This fall, the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, encourages everyone to consider the bonds between us with Come Together, Right Now: The Art of Gathering. On view Oct. 11, 2020–Jan. 3, 2021 at the museum and in outdoor locations in Norfolk, the exhibition will feature more than 100 artworks drawn from the Chrysler’s collection and digital photography submitted by community members. Visitors will see many works that are rarely on view and masterpieces from all areas of the collection, including photography, painting, sculpture and installation works. Four themes—Together in Celebration, Together in Purpose, Together in Justice, and Together in Love—will highlight the many ways artists examine the joys and complexities of “coming together” and showcase how communities are linked by activities, celebrations, demonstrations, love and family.
“As many have faced unprecedented isolation this year and grappled with social distancing, we believe the time is perfect to celebrate the most powerful things that draw us together. Images of love, dancing, making music and working together will lift visitors’ spirits and inspire them to reflect,” said Lloyd DeWitt, Ph.D., the Chrysler Museum’s Chief Curator and Irene Leache Curator of European Art.
Come Together, Right Now was conceived in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when people grappled with the new restrictions spawned by social distancing while also uniting in a struggle to control the devastating disease. The public killings of Black and brown people intensified the sense of separation and division and the need to create community as we address uncomfortable but necessary questions about racism and intolerance and chart the course toward an inclusive future. Artwork reminds us of the value of community and prompts us to consider creative solutions to the impediments we face as we work to come together. It also helps us to discover all that we can learn right now from self-examination and each other through our common experiences, causes, celebrations and struggles.
“Curating this exhibition was a cross-departmental effort. As we organized this show, we conferred with the entire Chrysler team. Staff from all areas of the Museum considered the themes that bring us together and offered insight into the works from the collection that best celebrate the ways in which we come together,” said Museum Director Erik Neil.
Together in Celebration includes images of dancing, sports, parties and picnics that demonstrate how times of ease, play and celebration draw us together. A Mayan ceramic work showing a ball game, contemporary photographs by Tseng Kwong Chi and Preston Gannaway’s Baptism, and historical works by Oskar Kokoschka and Anthonie Palamedesz and others display how we share life’s greatest triumphs and draw together in solidarity around our most profound beliefs and highest ideals.
Together in Purpose features images of people bound together in common cause, occupation or campaign. The works highlight purpose in a wide range of art, including photographs of Soviet women harvesting grain, rulers like the Roman Emperor Nero projecting power, James Tissot’s masterpiece of artists celebrating the opening of the annual French Salon and Norfolk artist Maizelle’s woven rug paying tribute to ancestors.
Together in Justice features historical material and highlights the Chrysler Museum’s tremendous holdings of photography from the Civil Rights Movement that brought people together in protest, solidarity and support.
Together in Love examines affection, attachment and passion as the most intense and positive motivations for coming together. Love takes the form of friendship, as Robert Mapplethorpe bore witness in his lifelong friendship with musician Patti Smith, while Elizaeth Boott commemorates her deceased lover in a memoria still life. The artwork in this section will present loving relationships of all kinds and express the boundless, wonderful power of love to draw us together, heal and restore.
Some Norfolk neighborhoods will become living art galleries with Come Together, Right Now OUTSIDE. The Chrysler will reproduce several artworks from the exhibition and display them outside with questions that encourage viewers to consider the artwork further, discuss the theme and reflect. The outdoor displays will also ensure those who have reservations about gathering indoors still have access to the Museum’s collection.