Arts & Culture » Arts

In the Galleries: Kerry James Marshall: Garden of Delights at CAM

by

comment
Birmingham-born, Chicago-based artist Kerry James Marshall explores what he describes as "the mundane qualities of Black reality" in this photographic and sculptural Front Room installation — a radical formal (if not thematic) departure from his signature painting and printed work. Massive clear-plastic sunflowers, zip-tied to plastic trellises and rooted in metal, scallop-cut ridges of "grass," bloom from the gallery's far wall. Glossy red, green, brown and black plastic "stones" — the colors of the Pan-African flag — lead to the center of this faux garden, where a generic photograph of a house and yard is framed. While all feels distinctly symbolic, there's an undercurrent of dark humor here: Crumpled bags of Flamin' Hot Cheetos litter this garden path, while a framed surveillance photo of Chicago's Malcolm X College is titled "Welcome to the Jungle." The exclusion of "Earthly" from the exhibit's title (a nod to Hieronymus Bosch's phantasmagoric 15th-century triptych of Adam and Eve's fall) resonates with Marshall's Home Depot-grade material vocabulary, which seems at once extra- and sub-terrestrial, and his desire to define a specific cultural mundane. The moral of this tale is deliberately ambiguous, possibly something like: Disposable everydayness is not a common or simple privilege. Or: One man's apple is another man's Cheetos. Through July 7 at CAM (Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis), 3750 Washington Boulevard; 314-535-4660 or www.camstl.org. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat. (open till 8 on Thu.), 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.