To Begin, Again: A Prehistory of the Wex, 1968-89
Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH
February 5 - May 8, 2022
To Begin, Again examines the cultural currents that gave rise to the Wexner Cetner for the Arts through the largest presentation of Ohio State's permanent collection to date.
During the 1970s and 1980s, The Ohio State University emerged as an unlikely laboratory of avant-garde culture, offering a platform for dialogue and experimentation across audiences and media. This creative ferment shaped the orientation of contemporary art on campus and in the region, ultimately inspiring the creation of the Wexner Center in 1989.
Inspired by the uprisings of 2020, To Begin, Again traces this story back to the formative revolts of late 1960s, a period that similarly saw artists, activists, and students demand systemic change from mainstream institutions. Ohio State was no exception. Rocked by protests that brought the campus to a standstill in April and May of 1970, the university sought to chart a new direction in the years that followed. Emblematic of the changing culture was the school’s decision to empower a recent MFA graduate, Betty Collings, to revamp the program of the University Gallery of Fine Art. Under Collings, the gallery assembled an acclaimed collection of contemporary art; it also served as a gathering place for visiting artists, critics, and curators, implanting a model of multidisciplinary practice to be expanded by the future Wex. In the 1980s, with new Director Jonathan Green, the gallery’s program took a more openly activist approach, launching several major community-led exhibitions addressing the politics of feminism, sexual violence, American imperialism, and the AIDS crisis.
Illuminating these initiatives and the social movements that informed them, To Begin, Again is organized around a selection of more than 80 works acquired by the former University Gallery—including works by Futura2000, Eva Hesse, Adrian Piper, Sol LeWitt, and Frank Stella, which the center has stewarded since its founding. The exhibition also includes loaned objects that were previously shown at the university; works by former Ohio State faculty, students, and visiting artists; plus a selection of historical ephemera that deepen and enrich the narrative.
Join us Friday, February 4, for a panel discussion with curator Daniel Marcus, art historian Julian Myers-Szupinska, former University Gallery staffers Stephanie K. Blackwood and Mark Svede (all of whom contribute to the exhibition’s robust gallery guide), and artist and educator Jerri Allyn.
Vito Acconci* • Mary Albrecht* • Jerri Allyn* • Benny Andrews* • Artists’ Poster Committee of Art Workers Coalition* • Rudolf Baranik* • Lynda Benglis* • Billy Al Bengston* • Mel Bochner* • Gary Bower* • Matt Bower* • Joan Brown • Chris Burden • Peter Campus* • Josely Carvalho • Colleen Casey* • Michael Cianchetti* • Reverend St. Patrick Clay* • Betty Collings • Columbus AIDS Task Force • Charles Csuri* • Peter d’Agostino • John DeFazio* • Agnes Denes* • Frank Detillo* • Ann Fessler • Futura2000* • James George • Sam Gilliam* • Heidi Gluck* • Ilona Granet • John Greyson • Hans Haacke* • Donald E. Harvey* • Eva Hesse* • Barbara Hammer • Michael Horvath* • Isaac Julien • Tom Kalin* • Bertram Katz* • Michael Keyes • Shigeko Kubota* • Victor Landweber* • Barry Le Va* • James Lenavitt* • Sol LeWitt* • Craig Lucas* • Vicki Mansoor* • Duane Michals* • Lynette Molnar • Elizabeth Murray* • Dennis Oppenheim* • Nam June Paik* • Adrian Piper* • William Price* • William Ramage* • Harold Reddicliffe* • Dan Reeves* • Dorothea Rockburne* • Joel Shapiro* • Robert Smithson* • Allan Sekula • John M. Sokol* • Nancy Spero* • Frank Stella* • May Stevens* • Robert J. Stull • Testing the Limits Collective • Norman Toynton* • Richard Tuttle* • Woody and Steina Vasulka* • Ruth Vollmer* • Jackie Winsor* • Joseph E. Yoakum • Scott Zaher*
*From the collection of The Ohio State University, Wexner Center for the Arts