Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers Traces a Decade of Rachel Perry Welty's Art

December 12, 2011

New Brunswick, NJ — Two years ago, the artist Rachel Perry Welty famously transformed Facebook into a performance space by updating her status every minute of her waking day while continuing her normal activities.  The obsessive, repetitive, and process-based character of her artistic output so evident in Rachel Is (2009) animate this mid-career survey entitled Rachel Perry Welty 24/7, opening Saturday, January 28, 2012 at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. (Through July 15, 2012).

“Rachel Perry Welty takes daily life as her subject,” says Suzanne Delehanty, director of the Zimmerli.  “These works raise questions about how we live today, whether it be to comment on the effects of consumerism, suburban living, and information overload or to point to the underlying anxiety at the heart of American popular culture.”

24/7 features 25 works created over the course of the last decade, from documentation of performance and social media projects, photographs, drawings, installations made with fruit stickers and twist ties, sculptures, and collages. One process-based work on view, Deaccession Project, began in 2005 when Welty started to discard, recycle, give away, or sell a single object every day, while documenting the disposal of each item with a photograph and notations describing the date, description, reason for deaccession, and ultimate destination of the object.  At the Zimmerli, visitors will see more than two thousand documented deaccession pages arranged in a chronological grid.  Welty will continue adding to the project with daily updates as the project evolves during the exhibition period.

Notes Donna Gustafson, Andrew W. Mellon Liaison for Academic Programs and Curator, and organizer of the exhibition at the Zimmerli, “Welty draws attention to the constant din that surrounds us, using humor to address narcissism and social media, the fleeting nature of experience, the elusiveness of desire, and the persistence of objects in a throw away culture. She reclaims objects that would otherwise be ignored, lost, or discarded and transforms them.”  A centerpiece of the exhibition is, in fact, a pair of large-scale wall installations, one comprised of thousands of colorful supermarket twist ties and the other, fruit stickers.

In Welty’s hand, even the likes of spam emails and misdialed voice messages become the stuff of art, whether it be in a sculpture of the phrase ‘what do you really want,’ rendered in crinkled aluminum foil and cursive lettering, or in the video Karaoke Wrong Number (2005-2009), for which Welty gathered the voice messages on her telephone answering machine not intended for her family, spliced them together, and then videotaped herself lip-synching to each recording, acting the part of each character.

Welty’s passionate desire to decode the ‘business of living’ today will also be seen in a series of large-scale color photographs, entitled Lost in My Life (2009-10), in which Welty’s figure appears surrounded by hundreds, perhaps thousands, of meticulously aligned and brightly colored packaged food boxes, price tags, take out food containers, and other prosaic items taken for granted in everyday life.

Rachel Perry Welty 24/7 was co-organized by Nick Capasso, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts, and Lexi Lee Sullivan, Koch Curatorial Fellow.  The exhibition debuted at the deCordova in January of 2011. At the DeCordova major funding was provided by James and Audrey Foster, The Goldhirsh Foundation, a grant from the Artists’ Resource Trust, Katherine Kirk and Malcolm Gefter, and Barbara and Jonathan Lee.

The exhibition is accompanied by a spiral-bound, handbook-sized volume of the same title, designed by the artist in collaboration with graphic designer Anita Meyer.  Part comprehensive catalogue, part artist’s book, the first two pages of 24/7 mimic colorblindness tests, inviting the reader to distinguish patterns within colors and look more deeply at the world.

The presentation at the Zimmerli is organized by Donna Gustafson, Andrew W. Mellon Liaison for Academic Programs and Curator and Kate Scott, Zimmerli Fellow and Ph.D. Candidate in  the Department of Art History, Rutgers University.

This exhibition and related programs at the Zimmerli are made possible in part by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation with support from an endowment established by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and donors to the Zimmerli’s Annual Exhibition Fund: Benefactor/Estate of Donald L. Mahan; Sustainer/Voorhees Family Endowment; Supporter/Jerome A. Yavitz Charitable Foundation, Inc. –Stephen Cypen, President.

Public Programs

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 / 6:30 pm

ART AFTER HOURS: Artist/Curator dialogue

Rachel Perry Welty and curator Donna Gustafson discuss the artist’s process and work. Free to Rutgers students, faculty and staff and museum members.  Others free with museum admission.

Selected Sundays from February to May 2012 / 2:00 pm


Given by the Zimmerli’s newly minted student guides.  Meet Rutgers undergraduate guides in the lobby for informal and informative tours of the exhibition.

Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers

The Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers, founded in 1966, is one of the largest university art museums in United States. The Zimmerli’s permanent collection comprises more than 60,000 works, ranging from ancient to contemporary art and featuring particularly rich holdings in the areas of French art of the 19th century, Russian and Soviet Nonconformist Art, and American and European works on paper, including prints, drawings, photographs, and rare books.

The Zimmerli is midway between New York City and Philadelphia and a short walk from the New Jersey Transit station in New Brunswick.

Location and Hours

The Zimmerli Art Museum is located at 71 Hamilton Street at the corner of George Street on the College Avenue campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 am to 4:30 pm, and Saturday-Sunday, noon to 5 pm; first Wednesdays of each month September through July, 10 am to 9 pm. Admission is $6 for adults; $5 for adults over 65, and free for museum members, Rutgers students, faculty and staff (with ID), and children under 18. Admission is free on the first Sunday of every month. For more information, call 732.932.7237, ext. 610 or visit the museum’s website: www.zimmerlimuseum.rutgers.edu


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