March, 2019 • Indianapolis Museum of Art at NewFields • Exhibition
Opening March 15, 2019, the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields presents Samuel Levi Jones - Left of Center. Curated by Dr. Kelli Morgan, Associate Curator of American Art and Bryn Jackson, Assistant Curator of Audience Engagement and Performance, the exhibition is the first major museum survey of works by the Indiana native. Jones provides striking visual commentary on the duplicitous and oppressive nature of American power structures. The exhibited works particularly examine how injustices pervade systems of education, criminal justice, healthcare, and the American historical narrative more broadly. Left of Center offers an in-depth look at how Jones’s deconstruction of biased sets of encyclopedias, law books, medical texts, and football equipment manifest extraordinary abstract paintings and sculptures.
This is a very important time for Newfields to present this show, as art institutions across the nation find themselves at a crossroad that offers one of two paths – change the discriminatory aspects of museum practices or risk institutional failure. As a prominent museum rapidly transforming its culture from the inside out, it’s imperative that Jones’s exhibition takes place right here and right now because Jones quite literally peels back the layers of institutional racism in our society. With purposeful examination, his stunning patch-worked canvases completely restructure the tomes that uphold race-based oppression. Thus, his artistic process unveils itself over time.
His ability to deconstruct and transform the antiquated into new visual and textual paradigms re-frames the relationship between freedom and oppression, power and vulnerability, as well as equality and exclusion. Accordingly, the work rewards those who choose to spend time with it. Left of Center grants insight to Jones’s process and perspective through a constellation of references to popular culture, current events, and personal experiences. Thus, Samuel Levi Jones speaks to our histories as well as our contemporary realities.