One of the most compelling contemporary artists working today, Leslie Hewitt (b. 1977) challenges traditional notions of photography and sculpture by thoughtfully integrating the two mediums. Exploring impermanence, the passage of time, and the ways photography shapes personal experiences and the collective understanding of history, this installation presents two significant and recent acquisitions of work by Hewitt. They were created following the artist’s study of the archive of images related to the Civil Rights Movement in the Menil Collection and based on the artist’s desire to “approach the question of invisibility” in American history and “explore the gaps and silences in the archive.”
Where Paths Meet, Turn Away, Then Align Again, 2012, are large geometric sculptures made with bent plate steel placed directly on the floor. The various configurations of thin painted white steel resembles folded pieces of paper. Stark and empty, they reference the silence of unrecorded history. The sculpture is paired with the diptych, Where Paths Meet, Turn Away, Then Align Again (Distilled moment from over 72 hours of viewing the civil rights era archive at the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas), 2012. The two cropped close up images are sourced from a Dan Budnik photograph in the Menil Collection of the fifth day of the Selma to Montgomery March, a series of civil rights marches for voting rights that took place in Alabama in March 1965. Using a micro lens, Hewitt records a cropped fragment of the photograph, the back of a woman’s head. Magnified and slightly blurry, the isolated images amplify a seemingly inconsequential detail, emphasizing the personal, quiet or forgotten moments that are often lost in history.
Major Funding for the Contemporary Focus series is provided by Cecily E. Horton.