Artist Yinka Shonibare honored at Anderson Ranch’s annual Recognition Week
Conceptual artist to receive International Artist award
For Yinka Shonibare, Anderson Ranch Arts Center’s 2022 International Artist Honoree, art is personal as well as historical.
“Primarily, of course, I make work about my own history, my own background,” Shonibare said in a Zoom interview in late June. The conceptual artist was born in London, grew up in Nigeria, studied art back in London at Byam Shaw School of Hart and Goldsmiths College, where he received his master’s degree in fine art.
“I have an understanding of both Africa and Europe, and also the historical relationship between Britain and Africa, … particularly between Britain and Nigeria, and so my work does kind of deal with those issues,” Shonibare said.
About those issues: The artist’s work delves into “colonialism and post-colonialism within the context of globalisation,” surveys “race, class and the construction of cultural identity,” comments “on the tangled interrelationship between Africa and Europe and their respective economic and political histories,” according to a provided artist biography.
Shonibare will receive the International Artist award on July 14 at a Recognition Dinner gala, a hallmark event of Anderson Ranch’s annual Recognition Week (July 11-16) on the arts campus in Snowmass Village. Tickets range from $1,000 for a cocktail hour and $2,500 for an individual seat to $40,000 for a VIP table joined by Shonibare. (Only one of those experiences was available and has sold out.)
The artist also will present a free artist talk the day prior (July 13 at 12:30 p.m.) in conversation with Belinda Holden, who helms the Yinka Shonibare Foundation in the U.K. and Guest Artists Space Foundation in Nigeria, and Douglas Fogle, the curator-in-residence for Anderson Ranch. That event is free and open to the public in person with a virtual option; advance registration is required.
Shonibare joins a roster of creative luminaries like Simone Leigh, Nick Cave and Ai Weiwei on the list of Anderson Ranch International Artist Honorees. He has been nominated for the Turner Prize and awarded the decoration of member — then, in 2019, commander — of the “Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.”
The artists’ 2008 mid-career survey began at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney and toured to the Brooklyn Museum in New York and the Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. And in 2010, his first public art commission, “Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle” went on display on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London.
His practice is interdisciplinary in medium as well as theme.
“Work does evolve over time, and so I’ve gone from making paintings to video, sculpture and public sculpture, so the work has certainly expanded,” Shonibare said.
The artist also uses batik textiles — “which everyone always imagines that the fabric is actually from, originally from Africa, but actually, it’s Indonesian-inspired fabric produced by the Dutch and then sold in West Africa,” Shonibare said.
“I find those relationships kind of fascinating,” he added. “So I’ve developed … a number of works using that historical relationship as a starting point.”
Shonibare finds the present of that relationship compelling too: “There’s the obvious kind of colonial relationship, which by any means wasn’t equal (then), and also the legacy of that in today’s in a multicultural Britain,” he said.
There are themes, too, that connect to the United States, like “the history of African Americans in America,” Shonibare said. Viewers may bring their own experiences and interpretations to his works as well.
“I give people the information, but I don’t think there’s one way of reading a work of art or engaging with a work of art,” Shonibare said. “I think people take from a work what they want to take from it.”
In addition to the big-ticket Recognition Dinner and free Summer Series talk with Shonibare, Recognition Week programming will feature a slate of art-making and art appreciation offerings open to the public.
On Monday, a “Critical Dialog” program featuring curator Anna Katz and artists Marilyn Minter and John M. Valadez will explore “What’s So Real About Photo Realism?” The workshop runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes lectures and discussion; registration is $500.
Mini art-making workshops will be offered Tuesday morning and afternoon and Wednesday morning, with sessions that explore mediums like ceramics, printmaking, photography, woodworking and painting. Space is limited but waitlists are available; each session costs $150.
An online auction is now live, with bidding open through July 14 at 7 p.m. during the Gala Dinner auction. The online auction features works by artists like Oscar Murillo, Derrick Adams, Maya Lin; many of the pieces are on display on the Anderson Ranch campus in the Patton-Malott Gallery through July 14.
Eager bidders can also participate in an auction on July 16 at the Ranch’s annual Art Auction and Community Picnic, which runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event usually takes place the first week of August but this year is scheduled at the conclusion of Recognition Week; this will be the first picnic since the summer of 2019 following a two-year COVID-19 pandemic hiatus.
Registration is free and required for the picnic and auction. Participants can choose to purchase a $15 wristband for all-you-can-eat food and $5 drink tickets for beer, wine and sangria; free popcorn, cotton candy and snow cones will be available to all.
For more information on all Anderson Ranch Recognition Week programming, visit bit.ly/3PwilCb.
The annual Sardy House Christmas tree lighting was held on a snowy Sunday, Dec. 3. Locals and visitors alike drank hot chocolate and ate cookies as they awaited the holiday tradition.