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Ed McGowin: Name Change

July 12 - September 28, 2008


Flint Institute of Arts opens the summer temporary exhibition titled Ed McGowin: Name Change to the public July 12 through September 28, 2008.

Ed McGowin legally changed his name twelve times and has continued to create distinct artwork for each persona over the past three and a half decades. The Name Change project, started in 1970, challenged the concept that an artist's work should develop as a "linear chain-link model with each creation leading logically to the next."

McGowin believes this theory, under different identities will allow for a broader approach to receiving this body of work without tying them to the past history or future expectations. This exhibition will feature a survey of his paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and installations.

A native of Mississippi, the artist has lived and worked in New York since the 1970's. He has exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the United States, Europe and Asia including numerous public outdoor commissions. McGowin is a Professor at State University of New York, Old Westbury and former Chair of the Department of Sculpture at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


Wall text from the exhibition

Name Change

This project was started in 1970 to explore a theory I conceived about the way art history would evolve in the future. I developed this theory as a means of freeing myself from a system that I found frustrating as young artist at the beginning of my career: that my work should develop as a linear chain-link model with each creation leading logically to the next. Instead, I preferred to envision my work as a three-dimensional sphere getting larger over time. To demonstrate this theory I had my name changed legally twelve times in the District of Columbia Court System. For each name I created works of art and exhibited them at the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1972. For the past thirty-five years I have continued to create works for the twelve names. This catalogue is about that work.

Had I created all of these works under one name, I believe they would have been received very differently, with critical analysis of the development of the artist figuring prominently in the consideration of each piece. The different identities under which I made this art may allow for a broader approach to receiving these images, without tying them to past history or future expectations.

- Ed McGowin


Artist statements for the twelve identities of Ed McGowin

Isaac Noel Anderson

Artist Statement:

Inscapes are an invention to activate the volume of the large-scale sculpture as a functional element.

Issac Noel Anderson's art is based on a futurist view of the world, embodied in a form of sculpture referred to as an "inscape." While sculpture conventionally emphasizes the formal aspect of a work's exterior appearance -- scale, proportion, material, and surface treatment, Anderson's sculptures are understood as a combination of the interior space of the work, which often include narrative elements, and its exterior form. In doing so, the inscape invites the viewer to experience the interaction of the work's dual perspectives to interpret its meaning.


Thorton Modestus Dossett

Artist Statement:

The work explores the blending of the black and white cultures in the US. The experiences of a young white male in a segregated society are the point of departure for the work.

Thorton Modestus Dossett's art is a reflection of his experience as a young man growing up in the South during the 1950s and early 1960s. His paintings and sculptures include visual narratives that examine the history of racial relations in the Deep South, expressing "what happened when the two cultures that had gone through very dramatic psychological damage, enslavement, losing the Civil War, the only part of our society ever defeated and occupied -- when those two cultures came together and what that produced." (right: Thorton Modestus Dosset, Medgar, carved and painted wood, 1997, 16 x 12 inches. Collection of the Artist)

Euri Ignatius Everpure

Artist Statement:

Secret information that surprises. The interiors, when discovered, are intended to eliminate any formal concerns related to the exterior.

Euri Ignatius Everpure's figural sculptures open to reveal strange and often disturbing interior narratives. Everpure emphasizes the startling contrast between the work's objective exterior form and its subjective, psychologically charged interior space. In doing so, the viewer experiences the shifting focus between the sculpture's outward appearance and the narrative space within. (left: Euri Ignatius Everpure, Betty With Red Dress, cast bronze, 17 inches tall. Collection of the Artist)

Alva Isaiah Fost

Artist Statement:

This work activates the space between the surface of the transparent object and the opaque ground that is behind it. It is a literal extension of some of the visual space concerns related to modernist painting.

Alva Isaiah Fost was one of the first artists to explore the potential of vacuum formed sculpture. Fost's sculptures are a synthesis of the innovations in art of the late 1960s and 1970s, combining the colorful vitality of Pop art with an interest in new materials and forms of contemporary sculpture.


