With just under 70 different pieces from over 30 artists showcased in “Under Construction: Collage from The Mint Museum” currently at the Knoxville Museum of Art (KMA), the collection serves to give an introduction to the medium of collage as an art form and its development over the last century or so, rather than highlighting any single artist.
The different forms of collage in the exhibition range from traditional styles of cutting, layering and pasting flat images and text to more non-traditional styles, such as collecting and augmenting found objects to create three-dimensional spaces.
The international artists represented come from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds which, while creating an inclusive and equitable environment, at times can make the space feel mildly chaotic and leave the viewer overwhelmed.
For example, it feels strange to go from looking at a smaller work addressing white entitlement in America to then having to take a step back in order to view a large canvas covered with melted razors, toothbrushes, prescription pill bottles and other miscellaneous objects exploring an individual artist’s relationship with the objects in their personal life.
Despite this, it still felt possible to get a sense of personality and narrative from many of the artists whose work was on display. For example, one of the more featured artists was Romare Bearden. Bearden was an African American artist, author and songwriter, and much of his art that is in this collection explores the African American experience while having musical elements to it.
Even the fact that his medium is collage feels musical in that the layering of images and ideas is comparable to the layering of instruments and lyrics within a song. His work was not concentrated into one area but rather spread out among the whole exhibit. By the end the visitor almost feels as if they can pick out his work on the wall before getting close enough to read the informational blurbs provided next to the pieces.
A really fun and unique experience that is available to visitors is an interactive and ongoing collage piece on the first floor of the Museum. Visitors are encouraged to add to the work.
All the necessary materials are there for anyone hoping to contribute including scissors, glue, art books, pamphlets from previous exhibitions, fashion magazines, buttons, stickers, markers, crayons and other miscellaneous items.
It isn’t clear what they plan on doing with the collaborative piece when it is done, but it would be great for it to be included somewhere in the museum after the exhibition has finished as a testament to the creative power of the Knoxville community.
As always, admission to see this exhibition at the Knoxville Museum of Art is free. It will save time to register online prior to showing up because this registration process is mandatory, and the KMA does require masks for all visitors. Anyone hoping to see this exhibition has until Nov. 7 to visit.