Mar 2nd 2019

Chicago-area artists Bethany Collins and Samuel Levi Jones discuss the new work they created as part of the Smart Museum’s presentation of ‘Solidary & Solitary: The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection.’

FREE and open to all.

Alabama-born, Chicago-based artist Bethany Collins fills the forty-foot wall in the Museum’s lobby with a blind embossed wallpaper comprised of official state flowers. Drawn to the language of flowers, or floriography, the artist investigated flower dictionaries that regained popularity in the nineteenth century and allowed for the sharing of hidden messages through bouquets. According to these dictionaries the state flower of Delaware relays the message “I am your captive,” while Louisiana’s state flower, the iris, says “I burn for you,” and the camellia of Alabama, “My destiny is in your hands.” Operating in a space between love, power, ownership, and nationhood, this largescale “talking bouquet” will, as the artist states, “memorialize moments of repeated violence throughout American history.”

In a new body of work, Chicago- and Indianapolis-based artist Samuel Levi Jones calls into question the authoritative and institutional power certain objects and materials can hold. Through a labor-intensive practice Jones transforms law and medical books into new and arresting abstractions, physically stripping, stitching and pulverizing book covers and in the process unravelling symbols and systems of knowledge and power.

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