Works by some of the country’s most influential contemporary artists on view in Strange Weather

Kehinde Wiley, Marechal Floriano Peixoto II
Collection of the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation
Image: Aaron Wessling Photography

A new group exhibition presented by UC Santa Cruz Institute of the Arts and Sciences (IAS) and the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH), features contemporary artworks by some of today’s leading artists, from Kehinde Wiley to Hung Liu, drawn from one of the most important post-war and contemporary art collections in the country. 

On view April 14-August 14, 2022 at the MAH, Strange Weather: From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation is co-organized by IAS director Dr. Rachel Nelson and UCSC History of Art and Visual Culture Professor Jennifer González and explores the relationships and boundaries between bodies and the environment.  

“For Strange Weather, we selected artworks from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation with climate change weighing heavily on our minds,” Dr. Nelson explains. “While this is certainly not a didactic exhibition, living through wildfires and drought motivated us to explore the impressive collections of over 19,000 objects for the different aesthetic approaches artists use to illuminate the histories, experiences, and socio-political contexts that lead to this moment.” 

The artworks on view span five decades, from 1970-2020, and are drawn together for how they creatively call attention to the impact and history of forced migrations, industrialization, global capitalism, and trauma on humans and the contemporary landscape.

Julie Mehretu’s three prints, created as a response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, render abstract an intricate cartography of a rapidly changing climate. Kehinde Wiley’s large-scale painting, Marechal Floriano Peixoto II, 2009 monumentalizes issues of identity and nature. Wendy Red Star's photographic series, “Four Seasons,” links weather patterns to the consumption and commodification of Native American culture. 

The exhibition also includes work by such luminaries as Lorna Simpson, Edgar Heap of Birds, Carlos Amorales, Kiki Smith, Leonardo Drew, Joe Feddersen, Alison Saar, and others.

“It has been such a pleasure to work with my colleague Rachel Nelson in selecting works by some extraordinary contemporary artists,” says Prof. González. “We are delighted to collaborate with the MAH to bring these works to our students and the Santa Cruz public. The exhibition provides a glimpse of the richness of contemporary art and its capacity to enliven both our understanding of human history and the critical questions facing us.”

Jordan D. Schnitzer has made it a priority for his collection to be available for education, supporting numerous art museums at universities in Oregon and Washington and making his collection available for other museums and universities to borrow. He and his staff have facilitated more than 180 exhibitions at 160 museums. 
“I have often said, artists are chroniclers of our time,” says Schnitzer. “This exhibition by many of the most important artists of our time references that statement. The voice of art has the power to inspire us! While we are challenged by the themes in this exhibition, it is an exhibition of hope.”

Concurrent with Strange Weather, the Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery at UCSC will feature a capsule exhibition of works by artist Glenn Ligon from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation. The capsule exhibition highlights Ligon’s influential works exploring how constructions of blackness in the U.S. infuse popular culture, literature, and history, from slave narratives to children’s coloring books. 

For more information, visit the IAS exhibition page. Admission is free to the MAH for UCSC students, staff, and faculty.

Several programs are planned in conjunction with the exhibition including an in person conversation between participating artist Leonardo Drew and Jordan D. Schnitzer on April 21; a UCSC Alumni Reception on April 22; and an online talk with participating artist Edgar Heap of Birds on May 10.