Muskegon Museum of Art Exhibits Look at the Influence of Cotton

Caint to Caint II by Winfred Rembert
Caint to Caint II by Winfred Rembert

Cotton has influenced the United States possibly more than any other crop. Its influence can be seen in the country’s history, economics and the environment.

Two new exhibits, “Sarah Wagner: Vegetable Lamb of America” and “Southern Roots: The Paintings of Winfred Rembert,” opening on Thursday, Dec. 14 at the Muskegon Museum of Art, explore the crop’s influence.

To celebrate the opening, a reception is also being held Thursday. Wagner will give a talk about her work that night. The reception runs from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Wagner’s talk will begin at 7 p.m. The reception is free and the public is invited to attend.

A second reception is planned for Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 in honor of Rembert. MMA will present a screening of the documentary about Rembert’s life, “All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert.” The reception will start at 5:30 p.m. and the film will start at 7 p.m. The film’s director Vivian Ducat, of Ducat Media, and Rembert will both attend and participate in a Q & A following the film.

Rembert has a lot of stories to tell, from his childhood on a cotton farm to his near lynching during the Civil Rights Movement; his life experiences are the bed of work that inspires his artwork. This film documents Rembert’s life and how his tooled leather artwork has become his biography and therapy.

Sarah Wagner discusses her work at the MMA on Thursday, Dec. 14
Sarah Wagner discusses her work at the MMA on Thursday, Dec. 14

“Sarah Wagner: Vegetable Lamb of America”

Sarah Wagner sculpts in wood, metal and fabric, creating animals and environments that address the fragility and resilience of nature and humanity’s impact on its surroundings. Her art is inspired and informed by the city of Detroit, where she lives and works.

For her MMA exhibition, Wagner is creating a new installation inspired by the history of the cultivation of cotton, and its impact on the development of capitalism and industrialism around the world.

Winfred Rembert participates in a Q&A about his work in February.
Winfred Rembert participates in a Q&A about his work in February.

“Southern Roots: The Paintings of Winfred Rembert”

Winfred Rembert works in the medium of carved and dyed leather, creating vibrant and rhythmic imagery of his life in 1950s Georgia. A storyteller, Rembert reveals images of culture, community, family, and struggle through intense color and repeating patterns.

His most recognizable pieces depict pickers at work in the cotton fields, a grueling task the artist himself experienced in his childhood and later on a prison chain gang. Over 25 works, including the premiere of several recent paintings by the artist, are featured in the exhibition.

*Photos courtesy of the Muskegon Museum of Art

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