Sometimes when you first talk to some one about contemporary art, their eyes glaze over,” says BYU Museum of Art (MOA) curator Jeff C. Lambson (BA ’00, MA ’06). But the museum—in putting together Utah’s biggest showing of contemporary art to date—is building a trio of exhibitions around some accessible but thought-provoking themes, starting with video games.
Yes, Pac-Man and other ’80s video games inspired the 10 larger-than-life steel sculptures that make up Michael A. Whiting’s (BFA ’00) exhibition 8-Bit Modern. Whiting has set his pixelated duck, buck, and other critters free in the MOA gardens, while his person, Blockhead, stands in line at the MOA Café.
Two floors down is Think Flat: The Art of Andy Warhol and Takashi Murakami: Selections from the Freedman Family Collection and the BYU MOA, pairing two artists with a knack for turning mass culture into high art. The exhibition features Warhol’s iconic Campbell’s Soup Cans alongside the works of Japanese artist Murakami, who embeds jellyfish eyeballs into famous designer Louis Vuitton’s trademark purse pattern.
The third exhibition combines national and international artists’ explorations of the struggle of good vs. evil. Amid bigfoot, Captain America, and a 20-foot blue alien, We Could Be Heroes: The Mythology of Monsters and Heroes in Contemporary Art takes on the 21st century’s hero worship.
With everything from monsters to soup cans to video game creatures, “contemporary art has the power to appeal to anyone who stops to look and consider,” says Lambson.
The Think Flat exhibition is on display through Feb. 18; 8-Bit Modern through March 23; and We Could Be Heroes through April 6.
— Mindy A. Leavitt (’13)