The Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art is pleased to present Am I Your Type, an exhibition centered around the communicative possibilities of text and typefaces. Here, artists, designers, and Las Vegas history come together to illuminate a variety of intersections between written language and the visual arts. The exhibition features art from the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art’s permanent collection along with archival materials from UNLV Special Collections and Archives and works by local artists, some of whom are showing at the Marjorie Barrick Museum for the first time.
By presenting language as an optical phenomenon, this exhibition opens up alternative ways to understand its potential for absurdity as well as force and concreteness. Words in art can be divorced from their usual settings in books or in blocks of on-screen text and brought into new contexts where their unexpected possibilities become apparent.
A visual presentation of language can give a conceptual artist like Robert Barry an opportunity to exhibit words as semi-isolated collections of lines and angles, suggesting an ambiguous gap between these familiar shapes and their meanings. On the other hand, it can manifest itself as the proactive firmness of the words “No Contract. No Peace” printed on the signs carried in a rally on Fremont Street by members of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, or through the handmade posters of Latinos Unidos Contra El Sida saying yes to life and no to AIDS at a Gay Pride parade in Sunset Park. Incorporating text in objects can give them additional dimensions, as it does when Danielle Kelly uses fabric printed with aggressive words like “Wack!” and “Bam” to make a soft stuffed form.
Visual language can be used to tell stories, to create legal documents, to offer us food, wine, or entertainment, and to assign names to the places and objects around us. Sometimes it allows an artist to pass on information about their lives, cast light on historical events, or tempt the viewer with a fictional narrative. But language is also slippery, and the artists who use it are aware of the power of redaction, elision, distortion, and onomatopoeia. Using words means choosing which ones to leave out, exploring new ways in which letters can be reversed, altered, and cropped, and then finding out how these decisions will shape the viewers’ reactions.
Am I Your Type features artworks in a range of mediums, including painting, sculpture, video, printmaking, and drawing. These works share space with other materials such as casino promotions, vintage menus, and photographs of public gatherings around Las Vegas. The exhibition includes a continuation and expansion of Elena Brokaw’s celebrated 2021 exhibition, Human Resource Exploitation: A Family Album, with five new panels that did not appear in the original curation.
This exhibition includes work by China Adams, Robert Barry, Erik Beehn, Anthony Bondi, Elena Brokaw & Ramiro García, Eugenia Butler (feat. Eve Aschheim, Rod Baer, Elizabeth Grier, Julia Lohman, John O’Brien), JW Caldwell, Carole Caroompas, Adriana Chavez, Michael Childers, Caralea Cole, Justin Favela, Ben Denzer, Ashley Hairston Doughty, Dan Hernandez, Jean Giguet, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Darren Johnson, Danielle Kelly, Lel Kihm, Candice Lin, Mary Corey March, Jung Min, Jerry Misko, Lucian Octavius Pompili, Krystal Ramirez, Mandolyn Wilson Rosen, Ed Ruscha, Andrew Schoultz, Sean Slattery, Laurens Tan, Geovany Uranda, and others. It was organized with help from UNLV Special Collections and Archives. Special thanks to Su Kim Chung, the head of Special Collections Public Services, and Aaron Mayes, the Curator for Visual Materials.
Am I Your Type will be on view at the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art at UNLV from March 14 to July 8. An opening reception will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m on March 24. Entry to the Museum is free. Masks are recommended.