Organized by Senior Curator Jenelle Porter
Color is a daily experience, from the colors we wear, the subway lines we ride, the food we eat, and the flags we fly. We use colors to describe our emotions: we are green with envy, turn crimson with shame, and on a sad day, we feel blue. Color produces a nonverbal form of communication as we clothe ourselves in colors that convey our mood, our profession, our cultural status, and our team affiliations. These gestures both form the basis of and help us to express our emotional lives.
Figuring Color: Kathy Butterly, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Roy McMakin, Sue Williams presents approximately 65 works, all of which employ color and form to represent a metaphorical body. When we stand in front of the paintings and sculptures in Figuring Color, we are compelled to consider the body in space, as a shape and an emotion. The body is rendered as vessel, as pure color, as abstraction, as line, as field, as allegory, as exceedingly tactile, and as surface.
For instance, Roy McMakin’s sculpture of a chair is at once a body and an implication of an absent body, where two tables intertwined suggest bodies nestled together. Kathy Butterly’s ceramic sculptures, with their evocative use of glaze, are miniature bodies, or portraits, whose sensuality amplifies clay’s potential for delightful form. In Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s sculptures, piles of wrapped candy and plastic-bead curtains are experienced through touch, privileging the sensory experience of a physical body while still evoking a metaphorical body. Sue Williams’s riotously colorful paintings explore the body abstracted, one composed of many surfaces—both interior and exterior—represented entirely through color. Figuring Color is a sensuous exploration of color to be experienced visually, tactilely, and emotionally.