Nathan Ellis McDuff

Nathan Ellis McDuff passed away in 1973 without ever having made a verbal statement about his work. The original work of McDuff, concerned with time and how it is divided, is all that remains.

McDuff produced a single body of work during his life, which involved blowing up Dairy Queen ice cream cones. McDuff documented this as a series of photographs and four silkscreen prints.

William Edward McGowin

Artists Statement:

The public sculpture is made in a visual language that is accessible to the public.

Ed McGowin has completed twenty site-specific public art commissions, including works for the United States General Services Administration, the Dallas Rapid Transit Authority, the Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C., the Queens New York Supreme Court, and the New Mexico Department of Highways. A number of developmental foam and board models, cast bronze figures, and woodcarvings related to McGowin's public commissions are presented in the exhibition.

Nicholas Gregory Nazianzen

Artist Statement:

I try to get the viewer to combine the information in the frame with the information of the painting to make the entire subject become clear.

Nicholas Gregory Nazianzen's paintings are enclosed within carved frames that contain narrative content that directly and indirectly contribute to the narrative themes of the paintings. Nazianzen's compositions depict densely crowded scenes of people set at the forefront of the picture plane. Their nervous actions are mirrored by the frames intricate carvings, which interconnect with the compositions narrative content.


Melvill Douglas O'Connor

Artist Statement:

Shaped frame paintings ask the viewer to combine the two elements that contradict each other to create a third experience that is the subject of the work.

Melvill Douglas O'Connor's shaped frames, some fabricated in galvanized steel, others in vacuum formed plastic, provide added narrative content to the image contained within. The frames are shaped in a wide variety of familiar, everyday objects, including clocks, telephones, beds, television and tables. Their shapes add a compelling sculptural as well as narrative aspect to the overall perception of the work.

Lawrence Steven Orlean

Artist Statement:

The book paintings use a language that is invented to relate to the images without describing them. This language is not a code but its own system.

Lawrence Steven Orlean's book shaped paintings contain depictions of an opened book with texts and images. The texts are not a code, but what Orlean describes as a "language unto itself," which connects to a distant recollection of his birthplace, and a desire to retrieve through visual representation an unknown past.

Irby Benjamin Roy

Artist Statement:

These works intend to have the viewer speculate and elaborate on a narrative about physical elements in the installation.

Irby Benjamin Roy's installations relate stories about people and their relationship to the subject matter of the installation. The installation's appearance is a point of departure for the viewer to become engaged with the story. Roy's Car Crash includes the artist's audio narration -- as the viewer draws close to the installation, the narration become audible, recounting the story of a woman whose life is related to the crash. The combined visual and narrative aspect of Roy's installation prompts the viewer to construct the work's meaning.

Edward Everett Updike

Artist Statement:

The dog is an alter ego that can express aggression and anger but the dog is never the subject of the painting.

Edward Everett Updike's paintings confront the viewer with a squat legged, menacing white dog that suggests a symbolic representation of pure aggression. Updike's dog pictures have a consistent theme, the dog posed in relation to a single object such as a chair, television set, mirror, or cake with candles, set within the corner of a large empty room. Updike challenges the viewer to speculate on the meaning of these paintings, their inexplicable juxtapositions, and the unsettling psychological tensions these images provoke. (right: Edward Everett Updike, Dog and Cake, airbrush ink and acrylic on rag board, 30 x 20 inches. Collection of the Artist)

Ingram Andrew Young

Artist Statement:

These paintings look at the ironic and absurd and their relation to a distinct expression of Southern culture.

Ingram Andrew Young's large-scale paintings convey the "ironic and absurd" through his surreal combinations of familiar forms within strangely empty settings -- Ship to Shore depicts an arm jutting from the bottom of the picture plane across a wide expanse of open sea, Birthday Cake has a cake mysteriously floating above a floor, while Chair and Mirror evokes the ghostly image of a sheet-covered chair placed in front of a large mirror.

rev. 8/19/08

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