angel.”

Art, Craft, and Design Intersect
Best known for combining a variety of media with vibrant saturated colors and patterns to obscure the lines between painting, installation, sculpture, and everyday objects, Apfelbaum actively interrogates the boundaries between art, craft, and design.

Christian Dior-Inspired
“Rainbow Nirvana Houndstooth,” a two-panel rug originally created for a group exhibition by Dior at the Grand Palais in Paris, exemplifies this best. This work blends the French fashion house’s signature houndstooth pattern with the artist’s own palette scheme, creating a monumental work that viewers are invited to directly become part of—by standing upon it. This is the first time the rug has been exhibited in the United States. 

image of colorful houndstooth rug patterned after dior
Polly Apfelbaum, Rainbow Nirvana Houndstooth, 2013. Hand dyed handwoven wool, cotton. Courtesy of the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London.

Prints + Rug Together
Apfelbaum was intrigued that Christian Dior was a gallerist before he was a fashion designer, and, in 2019, she participated in the third edition of Dior’s Lady Art Project. In addition to her recently created textiles, a suite of six woodblock prints titled “Hudson River Valley Nirvana” will be exhibited. The prints continue to play with an expanded spectrum of colors and complement the large-scale rug on view, marking the first time these works have been displayed together. 

Essential Materials from Home
The work of Apfelbaum is framed by wider political contexts and the legacy of post-war American art. She chooses materials that are usually found in the domestic realm—such as textiles and ceramics—and emphasizes their essential qualities, especially color, and texture. In this way, Apfelbaum assumes a political and feminist position, challenging hierarchies in cultural practice.

Educational Programming 
As part of the ZMA’s mission to offer educational programming, the artist will speak about her work and her artistic practice in a virtual lecture on Thurs., Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.  

Closing Reception
A free closing reception will be held on Sat., Dec. 9, 4-6 p.m. The reception will also feature a live dance performance from 4-5 p.m. by students of Artistic Director and Associate Professor of Dance, Lisa K. Lock, of Kennesaw State’s Department of Dance. Inspired by the works in the exhibition, the performance will be developed and choreographed over the fall semester. 

Learn more about the School of Art and Design and Zuckerman Museum of Art.

--Kathie Beckett

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