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September 7, 2021

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Whatcom Museum
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Up Close & Personal Exhibition at the Whatcom Museum Portrays the Body in Contemporary Art

The exhibition Up Close & Personal: The Body in Contemporary Art examines the human body through the expressive lens of nearly 60 artists. Curated by the Museum’s Curator of Art, Amy Chaloupka, and generously lent from the collection of Boise-based art collectors Driek and Michael Zirinsky, the exhibition opens Oct. 30, 2021 at the Lightcatcher building.

This exhibition is timely in its portrayal of the body and its vulnerabilities, especially after the extended isolation of the pandemic and its effects on the collective consciousness. As people learn to navigate and to celebrate life "in person," there is also a cultural moment of self-reflection. Up Close & Personal offers viewers the opportunity to consider how they wish to move forward, within their own bodies, as well as in caring for and considering the bodies of others.

The artists featured in Up Close & Personal explore the many ways we communicate through facial expression, body language, self-presentation or performance. Some of the artists boldly envision narratives and representations of the self, using their own bodies in their work. Others are acutely aware that all bodies reside at the dynamic intersection of gender, class, race, sexuality, age and ability.

Samantha Wall; Dark Matter (Universal Body 1, 2, 3 and 4), 2016; Two-color lithograph (silver over black) on Arches 88 white collaborative Master Printer Frank Janzen; 30 x 22 in. Collection of Driek and Michael Zirinsky. Images courtesy of Crow's Shadow Institute of the Arts.


Chaloupka states, "In researching the artworks in this incredible collection, I am struck by the depth of empathy conjured by these artists, which is a unique tie that binds the work in this show. Centering the theme on and about the body naturally makes for deeply personal conversations, and I am excited to see how people connect with each work as they consider bodies outside their own."

Having collaborated in 2009 with the Zirinskys on the Lightcatcher building’s inaugural exhibition Out of Bounds, the Whatcom Museum joins forces once again with these intrepid collectors to share wide-ranging works from regional, national and international artists. Lifelong educators and students of history, literature and culture, their interests are reflected in their collection. Their intent to share their artworks with public institutions has enriched communities across the country and globe for decades.

"Amy Chaloupka has chosen a provocative slice of art from our collection, works related by imagery of the body," Driek Zirinsky said. "These works have never before been shown as a group, and we can’t wait to see them together at the Lightcatcher. It is a joy and an honor to have our art shown in this wonderful institution again."

Up Close & Personal includes the work of nearly 60 artists including Magdalena Abakanowicz, David Airhart, Paolo Arao, Natalie Ball, Algis Balsys, Joe F. Brubaker, Lordan Bunch, Mark Calderon, Phillip John Charette, Long-Bin Chen, Drew Daly, Noah Davis, Lesley Dill, Jane Dixon, Olafur Eliasson, Vernon Fisher, Till Freiwald, John Grade, Lee M. Hale, Jane Hammond, Markus Hansen, Judy Hill, Susan Hiller, Hosup Hwang, Titus Kaphar, William Kentridge, Käthe Kollwitz, Marianne Kolb, Cynthia Lahti, Isaac Layman, Dinh Q. Lê, Susie J. Lee, Kalup Linzy, Hung Liu, Beth Lo, Robert Longo, Benoît Lorent, Marilyn Lysohir, Robert Ernst Marx, Steven Miller, Brian Murphy, Scott Myles, Ronna Neuenschwander, Bertjan Pot, Julia Randall, Wendy Red Star, Jena Scott, Paul Shambroom, Roger Shimomura, Lucy Skaer, Kiki Smith, Akio Takamori, Josephine Taylor, Storm Tharp, Terry Turrell, Friese Undine, Samantha Wall, Kumi Yamashita and Wanxin Zhang.

To complement the exhibition, the Museum will host a companion exhibit at Old City Hall, drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection. Artists x Artists explores intimate portraits of artists created by artists. Some artists turn the camera on themselves or depict dear friends, lovers and colleagues in their work. Many are situated within their creative spaces or appear with the familiar tools of their craft. The exhibition presents a variety of expressive gazes, each one giving hints toward the ways artists convey and construct the creative persona of "the artist."

Up Close & Personal: The Body in Contemporary Art will be on exhibit Oct. 30, 2021 – Feb. 27, 2022 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St. Artists x Artists will be on exhibit Nov. 20, 2021 – April 10, 2022 at Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St. Learn more about our upcoming exhibitions.

About the Whatcom MuseumThe Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., offers a variety of exhibitions, programs, tours and activities about art, nature and Northwest history for all ages. Its multi-building campus is in the heart of Bellingham's downtown Arts District. The Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St., and Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St., are open Thursdays – Sundays, Noon – 5 PM. Admission to the Museum is free to members, $10 for general admission, $8 for youth (6-17)/students/military (with valid ID)/Seniors (62+), $5 for children 2-5 years old and free to children 2 and younger. For more information about our exhibitions and admission visit whatcommuseum.org.

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