Kukuli Velarde
Najallota Insolente Playfully disobedient. Does not believe in hierarchies, la hija de la gran…..Maya. Mexico, 750 BC from the Plunder Me, Baby Series, 2006
Terracotta and paint
26 1/4 x 20 x 12 inches
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Karen Johnson Boyd
Photography: Jon Bolton

Playful/Pensive: Contemporary Artists and Contemporary Issues

August 6, 2021 – August 21, 2022
Windows on Fifth Gallery at Racine Art Museum

Due to popular demand, this exhibition has been extended from its initial July 24 closure.

In a modern context, artists not working on a commission can choose to express whatever they desire in their work. The choice of subject matter, and how exactly it is communicated, is filtered through the artist’s perspective. Concerns impacting the artist, whether internal or external, can direct decisions about what is depicted in their artwork and why.

The artworks included in this exhibition are either playful or thought-provoking, and sometimes both—seeming lighthearted at first but ultimately speaking to deeper, more complex issues. Constructed of materials such as ceramic and glass that can withstand the demanding conditions of RAM’s Windows on Fifth Gallery, these works reflect personal, social, and cultural issues and ideas in sometimes unexpected ways.

The appeal of art is, by most accounts, subjective. What draws one person in may not impact the next. Further, opinions about the value and purpose of art vary widely. If someone believes that art is meant to transcend the everyday or focus primarily on what is or is not beautiful, then the works gathered for this exhibition could fall short of their expectations. These objects are created by artists who, on the whole, use their art as a way to address thoughts and feelings about a wide range of topics including colonialism, history, relationships, childhood, consumption, domesticity, the environment, the self, communication, social expectations, and the possibilities of materials. Someone could still find something beautiful in what is being created but these artists do not specifically make work that addresses beauty as a subject. Ideally, these works would encourage contemplation and, ultimately, dialogue.

Some of these artists and some of these works have been shown in RAM’s galleries before but, they have not been shown together, nor have they been shown in the Windows on Fifth Gallery. This is significant because it underscores how different meanings can be obtained through context, both relative to the other works on display and the gallery space they occupy. Having work on full view of anyone who passes by the museum—and not just those who could come inside—opens up the potential for the object to impact, mystify, bother, or excite a layered and diverse network of people.

More About the Exhibition

Gallery Guide (PDF)

Press Room

Artists in the Exhibition

Hank Murta Adams, Russell Biles, Viola Frey, Verne J. Funk, Michael Gross, Karen LaMonte, Steven Young Lee, Silvia Levenson, Michael Lucero, Matt Nolen, Maribel Portela, David Regan, Bill Reid, Esther Shimazu, Kim Simonsson, Tashima Hirotsune, Kukuli Velarde, Jason Walker, and Janis Wunderlich

Playful/Pensive: Contemporary Artists and Contemporary Issues

August 6, 2021 – August 21, 2022
Windows on Fifth Gallery at Racine Art Museum

Due to popular demand, this exhibition has been extended from its initial July 24 closure.

Kukuli Velarde
Najallota Insolente Playfully disobedient. Does not believe in hierarchies, la hija de la gran…..Maya. Mexico, 750 BC from the Plunder Me, Baby Series, 2006
Terracotta and paint
26 1/4 x 20 x 12 inches
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Karen Johnson Boyd
Photography: Jon Bolton

In a modern context, artists not working on a commission can choose to express whatever they desire in their work. The choice of subject matter, and how exactly it is communicated, is filtered through the artist’s perspective. Concerns impacting the artist, whether internal or external, can direct decisions about what is depicted in their artwork and why.

The artworks included in this exhibition are either playful or thought-provoking, and sometimes both—seeming lighthearted at first but ultimately speaking to deeper, more complex issues. Constructed of materials, such as ceramic and glass, that can withstand the demanding conditions of RAM’s Windows on Fifth gallery, these works reflect personal, social, and cultural issues and ideas in sometimes unexpected ways.

The appeal of art is, by most accounts, subjective. What draws one person in may not impact the next. Further, opinions about the value and purpose of art vary widely. If someone believes that art is meant to transcend the everyday or focus primarily on what is or is not beautiful, then the works gathered for this exhibition could fall short of their expectations. These objects are created by artists who, on the whole, use their art as a way to address thoughts and feelings about a wide range of topics including colonialism, history, relationships, childhood, consumption, domesticity, the environment, the self, communication, social expectations, and the possibilities of materials. Someone could still find something beautiful in what is being created but these artists do not specifically make work that addresses beauty as a subject. Ideally, these works would encourage contemplation and, ultimately, dialogue.

Some of these artists and some of these works have been shown in RAM’s galleries before but, they have not been shown together, nor have they been shown in the Windows on Fifth Gallery. This is significant because it underscores how different meanings can be obtained through context, both relative to the other works on display and the gallery space they occupy. Having work on full view of anyone who passes by the museum—and not just those who could come inside—opens up the potential for the object to impact, mystify, bother, or excite a layered and diverse network of people.

More About the Exhibition

Gallery Guide (PDF)

Press Room

Artists in the Exhibition

Hank Murta Adams, Russell Biles, Viola Frey, Verne J. Funk, Michael Gross, Karen LaMonte, Steven Young Lee, Silvia Levenson, Michael Lucero, Matt Nolen, Maribel Portela, David Regan, Bill Reid, Esther Shimazu, Kim Simonsson, Tashima Hirotsune, Kukuli Velarde, Jason Walker, and Janis Wunderlich

Sample of Work in the Exhibition

Click/tap an image for more information

Exhibitions at RAM are made possible by:

Platinum Sponsors

Judith and David Flegel Fund
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Ron and Judith Isaacs
Nicholas and Nancy Kurten
Windgate Foundation

Diamond Sponsors

Osborne and Scekic Family Foundation
Ruffo Family Foundation

Gold Sponsors
Anonymous
David Charak
Silver Sponsors
Art Bridges
A.C. Buhler Family
Andis Foundation
Baird
Lucy G. Feller
Ben and Dawn Flegel
Annette Hirsh Family
J. Jeffers & Co.
Dorothy MacVicar
RDK Foundation

Jan Serr and John Shannon
Bronze Sponsors

Anonymous
Susan Boland
Virginia Buhler
Butcher & Barrel/Amos Los Tacos
Educators Credit Union
Express Employment Professionals
Get Behind the Arts Studio Tour
William A. Guenther
Tom and Sharon Harty
Tony and Andrea Hauser
David and Judy Hecker
Bradley Lynch
Carlotta Miller
Larry and Barbara Newman
The Norbell Foundation
The Prairie School
Georgiana Treivush
Twin Disc, Inc.
Deb and Will Walker

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