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Ann C. Collins

Ann C. Collins is a writer living in Brooklyn. She holds an MFA in Art Criticism and Writing from the School of Visual Arts.

In Conversation

Ahmed Alsoudani with Ann C. Collins

Ahmed Alsoudani’s work carries memories of trauma and the loneliness of exile. His distinctive vocabulary throws viewers into spaces roiling with the complications of being as shapes and colors struggle to co-exist. Settling in to look at his work, I find that the initial shock of his imagery softens as the familiarity of his forms elicits a feeling I can only describe as a deep empathy, a recognition of our collective state.

In Conversation

Jennie C. Jones with Ann C. Collins

Perception comes gradually, when the mind is quieted enough for awareness to seep in, and even then, it is never fixed. Mingling visual and aural work, lineage and legacy, Jennie C. Jones: Dynamics infuses the Guggenheim Museum with minimalist abstractions and tonal callings. The first Black woman to have a solo exhibition in Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic rotunda, Jones throws open long-held narratives of art history, expanding the tracings of inspiration and influence to include both Black and female histories. Mining a vein of work in which paintings stand as sculptures, music is rendered in graphic statements, and color becomes a source of light, Jones’s work throws us off balance, requires us to shift and reposition ourselves in response to her slow reveals. As her gentle harmonics roll down from the oculus, the space itself seems to sway and expand.

In Conversation

Nash Glynn with Ann C. Collins

In January of this year, Nash Glynn fell in love with a loft in an old warehouse building near the Seaport. She had been living and working in Brooklyn for years, in an industrial corner of Greenpoint, but as the pandemic lifted, she was looking for a change. The space, filled with sunlight and the salty breezes that blow inland from New York Harbor, gave her exactly that.

Angela Fraleigh: Sound the Deep Waters

Circling the gallery, I felt bolstered by the communities of women the artist assembles. Fraleigh does not show them “at work,” but relaxing together—something I, like so many women, feel guilty admitting I need.

Kelly Akashi: Mood Organ

Akashi’s installation is mesmerizing, taking on an almost fetishistic significance. The hands cradle and explore the surfaces of her glass objects without regard for whatever pathogen might be lurking in this moment of rabid hand-sanitizing.

Summer McCorkle: des abends

McCorkle’s camera moves are minimal. She allows her images to linger on screen. Things feel informal and sincere, allowing the viewer to settle in and listen.

Cindy Sherman: 1977–1982

In every photo, Sherman’s sense of light and shadows is breathtaking, her images as beautiful as they are unnerving.

Our Selves: Photographs by Women Artists from Helen Kornblum

Use of the photo image in reworking narratives lies at the heart of Our Selves, an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art of ninety photographs made by women artists.

Myrlande Constant: Drapo

One man rests on a bended knee, his hands clasped at his chest in a gesture of gratitude. In the distance, a patchwork of green fields studded with fruit trees give way to silvery mountains and a blue sky. The luminescence of Constant’s materials infuses the scene with life. Spirits seem to move, the landscape breathes. Working its charm, the drapo induces a visceral sense of place: I feel as if I am inside of the image, even as I am standing in the gallery looking at it.

François-Marie Banier: Writings & Pictures

Francois-Marie Banier’s Writings & Pictures, a small yet ebullient sampling of nearly sixty years of artmaking, provides a snapshot of an artist’s practice that is as unconstrained as it is prolific. Persistently following inspiration and impulse, Banier refuses categorization and has worked in whichever collisions of medium and style best serve his continuous need to create.

Christina Forrer

In medieval Europe, tapestries were hung in castle rooms to keep out drafts and cold. Richly decorated with religious scenes or myths, these woven lengths of cloth provided the household occupants, even those who were illiterate, pictorial stories that engaged and enlightened.

Betye Saar: The Legend of Black Girl’s Window

The exhibition’s centerpiece is a pivotal work in the Saar’s career that blended the mystical imagery the artist was using in her ongoing printmaking practice with political and biographical elements to form a self-portrait assemblage.

