Saya Woolfalk: The Empathics was the first solo museum exhibition by the acclaimed multimedia artist and the second in MAM’s New Directions series of contemporary art exhibitions. Blending fantasy, humor, and play, Woolfalk’s art draws on anthropology, mythology, and fashion to present a fantastical world that encourages us to consider our most pressing societal issues, particularly concerning cultural difference, in a new light. The titular Empathics are a fictional group of women who, the artist imagines, blend racial and ethnic identities as they metamorphose, taking on characteristics of both humans and plants. In the exhibition, the Empathics’ story unfolded in the form of a fictitious ethnographic display—yet with kaleidoscopic colors, patterns, and textures unique to Woolfalk’s extraordinary vision. Woolfalk’s colorful installation included human-scale, fabric-based sculptures, some of which double as costumes in her innovative performances; intricate paintings; thought-provoking videos; and interactive web technologies.
The exhibition is organized by Alexandra Schwartz, MAM’s curator of contemporary art and founder of the New Directions series, with Kimberly Fisher, curatorial assistant.
New Directions is an annual contemporary art exhibition series, launched in 2011 to inaugurate MAM’s new contemporary art program. It spotlights emerging to mid-career artists working in all media.
Learn more about the exhibition and the artist in this electronic brochure, including a behind-the-scenes video.
View the brochure
One of the works in Saya Woolfalk: The Empathics was an interactive website, fictiously produced by the Institute of Empathy to tell the story of The Empathics. You can access this website at instituteofempathy.org.
Saya Woolfalk: The Empathics is made possible with generous Exhibition Angel support from the Vance Wall Foundation, Rose and John Cali, Holly English and Fred Smagorinsky, Tracy Higgins and James Leitner, Ann and Mel Schaffer, and Margo and Frank Walter.