FREEDOM: Just Another Word For... is Kidspace @ MASS MoCA's contribution to this year's three-museum theme Words & Images. The Kidspace @ MASS MoCA exhibition is a visual exploration of how words and art can have multiple meanings. Freedom opens June 15, 2013, and will be on view through May 2014. It includes work by Xu Bing, Long-Bin Chen, Gonkar Gyatso, Ran Hwang, Ang Tsherin Sherpa, and Roger Shimomura, and features opportunities for children to develop their own interpretations and words to describe the work on view.
Words & Images, a three-museum collaborative project, explores the contexts in which words are used, the ways in which artists express the meanings of words visually, and the different kinds of words that may be associated with visual images. The goal of the project is to help children expand their visual vocabulary, and to understand that there are often many meanings that a single word or image may have. Each of the three museums (The Clark, Williams College Museum of Art, and MASS MoCA) will develop a project focusing on its own interpretation of the theme. An annual summer institute for teachers (July 8-12, 2013) will also explore words and images as the central theme.
The Kidspace @ MASS MoCA exhibition begins with a focus on the word Freedom. In many American schools, the topic of freedom is investigated in the social studies curriculum, primarily through the lens of American history. As a result, many children, when asked to draw a picture about freedom, may be stumped to come up with anything other than an American flag or the Statue of Liberty. The term, however, has much broader meanings, which this exhibition and related programs will illuminate. It will examine the artists' work illustrating both the multiple paths to freedom and limitations placed on it.
Freedom features six world-renowned artists of Asian descent including Roger Shimomura, Ang Tsherin Sherpa, Ran Hwang, Gonkar Gyatso, Long-Bin Chen, and Xu Bing. Shimomura, born in Seattle, Washington, who was in a WWII Japanese-American internment camp as a child, will include pop art paintings of himself as various cartoon characters and superheroes. Sherpa, born in Nepal, puts a pop art twist on traditional Tibetan thangka paintings. Hwang, born in Korea, will show her meditative installations depicting caged and un-caged birds made from buttons. Gyatso, born in Tibet, turns sculptures of the Buddha into pop icons using collage materials. Chen, of Taiwan, whose exhibitions include a popular solo show in Kidspace (2005), will display his latest book sculpture. A special feature of the exhibition will be an interactive installation by Xu Bing, of China, whose work is featured in our main galleries; families can try their hand at calligraphy and with forming a scaled-down version of his light-box landscape drawing.
A gallery guide, special interactive labels, and opportunities to reflect on the work will encourage visitors to re-interpret or define the work on view, leading to deeper understandings of the concept of freedom. Additionally, Kidspace's now-famous Art Bar will invite visitors to make their own "words of art" for which they will develop their own representations of various words, and will engage in making artistic material choices.