Ways of Seeing: An Exploration of Line

/ Exhibitions

It's Like This, Chakaia Booker, rubber tires, screws, and wood
Chakaia Booker, American, born 1953, It’s Like This, 2001, rubber tires, screws, and wood; Gift of Ellen and Fred Elsas, 2003.47 © Chakaia Booker, courtesy, Marlborough Gallery, New YorkSeptember 8 · 2018–February 10 · 2019 · Bohorfoush Gallery

We see lines everywhere in daily life: in cracks on the sidewalk, on our notebook paper, and as we stand in lines buying groceries, just to name a few. We may learn in school that a line is created by connecting two points in space. How is line defined in visual arts? How do artists use line to create meaningful works of art?

Merritt Johnson, Native American, 2009, oil and alkyd on canvas, Collection of the Art Fund, Inc. at the Birmingham Museum of Art; Gift of the artist, AFI.463.2012

This exhibition will begin by answering these questions. Part One will create a vocabulary of line, giving viewers the tools to see, understand, and talk about line in the visual arts. Part Two will explore invisible lines that we experience instead of see. Each artwork in this section employs line to communicate about invisible lines drawn by social constructs such as race, gender, and borders, giving the viewer the opportunity to use the knowledge they gained in the first section to undercover meaning in the second.

While the first part of this exhibition is meant to answer questions and teach lessons about line as a formal element in visual art, the second half is purposed to generate more thinking, questioning, and conversation about what divides, what unites, and the space between the two.

Li Kui, China, 1793–1879, Landscape, Qing dynasty (1644–
1912), 19th century, ink and color on paper; Museum purchase with funds from the Endowed
Fund for Acquisitions and the Birmingham Asian Art Society, 1988.82.69

Ways of Seeing is an ongoing series of exhibitions located in the Bohorfoush Gallery that explores themes, perspectives, and ideas from across the Museum’s global art collections. We extend our gratitude to the City of Birmingham for their sustained support for the Museum and its mission.

Ways of Seeing opens on September 8, 2018.