In January, rising star Eric N. Mack, a textile artist and painter, will have his first solo museum show in New York City at the Brooklyn Museum, where his site-responsive installations will be hung, mounted, and draped around the historic great hall.
The museum’s recent exhibition “Soul of a Nation,” which focused on work created between 1963 to 1983 by African-American artists, was the starting point for the show, Brooklyn Museum curator Ashley James told artnet News. “When I was thinking about contemporary artists that are engaged with this type of work, Eric immediately came to mind as someone who was really drawing on this rich art historical legacy and lineage but also doing something really fresh,” she said, citing artist Sam Gilliam and the Washington Color School as an important influence on Mack.
Gilliam’s influence can be felt in Mack’s habit of integrating everyday influences into his paintings, and in their shared penchant for staining and drapery.
“Gilliam has said that one of his influences for his drape paintings was the clothesline outside of his apartment,” James said. “It plays on the idea of occupying a more mundane space, and I think that Eric really runs with this and makes it is own.”
In an interview with artnet News last March, ahead of his solo show at the Albright Knox Gallery in Buffalo, New York, Mack said, “I think everything I bring in comes back to the aesthetics of painting. But because my work reaches so far outside of painting, and often grounds itself in sculpture or architecture, I also think you’re able to see painting in its most dynamic state.”
For the Brooklyn Museum show, which is part of a concerted effort to showcase more young and emerging artists at the institution, Mack’s will have a particular architectural challenge in working within the museum’s great hall.
“It’s not that it’s an unconventional space, but it’s a very specific space architecturally,” James said. “It’s different than a gallery show. It has really dynamic possibilities that will really require him to think about visitor engagement in a way he hasn’t done before.”
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