On View presents images from noteworthy exhibitions
THE SCULPTURAL CERAMICS of Kahlil Robert Irving are not typical clay artworks. He makes replicas of everyday objects and assemblages incorporating debris from city streets and the detritus of daily life. Born in San Diego, Irving is based in St. Louis, Mo. He grew up working with clay and has been making ceramics since he was 12. Today, he works in a variety of mediums with ceramic sculpture at the center of his practice. The work is informed by themes such as memory, cultural history, and the Black experience.
At the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minn., “Kahlil Robert Irving: Archaeology of the Present” features large-scale sculptures and video and clay works installed in the floor. Irving’s site-specific installation envisions a streetscape and considers the long lineage of ceramic production beyond the art studio. Visitors are invited to walk onto the platform to see the art up close. The works bridge the past and present. A brick wall pays homage to Black labor and the history of brick making in St. Louis. Clay works made to look like asphalt, textured and embedded with history, reference the mosaic floors of Hellenistic Antioch.
Here’s how the museum explained the installation: “For Irving, the street, and its varied appearances across cities and neighborhoods, is emblematic of issues of camouflaged anti-Blackness, including unacknowledged racism and discrimination, lingering segregation, and police violence. By excavating and exposing the city street within the gallery context, Irving uncovers layers of living history that hold both personal and communal meaning. This exploration is manifest in the exhibition by the creation of an environment that suggests an archaeological site.” CT
“Kahlil Robert Irving: Archaeology of the Present” is on view at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minn., from Feb 23–Nov 26, 2023
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