The Midwest has a thriving cultural scene that extends across all of its 12 states, many of which will be hosting exciting art exhibitions this winter.
Taking inspiration from its distinctive culture, industrial heritage and natural landscapes, many artists have depicted the Midwest over the years, with their works still residing here today in museums, galleries and other venues. If you’re planning a trip to the region this winter and would like to visit an art exhibition during your stay, we’ve picked out 10 to look out for.
Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain
This unique exhibition presents the story, context, and new restoration of a masterwork in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s collection, ‘Krishna Lifting Mount Gavardhan’. The huge 1,500-year-old stone sculpture from Cambodia depicts the young Hindu god in the superhuman act of shielding his people from destruction. Featuring an immersive, mixed-reality tour, the exhibition places the sculpture in the southern Cambodian landscape and sacred space from which it came, illuminating the effect of global changes over the past 150 years on the discovery, disposition, and conservation of the sculptures from one of the earliest major Hindu sites in Southeast Asia.
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH / Through 30 January 2022
To Know the Fire: Pueblo Women Potters and the Shaping of History
Handed down through the generations, pottery making in Pueblo communities has long been associated with lineages of renowned women potters. Indeed, many potters today view their work as a spiritual act, connecting them to their extraordinary predecessors. This exhibition brings together a selection of earthenware vessels from the Pueblo communities of New Mexico and Arizona. Taking its title from the words of Laguna Pueblo potter Gladys Paquin, recalling the precarious art of ground-firing pots with kindling and manure, the exhibition explores the history, sociality, and poetics of Pueblo vessels and their makers.
Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL / 27 January to 3 September 2022
City of Nature
Japanese-German American artist Kota Ezawa has gained widespread acclaim for his recreation of scenes and images drawn from mainstream media using computer-assisted digital drawing and animation tools. This 6-minute long animated video collage exhibition is billed by the artist as “an alternative to the mainstream nature film” drawing the viewer’s attention to the unnatural way that popular culture aestheticises the natural world. It incorporates seventy scenes of nature from twenty diverse mainstream films and TV shows where nature plays a seminal role or where flora and fauna could be considered primary characters, together forming an abstract narrative where one natural element leads to the next.
Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI / Through 11 September 2022
Honoring Our Past Masters: The Golden Age of Cleveland Art, 1900-1940
Billed as the most ambitious showing of Cleveland History Center’s acclaimed masterworks in nearly three decades, this top class exhibition turns the spotlight onto the city’s most eminent artists across this period, and in doing so celebrating their prolific and often internationally recognised achievements. Some globally famous, some still relatively unknown. among the artists whose work are featured in the exhibition are August Biehle, Margaret Bourke-White, Charles Burchfield, Roy Lichtenstein, and many more.
Cleveland History Center, Cleveland, OH / 4 December 2021 – 4 April 2022
Kahlo Without Borders
This exhibition seeks to connect museum visitors to the intimate and creative world of the late, legendary Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and her support system of close friends, family members, and health care providers. Curated by photographer, and Frida Kahlo’s grandniece, Cristina Kahlo, MSU Broad Art Museum executive director Dr. Mónica Ramírez-Montagut, and Javier Roque Vázquez Juárez, the exhibition includes photographs and facsimiles from family archives belonging to Cristina Kahlo and other collections such as the Oaxaca Museum of Stamp Collecting (Museo de la Filatelia en Oaxaca), and never-before-seen medical archives from the Medical Center ABC, where Frida Kahlo was interned on several occasions.
The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, MI / 15 January – 7 August 2022
Who Do We Say We Are? Irish Art 1922/2022
Created to mark the Irish government’s Decade of Centenaries commemorations, this exhibition examines the use of art as a nation-building tool. Early-century paintings by the likes of Sean Keating, Jack B. Yeats and Paul Henry are juxtaposed with works by contemporary artists Patrick Graham, Hughie O’Donoghue, and Diana Copperwhite, among others, to explore issues of national identity rooted in the diaspora and landscape. Expanding into the realm of photography, pictures of rural landscapes serve to describe epic legends and folkloric memories that reveal history and evolving culture.
Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN / 5 February – 15 May 2022
This exhibition explores how contemporary artists mobilise femininity to claim beauty, care, and abundance for Black and Latinx people. By departing from the masculinist aesthetics of U.S. militarism and the Black and Chicanx movements of the 1970s, a trio of female artists have generated alternative visualities to address the urgent social issues of the contemporary moment. The works in the exhibition invite us to appreciate the paths for personal and collective freedom that are available in the everyday via beauty rituals, domestic decor, confection, glitter, gold, and rhinestones.
Flaten Art Museum, St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN / Through 23 January 2022
A Site of Struggle: American Art against Anti-Black Violence
How has art has been used to protest, process, mourn, and memorialise anti-Black violence within the United States? This exhibition explores how artists have engaged with the perceived reality of anti-Black violence and its accompanying challenges of representation in America over the past century or more. Focusing on works created between the 1890s and 2013 – situating contemporary artistic practice within a longer history of American art and visual culture – it foregrounds African Americans as active shapers of visual culture, investigating the varied strategies artists have used to grapple with anti-Black violence, ranging from representation to abstraction and from literal to metaphorical.
Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL / 26 January – 10 July 2022
The Farewell Collection
Comprising three paintings, “Sunrise,” “Sunset,” and “After the Storm”, the Farewell Collection forms part of the museum’s permanent exhibition that celebrates the life and lasting legacy of acclaimed wildlife and Americana artist, Terry Redlin. Redlin’s commercial success in the 1970s led to him funding the opening of the museum, which today showcases a total of 166 of his original oil painting, among which the Farewell Collection is one of the most cherished. Connecting man and nature to heartfelt memories of life in small town America, Redlin draws from his own experiences to bring viewers back to the special moments in our own lives.
Redlin Art Center, Watertown, SD / Permanent
You Are Here
This captivating art exhibition encourages viewers to celebrate being present and in the moment while taking in a bright and colourful reinstallation of the museum’s iconic atrium space. The artworks featured were selected due to their ability to immerse you in their textures, patterns, colours, and ideas. The centrepiece of the exhibition – Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of Keshawn Warren standing in front of a vibrant floral background – exemplifies the idea of being present in oneself, reminding us to look, feel and simply be here.
University of Michigan Museum of Art, Arbor, MI / Ongoing
By Paul Joseph