What does it mean to care for something, someone, or ourselves?
Caring can be a form of affection, a survival strategy, a political tool, a mode of labor, and a means of sustenance. It can be driven by moral imperative or necessity. Whether an accumulation of small gestures, a singular bold act, or even strategic indifference, expressions of care—or the lack thereof—shape the world in which we live, a world that is often fraught with competing tensions and complexities.
Drawing generously from the Smart Museum’s collection, Take Care seeks to unpack matters of care from the personal to the collective. The artworks on view range from portrayals of familial relations and societal obligations, to gestures of hospitality and ritual, from strategies of bearing witness and evoking empathy, to explorations of networks of care and the results of their absences. This cross-historical conversation between over 60 works of art considers and reveals the multi-faceted nature of the ways care is conveyed and experienced. And, in doing so, urges the open-ended question of how we care for ourselves and each other in our broader social worlds.
Image: Mierle Laderman Ukeles, MANIFESTO FOR MAINTENANCE ART, 1969! Proposal for an exhibition: “CARE”, 1969, Written in Philadelphia, PA, October 1969, Four typewritten pages, each 8 ½ x 11 in. © Mierle Laderman Ukeles. Courtesy the artist and Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York.
Jennifer Carty, Associate Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, and Berit Ness, Assistant Curator of Academic Initiatives