Jennie C. Jones: New Compositions

Jones is most at home at the intersection of music and art history, building hybrids of the two while questioning her place within the legacy of the latter: How does the work of a Black woman artist fit into a tradition dominated by white men? Turning music into objects and objects into auditory experiences, she troubles the boundaries of any category in which she might be contained and does so with elegance and control.

Dread Scott: Goddam

“The name of this tune is Mississippi Goddam,” Nina Simone announced during her 1964 concert at Carnegie Hall. “And I mean every word of it.” A response to the assassination of Medgar Evers and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in which four little girls were killed, events which had occurred the previous year, Simone’s expression of grief, frustration, and anger became an anthem of the ongoing Civil Rights Movement; its debut marked a sharp turn towards the political in the singer’s career. Nearly sixty years later, artist Dread Scott links Simone’s songs of protest to the present-day, creating four large screen-prints on canvas in which contemporary images acknowledge the continuation of hatred and violence directed towards Black Americans, women, and LGBTQ+ communities.

Rindon Johnson: Law of Large Numbers

Gathering materials that are aged, processed, transmuted, and repurposed, Johnson does not set his focus on fixed objects but in the way things evolve over time.

Meret Oppenheim: My Exhibition

More than 180 of Meret Oppenheim’s works—paintings, sculptures, object constructions, drawings, collages, and prints—are jam-packed into Meret Oppenheim: My Exhibition, an ebullient if at times overwhelming retrospective.

Benoît Platéus: Other Percolators

While the pictures retain distinct traces of the images from which Platéus works, his titles nudge viewers to riff on the visual and textual clues he presents, freely allowing their own associations to bubble up. It is his hope that new possibilities of interpretation will arise with each encounter as viewers interact with the works, revealing the ways in which seeing is a deeply personal—and perhaps a bit magical—act.

Michelangelo Pistoletto

Pistoletto’s art lies not so much in the physical objects he creates, but in what happens to us when we encounter them, and in the potential they inspire.

Alice Neel: People Come First

Curators Randall Griffey and Kelly Baum gather more than 100 of the artist’s paintings, watercolors and drawings in Alice Neel: People Come First, a retrospective of the 60 years Neel spent transposing New York and its citizens into work that bears witness to the struggles of everyday life in the city as much as it dignifies the individual.

Astrid Kajsa Nylander: minijobs

In her exhibition minijobs at Page (NYC), the Stockholm-based artist Astrid Kajsa Nylander builds a collection of paintings that revel in the possibilities of the diminutive sewing notion while challenging the relegation of women’s artmaking to realms of craft and hobby.

Josh Smith: High as Fuck

The paintings show the empty streets of Smith’s neighborhood, seen during his morning and evening walks through a city in lockdown. Choosing a cool palette of greens and blues for street and sky, Smith creates a forlorn environment into which he angles houses and buildings in vibrant hues of red, yellow, and pink.

Billie Zangewa: Wings of Change

Parenthood is essentially a temporary arrangement, but one that can provide an abundance of joy even in the most ordinary moments. Billie Zangewa refines this muddle of emotion in eight fabric collages that make up her current exhibition.

The Hugo Boss Prize 2018: Simone Leigh, Loophole of Retreat

The tension between forced confinement and self-designed sanctuary lies at the heart of Leigh’s art-making, which spans sculpture, installation, video, and social practice: the show takes its name from the 1861 memoir of slave-turned-abolitionist and writer Harriet Jacobs

Wangechi Mutu: The NewOnes, will free Us

The Met façade was finished in 1902, but the niches have remained empty ever since, largely unnoticed by museum visitors and passersby—until now. Kenyan-American artist Wangechi Mutu fills the spaces with statues of Afro-futuristic women who employ the pedestals as thrones, inaugurating what will be an annual commission for the museum’s façade.

The Dream Had Me

As COVID-19 restrictions continue, finding art that can be fully experienced while ensconced at home requires diligence. Earlid, an online audio gallery developed and curated by Joan Schuman, presents work that lives as comfortably online as anywhere else.

Barthélemy Toguo: Urban Requiem

It started with a passport. For artist Barthélemy Toguo, movement through the world was tethered to the small book he was required to carry when he traveled, within which his progress could be tracked at every border he tried to cross.

