Asheville Art Museum acquires Wesley Clark’s ‘My Big Black America’

Asheville Art Museum Associate Curator Carolyn Grosch stands with artist Wesley Clark in front of My Big Black America.

Press release from Asheville Art Museum:

The Asheville Art Museum is thrilled to have recently acquired a new work titled My Big Black America by artist Wesley Clark through its newly formed Acquisition Response Team (A.R.T.), a support network for acquiring prominent and exciting works of art that require rapid funding and quick decision-making.

Intricately detailed, My Big Black America consists of a variety of wood, including both manufactured wood used in household furniture and unworked, natural wood. The foundation of the work is made up of wooden crate fragments while chair backs, bed posts, tree stumps and salvaged pieces from Clark’s first version of the work make up the surface.

As Clark explains, “Old wood is the base of the construction and acts as a metaphor for those from which America’s foundation was built—black slaves and low-paid industrial workers. Newer segments of wood are the younger generation creating what is the surface of the USA today.” Clark appreciates the history that worn objects bring to the work, likening the wood to skin that holds marks over time. In keeping with other works by Clark, My Big Black America aims to encourage viewers to think about race on both a national and personal level.

Shaped like a map of the United States, the work makes a statement about the Museum’s focus on collecting American art and is in dialogue with other works in the Museum’s Collection by artists such as Willie Cole, Whitfield Lovell, Thornton Dial, Jacob Lawrence, Louise Nevelson and Jasper Johns. The large size of this work is ideal for the atrium space of the Museum’s new facility currently under construction at 2 S. Pack Square.

Wesley Clark grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and, after receiving his BFA in painting from Syracuse University in 2001, went on to earn his MFA in Studio Art from George Washington University in 2012. Clark is best known for his sculpture, but is also a painter and printmaker. He currently resides in Hyattsville, MD and is part of the surrealist artist collective Delusions of Grandeur, who “grapple with diverse aspects of the black experience” in a range of media.

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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