Elias Sime, Objects to be Destroyed, and The Kids are Alright

Elias Sime. Tightrope 8, 2009–14. Reclaimed electronic components on panel, 44 1/16 x 70 13/16 in. (112 x 180 cm). Private collection, New York. © Elias Sime. Photograph by Adam Reich Photography.

Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries
February 29-May 24

Elias Sime: Tightrope, the first major traveling survey dedicated to the Ethiopian artist’s work, features numerous large-scale tableaus. From afar, these works give the appearance of abstract paintings. However, upon closer inspection, one sees these color-block compositions are assembled from unexpected materials like motherboards, buttons and electrical wire. First conceiving of a composition, the artist then sources the items to realize his concept, often purchasing them new or utilizing materials he has collected. In some cases, it takes him years to finish a work because he must locate a sufficient quantity of a specific material, searching stores and marketplaces, to complete a composition.

Sime maintains that his work is not about recycling, but rather his attraction to the properties of nontraditional materials. He sees the latent beauty in functional objects and seeks to challenge traditional ideas of which types of media are appropriate for creating fine art. The balancing act referenced by the title of Sime’s series—and of this exhibition—relates to the advancements that technology has made possible, as well as its detrimental impact as a mediator of our interactions and lived experiences. “It becomes so much a part of us that we can’t even disconnect from it. It actually takes us from being human, connects us to becoming selfish, to exemplifying selfishness,” Sime says. “Because we talk just with the machine the entire conversation, with the machine. If you don’t talk to people face to face, you won’t understand complex issues, complex personalities, love, relationships.”

Sime weaves his materials into breathtaking artworks that express a sense of personal connection. “My art is a reflection of who I am as a human being without borders, labels, and imposed identity,” he says. “There is a sense of unity and cooperation that I reflect through my art. At the root of all of it is love and passion.”


Elias Sime: Tightrope is organized by the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College, Clinton, New York. Its presentation in Akron is made possible through the generous support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; the Ohio Arts Council; The Tom and Marilyn Merryweather Fund; the Kenneth L. Calhoun Charitable Trust, KeyBank, Trustee; Katie and Mark Smucker; and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph S. Kanfer.


Man Ray (a.k.a. Emmanuel Radnitsky, Indestructible Object, 1923
(1975 edition), 9 1/4 x 4 1/2 x 4 1/2 in., metronome with cardboard, Collection of the Akron Art Museum, Gift of John Coplans, 1979.10

Judith Bear Isroff Gallery
February 29-August 9

Objects to be Destroyed is full of everyday items, including glass bottles, clocks, rocks and umbrellas. The artists in this exhibition incorporate found man-made products or natural materials into their sculptures, assemblages and photographs. This practice dates to the early 1910s, when artists such as Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp began displaying unexpected objects in exhibitions as a way to draw attention to the items’ physical and aesthetic characteristics. They also encouraged viewers to reconsider the artistic process as an intellectual rather than a purely technique-driven pursuit.

Man Ray and Duchamp’s innovations have had lasting impact, influencing artists working throughout the twentieth century and today. The artists of Objects to be Destroyed invite visitors to consider commonplace items in a new and unexpected way. In a sense, the artists destroy the objects they select as materials by preventing them from fulfilling their original use. At the same time, they grant them a new existence as works of art.


Objects to be Destroyed is organized by the Akron Art Museum and supported by funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Ohio Arts Council.


Vincent Cianni, “Beating Juanito, South Fifth Street, Brooklyn, NY, 1997”, Gelatin silver print, 7 3/4 in. x 9 1/4 in. (19.69 cm x 23.5 cm), Gift of Edward J. Osowski in honor of the artist.

Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Gallery
March 28-August 9

The photographs in The Kids Are Alright examine young adult sub- and countercultures spanning the 1960s to the 2010s. Hanging out, goofing off and breaking rules may seem aimless, but these actions can be meaningful steps along the transition from childhood to adulthood. The artists in this exhibition capture this in-between period by blending into their subjects’ everyday lives, giving viewers access to spontaneous, candid moments.

Although The Kids Are Alright features lighthearted images of laughter, conversation and dancing, the artists also present darker scenes of recklessness and substance use. Some teens turn to action sports as a way to keep out of trouble, like those featured in Vincent Cianni’s 1990s series documenting the lives of Latinx rollerbladers in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. Skateboarding is a constant in Dylan Vitone’s panoramic photographs of Skatopia, near Rutland, Ohio, where homemade full pipes and other features provide a backdrop for drinking, smoking and lighting things on fire.


The Kids Are Alright is organized by the Akron Art Museum and supported by funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Ohio Arts Council and The Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation.



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