Winfred Rembert: 1945–2021

Winfred Rembert’s series examines America’s shameful and not-too-distant history with heartbreaking honesty, bearing witness to the ferocious opposition waged against civil rights and the use of incarceration as a means of silencing individuals.

Faith Ringgold: American People

Organized by The New Museum’s artistic director Massimiliano Gioni with curator Gary Carrion-Murayari and curatorial assistant Madeline Weisburg, American People is jam-packed with more than forty years of Faith Ringgold’s most prominent work.

Ficre Ghebreyesus: I Believe We Are Lost

“To emigrate,” John Berger writes in And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos, “is always to dismantle the center of the world, and so to move into a lost, disoriented one of fragments.” For artist Ficre Ghebreyesus (1962–2012), who fled Eritrea during the period of Red Terror, after the country was annexed by Ethiopia, those fragments became the basis of a visual language that filled the images he made with flashes of memory from his early life and evocations of the loneliness of transience. Two dozen of his paintings and pastels make up Ficre Ghebreyesus: I Believe We Are Lost at Galerie Lelong.

Alicja Kwade: ParaPivot

In two large-scale sculptures, ParaPivot I (2019) and ParaPivot II (2019), she erects a series of black powder-coated steel frames ranging from 8 to 12 feet high, which intersect at their bases and fan out in different directions, forming an array of geometric shapes that shift and change with an almost kinetic quality as viewers wander between and around them.

Banu Cennetoğlu

Turkish artist Banu Cennetoğlu, in her first US solo exhibition at SculptureCenter, curated by Sohrab Mohebbi with Kyle Dancewicz, assembled an archive of every video file and photograph she has taken over a twelve-year period into one continuous reel.

Simone Fattal: Works and Days

In 1971, Simone Fattal invited a camera crew into her kitchen in Beirut to help her create a video self-portrait. The footage shows the then 29-year-old artist dressed in a white shirt tied at her waist. She repeatedly tucks her shoulder-length hair behind her ear as she speaks.

Kent Monkman: mistikôsiwak (Wooden Boat People)

It may be that history, as Winston Churchill said, is written by the victors, but a deep satisfaction can be had for those who redraft it. Cree artist Kent Monkman does just that for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s inaugural Great Hall Commission. Monkman reverses the European gaze, presenting Indigenous people as heroes who welcome and rescue invading newcomers.

Maria Antelman: Disassembler

On a bleak, late December afternoon in late December, the heavy door to Pioneer Works in Red Hook gives way to a dark stairwell that serves as the gallery’s vestibule. Overhead, an imposing video monitor holds a silent black-and-white image of a hand, palm open, fingertips twitching in and out.

Projects: Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill

11 small paintings—Hill calls them “spells”—line the walls of the gallery. For each, the artist soaks paper in Crisco oil infused with tobacco, allowing it to dry before sewing on small trinkets and mementos found on walks through her neighborhood in Vancouver. The spells are colored with washes of oil paint, and further embellished with magazine cutouts, cigarettes, beer-can tabs, and tobacco buds.

William Wegman: Writing by Artist

Pulling from the strata of nearly-forgotten objects and ephemera, Andrew Lampert, the show’s curator who also edited the book, pieces together an abundance of samplings that align as much with Wegman’s fidelity to writing and language as with his conceptual occupations and absurd humor.

False Flag: The Space Between Paranoia and Reason

In conspiracy theory parlance, false flags are acts of violence covertly staged as diversions by governments which then blame terrorist groups. As the exhibition’s springboard, the concept is used to lure the viewer into a state of mind in which no one is to be trusted and nothing is as it seems.

Wolf Tones

Wolves, we all know, are not to be trusted. They disguise themselves in sheep’s clothing or wait at the door for impending ruin. They come as a howl in the darkness, their presence heard but not seen. To cry wolf is to raise a false alarm, thereby forfeiting trust and belief. In music, a wolf sometimes lurks in a stringed instrument, often a cello.

CUE Art Foundation

Ann C. Collins profiles the CUE Art Foundation.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

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