Art museums all over the world work hard to connect with their communities and to draw attention to the programming they’re organizing. It’s extremely important for institutions such as an art museum to keep up best practices and to strive to offer up interesting content worthy of a visit and revisit. Too often institutions lose sight of their core values and forget the area in which they are located.

In Akron, we are fortunate to have an art museum that continues to impress and connect, not only in the exhibits it puts on, but also in the works the museum chooses to obtain for its permanent collection.

Recently, the Akron Art Museum acquired a work by internationally famous artist Jenny Holzer, who is best known for her text-based public art projects. "All Fall," is an array of five double-sided LED signs with stainless steel housings: blue and green diodes on front, red and yellow diodes on back. The signs feature more than eight hours of text from three of Holzer’s previous projects, "Truisms" (1977-79); "Living" (1980-82) and "Survival" (1983-85).

Museum Director and CEO Mark Masuoka said, “The addition of Jenny Holzer’s 'All Fall' further enriches the museum’s collection of contemporary sculpture with yet another must-see artwork by an artist of international renown.”

“I used language because I wanted to offer content that people — not necessarily art people — could understand,” Holzer is quoted as saying. Viewing this work, it’s easy to connect with what the artist is intending.

The text moves along five straight arrays in a blue-white color that is reminiscent of some of the more awful “energy saving” lightbulbs we find ourselves graced with today. Crisscrossed over each other, the arrays emit an orange light onto the spaces behind them, which sometimes overlaps another arrays text and sometimes doesn’t. In the case where the light doesn’t, it ends up creating a dramatic cast of orange that is reminiscent of a commercial sign and/or something used for mood in a theater.

"Truisms" (1977-79), lists text phrases that share intentionally contradictory terms such as “ABUSE OF POWER COMES AS NO SURPRISE,” and “BAD INTENTIONS CAN YIELD GOOD RESULTS.” Holzer has said that these represent a "Reader’s Digest version of Eastern and Western thought.”

They, like all of Holtzer’s included texts, create a type of mood that expands what you are being presented with visually, especially as you continue to read what is being shared. If you do take the time to look through them, you might find yourself depressed or even motivated. Regardless, by perusing the text in this piece, you will get a sense of what was motivating the artist as she worked through what thoughts and ideas she wanted to share.

The text in "Living" (1980-82), includes a collection of aphoristic writings, such as “YOU’RE HOME FREE AS SOON AS NO ONE KNOWS WHERE TO FIND YOU,” that Holzer initially presented on bronze plaques, giving them an institutional, authoritative look. Aphoristic means a type of phrase or saying that might handed down by tradition from generation to generation. Like something your parents might say to you so that you remember an important tenet of how to act in everyday life.

The text in, "Survival" (1983-85), warns of the dangers of everyday life with pronouncements such as “PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT;” or “TURN SOFT AND LOVELY ANY TIME YOU HAVE A CHANCE,” slogans from "Survival" were originally displayed on large-scale electronic signboards in public spaces. If you do a quick search for Holzer you will see examples of these pieces in public spaces all over the world. They command the space they’re in, because they are often oversized dozens of feet in length.

Holzer created "All Fall" in a limited edition of just three. The piece synthesizes some of her previous pieces and highlights why she has played such a prominent role in contemporary art.

Holzer received a Bachelor of Arts from Ohio University in Athens, and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her artistic research has helped shaped thought in the international art world for more than 50 years. She was born in Gallipolis, Ohio in 1950 and has been awarded numerous honorary doctorates and honors earned throughout her career. "All Fall" helps to enrich your visit to the Akron Art Museum and highlights the quality of the art museum we have in our community.

 

Contact Anderson Turner at haturner3@gmail.com.