Museum Q & A with 21c Museum Chief Curator and Director of Art Programming Alice Gray Stites

Untitled by Giovanni Ozzola

Giovanni Ozzola, Untitled, 2013, bell with handwritten text, Gazelli Art House, London, UK

Museum Name:  21c Museum

Name: Alice Gray Stites

Title: Chief Curator and Director of Art Programming

Museum Locations:

21c Museum Hotels 710 W Main Street, 3rd Floor, Louisville, KY 40202
21c Louisville 700 W Main Street, Louisville, KY 40202
21c Cincinnati 609 Walnut Street Cincinnati, OH 45202
21c Bentonville 200 NE A Street Bentonville, AR 72712

Installation view, 21c Cincinnati, courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

Installation view, 21c Cincinnati, courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

Sureyya Wille: What type of art does your gallery focus on?

Alice Gray Stites: 21c Museum is North America's first multi-venue museum dedicated to collecting and exhibiting art of the 21st century. Each of 21c's locations features several unique, site-specific installations, ranging from wallpaper to large-scale sculpture, and immersive, multi-media installations, as well as curated group and solo exhibitions. The collection and the exhibition program is focused on the art of today, in all media, including painting, sculpture, photography, film and video, installation, performance, and electronic and software-based art.

Fragile 003 by Ahmet Elhan

Installation view, 21c Cincinnati, courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

SW: How many artists do you represent?

AGS: 21c Museum's collection includes artworks by over 700 Contemporary artists, both emerging and well known, from all over the world. Just a few of the artists whose work can be seen at 21c include Kehinde Wiley, Anthony Goicolea, Chuck Close, Kara Walker, Elmgreen and Dragset, Ori Gersht, Yinka Shonibare M.B.E, Zhang Huan, Armando Marino, Michael Subotzky, Din Q Le, Alain Declerq, Chris Doyle, Jeppe Hein, Patricia Piccinini, Slater Bradley, Serkan Ozkaya, Camille Utterback, Berni Searle, Carrie Mae Weems, Sam Taylor-Wood, Simen Johan, Quentin Shih, Vik Muniz, Pieter Hugo, Lalla Essaydi, and more.

Wild Card, exhibition view, 21c Louisville

Wild Card, exhibition view, 21c Louisville, courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

SW: Do you have any development plans for your gallery?

AGS: 21c Museum was founded in 2006 in Louisville, KY. The museum galleries are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and are free to the public. The success of the 21c Museum Hotel has led to a rapid expansion: in November 2012, 21c Cincinnati opened, and the following February, 21c Bentonville opened in Bentonville, AR. Together, the three museum venues include 30,000 square feet of exhibition space for rotating, temporary shows, and in total, feature 20 site-specific installations.

The Hive Restaurant, 21c Bentonville, courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

The Hive Restaurant, 21c Bentonville, courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

SW: What is your next important show? Tell us why we should come

AGS: Dis-semblance: Projecting and Perceiving Identity recently opened at 21c Cincinnati, and will remain on view through November 2013. The exhibition explores the nature of identity in the digital, global age. Techno-culture has inspired a material and metaphoric transformation of portraiture to reflect and respond to screen-based aesthetics, and to delineate the influence of social media on the perception of self and others. In a constant state of projecting and connecting, how and what do we understand about ourselves and others? Dis-semblance examines the evolution of portraiture as a platform for capturing the ebb and flow of the mutable, hybrid self, and as a multi-faceted mirror of the fractured identities we shape, desire, and exchange in our now intertwined analog and digital lives, onscreen and off. Artists featured in this timely and engaging exhibition include Kehinde Wiley, Albano Afonso, Rachel Lee Hovnanian, Hank Willis Thomas, Chuck Close, Ori Gersht, Lincoln Schatz, Eva and Franco Mattes, Erwin Olaf, and many others.

Photo by Rett Peek, courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

Photo by Rett Peek, courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

SW: Do you think attending art fairs is crucial to gaining exposure? If so, which ones?

AGS: Art fairs are an excellent source for finding outstanding works by today's most dynamic artists. Further, the expansion of programming at major art fairs–Art Basel, Frieze, and Armory, for example–increasingly includes stimulating discussions about many aspects of the art world, offering art world professionals opportunities to share and learn from their peers. 21c attends several art fairs annually, from which the museum has not only acquired numerous works of art, but where artists have been discovered and commissioned to create site-specific installations.

Photo by Rett Peek, courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

Photo by Rett Peek, courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

SW: Has the Internet dramatically changed the dynamic of your business?

AGS: The Internet has certainly changed many dynamics of the art market, as well as how art is created and shared with the public. As a curator of Contemporary Art, I use artnet to keep abreast of exhibitions and auctions, to keep track of prices, and more. While I attend art events frequently in all three 21c locations, as well as in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and in other cities in the United States and Europe, the Internet is an invaluable resource for discovering new art, staying up-to-date on gallery and museum exhibitions, and of course, for connecting with artists, gallerists, curators, and other art professionals. Social media and Internet websites provide useful platforms for 21c to share information and create dialogue about our featured art and artists to an ever-expanding audience.

Untitled by Giovanni Ozzola

Giovanni Ozzola, Untitled, 2013, bell with handwritten text, Gazelli Art House, London, UK