Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Malcolm X Steles

When: Feb. 12-April 27 2014

In 1973, Barbara Chase-Riboud debuted her work on the West Coast with a solo exhibition at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. Among the displayed works was “Confessions for Myself,” a magnificent lost wax sculpture made of black bronze, which folds in on itself with bold texture at the top, then flows into a skirt of thick, hand-corded ropes that are knotted and braided together like a twisting, tangled narrative. Now the piece is on view at BAM/PFA once again, along with more of Chase-Riboud’s dazzling sculptures and intimate drawings, in the show Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Malcolm X Steles. The prolific Philadelphia-born visual artist and author is concerned with memory and how our personal remembering gets mixed up with history. Her steles are unconventional commemorations of Malcolm X — gleaming, monolithic abstractions that simultaneously evoke the solidity of the natural world and the romantic ephemerality of everyday life. As one of Chase-Riboud’s first solo museum shows in more than a decade, this exhibition is a rare opportunity to see the visually manifested memories of a woman with an exceptional history of her own.

Sarah Burke

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