February 12, 2016

Tom Friedman, Zanele Muholi and William Kentridge

Mead Art Museum at Amherst College
Left: Tom Friedman, Untitled (Flute Player), 2016. Styrofoam, paint, cotton shirt, socks, and flip-flops, 66 x 25 x 49 inches. Right: Greek, Flying Flute Player, Myrina type, 2nd century BCE (late). Terracotta, 13 5/8 x 5 3/8 x 8 5/8 inches.*

The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College opens its spring exhibitions on Tuesday, February 16, showcasing eight new works based on the Mead’s collection by artist Tom Friedman in Tom Friedman: Untitled (Foundation); and photographs, video and works on paper by two prominent contemporary South African artists in Second-Hand Reading: William Kentridge and Zanele Muholi.

An opening reception with artist Tom Friedman takes place on Tuesday, February 16, from 6 to 7:30pm, and is free and open to the public.


Tom Friedman: Untitled (Foundation) translates significant parts of the Mead’s permanent collection through the artist’s uniquely whimsical approach to art and materials. An ancient Greek terracotta figurine, the bequest of William R. Mead, an 1867 Amherst graduate, inspired Friedman’s life-size sculpture in Styrofoam and paint, while a wood pagoda from eighth-century Japan has been recast in acrylic. Other works Friedman looks at include one of the Mead’s masterpieces, Monet’s Morning on the Seine (1897), as well as Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Pea Pickers (1938).

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Friedman earned degrees from Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Illinois at Chicago. His work has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibitions, and is in the permanent collections of major museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. He lives in Massachusetts and teaches in the graduate program in art at UMass Amherst.

Organized by Vanja Malloy, curator of American art at the Mead, this exhibition is on view through June 26.


Second-Hand Reading: William Kentridge and Zanele Muholi looks at how the works of Kentridge and Muholi represent their native country’s unfolding history. Kentridge (b. 1955) and Muholi (b. 1972) create artworks that reflect on the complex history of race and gender in South Africa through distinct media, artistic philosophies and emphases. Muholi’s black-and-white photographs portray South Africa’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community through portraits from her “Faces and Phases” series as well as her recent self-portraits. An activist as well as an artist, she seeks to “re-write a black queer and trans visual history of South Africa for the world.” Kentridge, who has dedicated the last four decades to examining apartheid’s effects on his life and South Africa’s historical memory, deploys a variety of artistic techniques—text, drawing and stop-motion film—to articulate the elusive nature of marking and narrating history.

The exhibition features a selection of Muholi’s photographs, works on paper by Kentridge and his 2013 film Second-Hand Reading.

Muholi studied photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg, and holds an MFA in documentary media from Ryerson University, Toronto. She co-founded the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (2002) and founded Inkanyiso (2009), both of which serve as forums for queer and visual media. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Infinity Award for Documentary and Photojournalism (2016), the Fine Prize for an emerging artist at the Carnegie International (2013), and the Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression art award (2013). She lives in Johannesburg.

Kentridge studied at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, the Johannesburg Art Foundation, and L’École Jacques Lecoq in Paris. For his contributions to arts and philosophy he has received numerous awards, among them the prestigious Kyoto Prize (2010), the Oskar Kokoschka Award, Vienna (2008), and the Carnegie Prize. An elected member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he also received honorary doctorate degrees from Royal College of Art, London, Yale University, and the University of Cape Town. He lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Organized by David E. Little, director and chief curator of the Mead, the exhibition is on view through April 3.


Both exhibitions are made possible with generous support from the Hall and Kate Peterson Fund.


*Image above: Left: Tom Friedman, Untitled (Flute Player), 2016. Styrofoam, paint, cotton shirt, socks, and flip-flops, 66 x 25 x 49 inches. © Tom Friedman. Image courtesy of Tom Friedman Studio. Right: Greek, Flying Flute Player, Myrina type, 2nd century BCE (late). Terracotta, 13 5/8 x 5 3/8 x 8 5/8 inches. Mead Art Museum M.1936.3. Bequest of the William R. Mead (Class of 1867) Estate.

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