MISSOULA – Two nationally recognized contemporary artists will visit the University of Montana this fall as part of exhibitions on display at the Montana Museum of Art & Culture. Amanda Browder’s exhibition “End of the Infinite” and Vanssa German’s exhibition “Bitter Root” will be on display from Thursday, Oct. 16, to Saturday, Jan. 10, in the Meloy and Paxon galleries of the Performing Arts and Radio/Television Center at UM.
Each artist will visit UM at different times throughout the exhibition. Browder will be on hand for an opening reception Thursday, Oct. 16, beginning with an artist’s talk at 5 p.m. in the Masquer Theatre, followed by food and live music by Tom Catmull in the PAR/TV Center Lobby from 5:45 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
Thousands of visitors experienced Browder’s piece, “Rapunzel” which was installed on the southwest corner of the Missoula Mercantile Building as part of October First Friday Artwalk. During the reception and on the last day of the exhibition, large-scale fabric sculptures “Future Phenomenon” and “Good Morning!” will hang on the exterior of the PAR/TV Center.
Browder is a nationally celebrated fabric artist and Missoula native who creates large-scale fabric soft sculptures. Browder has exhibited internationally at the Nakaochiai Gallery in Tokyo; Lothringer 14 in Munich; White Columns in New York City; Gallery 400-UIC and The Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago. She has received grants from the Brooklyn Arts Council and the NPArt.
German will be in residence at UM and the Montana Museum of Art & Culture during the beginning of November. Her exhibition features mixed media sculptures that reference folk art and the transatlantic slave trade, or as she states, “the western coast of Africa, the east coast of the Carolinas, the east end of Pittsburgh.” German’s Homewood neighborhood in Pittsburgh has been called “One of America’s Most Violent Neighborhoods.” Her work is a response to gun violence and prostitution that stands in opposition to the community-building and healing words of Martin Luther King Jr.
This exhibition title has been abbreviated from German’s spoken-word phrase “Bitter Root, Lost Loot, Sore Tooth, Oh Shoot, Whole Truth, Traveling Reckoning Show,” reflecting the feeling of journey this body of work contains. She has a long affiliation with author James Lee Burke’s novel “Bitterroot.”
“I've been listening to this book on tape for about five years,” German said. “I listen to it over and over again, because it makes me feel like I am in Montana. I love hearing about the landscape. Whenever I need to, I listen to this book [and] I travel to Montana, to a wide place that is almost exactly the opposite from where I am, and it helps me to feel good.”
An accomplished performing artist, she received performance training at the Los Angeles Conservatory of the Performing Arts, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, South West College, University of Cincinnati, and the Los Angeles Theater Academy and received a an Onyx award for her performance in the Pittsburgh premiere of Cassandra Medley’s “Relativity.”
In 2007, German was recognized with a Duquesne Light Leadership Award for contributions to art and culture. She also is the founding artist of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s “She Said: words by women” poetry performance series, which brings nationally recognized writers and speakers to Pittsburgh. She is the winner of the 2008 Hip Hop Award for best spoken-word poet and was selected as a 2012 TEDx Cambridge spoken-word performer. She is the 2010 AAP Mendelson Exhibition Award Winner, was included in the 2012 and 2013 Art Basel Miami Beach fairs and recently had a solo exhibition at Pavel Zoubok Gallery in New York City.
German’s visit is sponsored by UM’s DiverseU, a series of activities that prompt dialogue in order to explore the complexities of human experience, promote understanding and create community through the practice of civil discourse.
As part of DiverseU, German will have a conversation with students and the public at 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6, in the University Center Theater. She will also offer a spoken-word performance in the University Center South Atrium at noon Friday, Nov. 7, before taking part in First Friday activities with a series of performances from 5 to 8 p.m. in downtown Missoula.
German will give an artist’s talk at 5:10 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10, in Social Science Building Room 356. The talk is sponsored by the Jim and Jane Dew Visiting Artist Lecture Fund.
German will be on hand for a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13, in the PAR/TV Center Lobby. The event is free and open to the public.
MMAC’s academic year gallery hours are 12-3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and 12-6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. The museum is open to the public with a suggested $5 donation. For more information call 406-243-2019 or visit http://www.umt.edu/montanamuseum.