The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens will present a new permanent collections installation this fall. The new installation aims to explore a more expansive and contextualized view of American art history.
“Borderlands” opens Nov. 20, 2021, in a suite of rooms in the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art. The Huntington partnered with two contemporary artists, Enrique Martínez Celaya and Sandy Rodriguez, and secured loans to help re-imagine the historical collections from multiple perspectives.
The exhibition is a reinstallation of portions of The Huntington’s American art collection that date from the 19th through the early 20th century. This includes works by renowned artists such as Mary Cassatt, Frederic Edwin Church, Thomas Eakins, and Winslow Homer. However, “Borderlands” will be organized thematically. It also will feature an education room, where visitors can learn about locally sourced botanical-and mineral-based pigments.
“The Huntington has a responsibility to convey the relevance of historical collections to contemporary audiences and to consider our shared past from multiple perspectives, as we begin to create a vision for the future,” said Christina Nielsen, Hannah and Russel Kully director of the Art Museum at The Huntington. “‘Borderlands’ addresses these goals by presenting a more expansive history of American art in a beautiful and thought-provoking installation—from the re-imagined entrance area through a freshly conceived group of galleries, where objects will interact with one another in new ways, drawing connections across media, time, and cultures.”
“Borderlands” will occupy roughly 5,000 square feet of gallery space, highlighting more than 70 works, including paintings, sculptures, decorative art objects, and video installations.
“To envision the arts in America in terms of the ‘borderlands’ metaphor, we looked at how artworks have registered the crossing of geographic, political, social, linguistic, and personal boundaries,” said Dennis Carr, Virginia Steele Scott chief curator of American art at The Huntington, who leads the project. “The history of the United States has been shaped by innumerable borders, whose endurance or dissolution continue to impact us today.”
A thematic anchor in the exhibition will be a new 8-foot-by-8-foot watercolor painted by Los Angeles–based artist Sandy Rodriguez. For the work, Rodriguez is using locally sourced pigments and colorants, derived from mineral and organic sources, and 23-karat gold applied to amate paper. Rodriguez’s “YOU ARE HERE / Tovaangar / El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula / Los Angeles” will be a multilingual map of the greater Los Angeles area, representing the topography, language, flora, fauna, and land stewardship in the region over time and illustrating the movement and histories of peoples who have called the area home. A new video on Rodriguez’s work can be viewed at huntington.org/videos-recorded-programs.
“Like Sandy’s work, we hope ‘Borderlands’ will inspire visitors to consider the relationship between art and land with respect to artistic materials, the movement of artists and objects, and how depictions of the landscape can express and affect our relation to it—and to each other,” Carr said.
Huntington visitors will get their first glimpse of “Borderlands” from hundreds of feet away. Enrique Martínez Celaya’s “There-Bound” will be painted on the massive glass façade of the Scott Galleries’ north entrance, drawing the eye from across the lawn. It aims to depict various kinds of migratory birds winging across the building’s front windows.
More information on the reinstallation can be found at huntington.org/news/borderlands-reinstallation.