Print Society: Thirty Years of Collecting
Hugh Merrill is the guest curator to the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art for the Print Lovers exhibition opening May 2, July 24 2008.
This exhibition celebrates the life and passion of George McKenna, the contributions of the Print Society and the dynamic art form that is Printmaking. Thirty years ago curator George McKenna’s passion for printmaking led him to form the Nelson-Atkins Print Society to broaden the interest and love of printmaking in Kansas City. George McKenna believed correctly that Printmaking has played a prominent role in the development of modern and contemporary art since its inception. Over the past thirty years he led the Print Society in collecting the very best of contemporary prints for the museum’s collection. This exhibition displays 30 of the more than 70 prints commissioned, purchased and donated by the Print Society.
The Gift 2007/2008
A group of children born in Liberia Africa were caught up in the political violence all too familiar to us as seen on the nightly T.V. news shows. The families were forced to move into a refugee camp in Liberia, but the children had to hide at night in the forest to avoid rape, kidnapping and forced induction into military militias. Some--a small fraction--of the refugees were fortunate to find a way into the United States and they ended up living in cars, couch surfing, moving from one shelter to another in Kansas City Kansas.
Over the past year I have had the honor to work on an ongoing community arts action with this population of pre-teen/teenage children through the Office of Homeless Liaison of the Kansas City Kansas United Public School District. Director Stacy Pratt of the Office of Homeless Liaison and I will make a presentation to the National Homeless Educators conference in Portland Oregon November 12, 2007 to outline the positive impact of our past years community arts programming and present our expanded and upcoming community arts project The Gift.
In tribal societies from African, Native American, Oceanic cultures and many others a gift is not given as property. The gift is not a commodity to be kept by the person who receives the object. In such societies the gift has a deeper meaning and purpose. The gift is a vehicle of spirit and is to be passed on. It is by the act of giving the gift to another and their giving the gift to another and on and on that the community is enriched and sustained. This enrichment is not to be found in the realm of finance or commerce. The values are not accrued by an individual. The value of the gift is communal and spiritual. The gift given again and again bonds the individuals to their community and creates the continuous process of enriching and sustaining the culture.
The Gift is a 9-month community arts project to work with a group of homeless teenagers living and going to school in Kansas City Kansas. We will guide the teens to produce journals, personal/social archives and interdisciplinary artistic expressions documenting their lives from November to May 2008. Artist Hugh Merrill will produce dye cut large-scale computer graphics and posters of the children to be installed in the Willa Gill Resource Center. The Willa Gill Center is a community-styled center that houses the Office of Homeless Liaison and “soup kitchen” used by hundreds of Homeless people on a daily basis. The goal of the project is to provide the children with the skills and direction to develop a coherent and insightful artistic voice and to create highly positive large scale graphic images of the children and give them back as, a Gift to their community of resilience, caring and love.
Chameleon participates in the Underground Railroad Project for the Troost Festival
The ground on which Chameleon facility stands was once the area where escaped slaves hid prior and during the American Civil War. The slaves escaped across the Missouri river on dark nights to Quindaro Kansas and freedom as part of the underground railroad.
On April 19th, 2008, Chameleon worked with the Troost Festival to create a tribute to remember this important history by producing artworks the festival. The date also marked the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death and Earth Day. Father David of the Egypt Orthodox Bookstore and spiritual leader for the 31st and Troost area worked with other committed members of the Troost community to weave these threads into a celebration of Troost neighborhood.
Hugh Merrill and students from his community arts class from the Kansas City Art Institute made large graphic figures of slaves to place in the woods where these remarkable people hid while waiting to escape via the underground railroad to freedom. The students are also made posters to place along the route of the run.
Wish-Flush: Antithesis of Choices and Desires:
Hugh Merrill was invited by Mr. Jan Raihle Director and Anne Seppanen Curator of the Darlarnas Museum in Falun Sweden to create the installation Flush: Antithesis of Choices and Desires: for the Falun Print Triennial August to November 2007 in Falun Sweden. The Darlarnas curators had seen Pool of Belief an arts action and installation Merrill exhibited at the Polish National Art Museum in Poznan Poland in 2005 and were interested in having Merrill create a new work based on “Pools” for the Darlarnas Museum/Falun Print Triennial 2007. Merrill working in collaboration with artists and close friend Patrick Moonasar devised an interactive installation of graphic digitally printed images of children’s swimming pools filled with consumer goods printed as rubber floor mats. Wish-Flush will open at the museum on August 25 running through November. Merrill will lecture on the project at the Darlarnas Museum in October of 2007 as part of the Triennial. Following is a PDF file on the project and images for publication.
Wish-Flush has since been performed at the YWCA for Earth day in Kansas City Kansas and is presently being scheduled to travel to Argentina and Cuba in 2009.
Ecoscape Drawings by Hugh Merrill
Landscapes have not existed for a very long time, perhaps close to a century. Wilderness is a national park or a future and present lumberyard. Realistatescape is perhaps a better term describing our reality of land defined by its monetary value. Ecoscape goes a step further providing a global systematic concept for considering environment, resources, utilization, architecture and connection.
These works search for a language to articulate my knowledge of drawing, space and image informed and guided by the Ecoscape in which we reside.