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August 25, 2009

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Contemporary art exhibition at the Harn Museum explores artists as witnesses

GAINESVILLE, Fla. —Opening Aug. 25 at the Harn Museum of Art, Art, Media and Material Witness: Contemporary Art from the Harn Museum Collection views historical events through the perspectives of artists. The exhibition features works by 25 contemporary artists from the United States, Latin America and Africa.

The exhibition proposes the artist as a material witness, defined as “a witness whose testimony is both relevant to the matter at issue and required in order to resolve the matter.” Questions that emerge include the significance of art in society’s discourse, whether art is essential and whether art can change the way we imagine our world.

Exploring the relationship between artists and the historical, political and social challenges of their time, the works challenge circumstances through irony and humor. They also question and reflect on historical representations of culture and identity.

“This exhibition brings together an exciting mix of artists, including painters, photographers, sculptors and filmmakers,” said Kerry Oliver-Smith, curator of contemporary art. “Each work provokes challenging questions and reflection regarding the role of art in society.”

Art, Media and Material Witness features several new acquisitions and important loans to the museum. Artists in the exhibition include African artists El Anatsui, William Kentridge and Magdalene Odundo, and American artists include Kehinde Wiley, Cindy Sherman and Eric Fischl. The exhibition showcases a growing collection of Latin American artists, including Los Carpinteros, Carlos Garaicoa and Roberto Matta. Night Shift, a film by Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler, is featured through Jan. 6, 2010.

Harn Museum visitors may learn about the works at a gallery talk given by Oliver-Smith at 3 p.m. Sept. 27. After a film screening for the 5th Annual Gainesville Latino Film Festival at 2 p.m. Sept. 19, Oliver-Smith will give a gallery talk focusing on works by Latin American artists. Additionally, docents will give an exhibition spotlight tour of the exhibition at 2 p.m. Oct. 4.

The exhibition is made possible by the 150th Anniversary Cultural Plaza Endowment. It will be on display through Aug. 1, 2010.

Admission to the Harn Museum of Art is free. For more information, visit or call 352-392-9826.

High-resolution images of works in the exhibition are available at

Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art
The Harn Museum of Art is an integral part of the University of Florida. The museum’s permanent collection holds nearly 7,000 works, including African, Asian, modern and contemporary art and photography. The museum enhances the university’s activities and serves a culturally diverse audience through the exhibition of works of art and educational programming. Admission is free. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Parking is free on weekends. The Camellia Court Café is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Harn Museum of Art is located at Southwest 34th Street and Hull Road at the UF Cultural Plaza. For more information call 352-392-9826 or visit

Media contact :
Tami Wroath, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Harn Museum of Art
352.392.9826 x116

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