From January 26 to March 11, 2018, Logan Center Exhibitions will present Mike Cloud: The Myth of Education, in which a suite of new works by the critically-acclaimed Brooklyn-based artist Mike Cloud will be on view. The Myth of Education marks Cloud's first solo exhibition in Chicago, a city to which he has deep ties, and the artist's first major solo institutional exhibition in nearly a decade. For the show, Cloud has created large-scale, three-dimensional paintings, newspaper collages, handmade collage quilts and paper vessels to form an impressive Gesamtkunstwerk (“total art work”).
“Mike Cloud’s works are highly charged objects not only with respect to the artist’s virtuoso use of geometry, gesture and color but also with regard to the sentiments they evoke, which range from humor, tragedy and fervor, to deference and hope,” said Yesomi Umolu, Exhibitions Curator. “In our current moment, when we are all grappling with the symbolism embedded in our politics, monuments, institutions, and cultural artifacts, Cloud’s work demonstrates the indiscriminate ways in which meaning is made and unmade in the world.”
Born in Chicago in 1974, Cloud earned his training as an arts educator at the University of Illinois at Chicago and an MFA from Yale University School of Art. He moved on to pursue his career in New York. Cloud has evolved a unique painterly language that challenges notions of abstraction and often comprises a mash-up of cutout photographs, thick paint and patchworks of collaged material. Cloud sees paintings as objects within a system of objects, and describes his own paintings as a "kind of microcosmic system of objects (toys, mazes, symbols and painting materials), which although familiar within their own contexts, might combine into an overarching system of familiarities that create a kind of transparency of their own." Using imagery culled from photo books, newspapers and other ephemera of daily life, his works explore the expansive world of semiotics and the multiple cultural meanings embedded in familiar signs and symbols of our time.
In The Myth of Education, Cloud foregrounds his use of collage as a tool to explore surface, pattern, composition and meaning. Furthermore, the exhibition teases out the artist’s sculptural treatment of the picture plane. Sitting on the floor and leaning against the walls, his massive geometric abstractions break the conventional relationship between a painting and the wall. The negative spaces between these objects are densely filled with a selection of newspaper collages while a series of freestanding quilts hang in the gallery to articulate distinct yet surprising spaces and sightlines.
Accompanying the exhibition is a series of public programs, conceived in close collaboration with the artist, that explore the mythmaking capacity of art through three distinct vectors: storytelling and the myth of education; the myth of the “other” in art discourse; and the myth of quality in art criticism. These programs invite local and national interlocutors into conversation with Cloud, including artist Oscar Murillo, writer and curator Taylor Aldridge and writer and editor Alexander Provan to connect the themes and motivations of the artist’s work to broader art historical narratives and contemporary discourses.
Mike Cloud: The Myth of Education is presented by Logan Center Exhibitions and curated by Yesomi Umolu, Exhibitions Curator. Support for this exhibition is provided by Harpo Foundation. For more details about the exhibition or other Logan Center Exhibitions programming, visit logancenterexhibitions.uchicago.edu.
Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts
Mike Cloud, Paper Elysium, 2014. Courtesy the artist and Thomas Erben Gallery, New York.