Cullen Washington Jr.’s work offers meditations on human interconnectivity and “the universal framework that undergirds all things.” Fusing seemingly disparate concepts via the connective tissues of mixed media, Washington uses nonrepresentational abstraction to understand order, chaos, social relationships, and other natural phenomena. The work takes audiences on a vibrant journey through and with materiality — a concerted and haptic interplay between gestures of painting and drawing and the modes of reproduction. In the exhibition Cullen Washington Jr.: The Public Square,his most recent series, Agoras, explores the “agora” — the ancient Greek public space — as a central “gathering place” for activated assembly that functions as the heart of the commercial, spiritual, and political life in the city, where the displaced can find a place. Washington’s work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and has been exhibited at the Queens Museum in New York, the Saatchi Gallery in London, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. He has been an artist in residence at Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture in Maine, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Yaddo artists’ community in New York, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation. He has also received a Joan Mitchell Foundation Award.
Presented in partnership with UMMA as part of the 2020 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium. Cullen Washington Jr.: The Public Square will be on view at UMMA January 25 – May 17, 2020. Lead support for the UMMA exhibition Cullen Washington Jr.: The Public Square is provided by the University of Michigan Office of the Provost, Michigan Medicine, and the Institute for the Humanities. Additional generous support is provided by the Department of the History of Art.