The Spectacular of Vernacular
This traveling exhibition focused on the role of vernacular forms in the work of 25 contemporary artists who utilize craft, folklore, and roadside kitsch to explore culturally specific iconography in the context of an increasingly global world of art. The exhibition looked closely at this particular brand of culture known as the vernacular, a term used to describe amateur or regional forms of expression that tend to be more homegrown than high-end. From dime-store plaques and snapshot photography to the objects attending folk rituals, these items often possess a warm familiarity. Yet for the artists who take them on as subjects, these humble forms become nuanced and loaded symbols, offering clues about who we are and where we live. The culture of today provides a vast source material of readily accessible and mass-produced goods, which is in direct contrast with the tangible, locatable reality addressed by the artists in The Spectacular of Vernacular. In a world that is increasingly networked, with influences flowing in from an endless stream of sites and sources, the issue of what remains particularized, even regionalized, is an open question—and one among many that artists engaging the vernacular seek to address.
The exhibition was organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.