In April 2019, the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art (NEHMA) at Utah State University will open a large-scale installation titled Double Cross, created in 1990 by the artist George Stone.
Director of the 2019 Venice Biennale, Ralph Rugoff, calls Double Cross “…a haunting two-room installation that is at once theatrical and conceptually driven.” Rugoff notes that the artwork makes reference to debates that were ongoing when the installation was created.
“In the spring of 1990, U.S. Congress—sparked by pressure from conservative religious groups—was considering adding moral guidelines to the funding parameters used by the National Endowment for the Arts,” Rugoff writes. “Double Cross obliquely but powerfully evokes this potential betrayal of art’s ‘free space for thinking,’ as the artist himself describes it.”
In the first room of Double Cross, viewers find a 14 x 14-foot glass case in the shape of a cross. The cross-shaped vitrine holds rows of blank books, their pages blown by small fans. The second room is partitioned into a cross shape. In the darkened room, moving spotlights highlight words written on the wall, creating phrases seemingly at random.
“Among the most significant works of art of the 20th century are pieces whose content has been predicated on specific political and social events,” said Bolton Colburn, curator of Collections and Exhibitions at NEHMA. “Double Cross comments on a time when America saw the erosion of government support for the arts and a dramatic political swing to the right.”
Double Cross is the final piece to go on view as part of the multi-part Collecting on the Edge exhibition. The installation has been exhibited at several other museums in the past 30 years, including Laguna Art Museum, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery. Although part of the NEHMA collection since 2004, this will be the first time Double Cross has been exhibited at the museum.
“This is an exciting time at NEHMA,” Colburn said. “Significant works from the collection are being introduced to the public here for the first time. In an academic setting like USU, one that encourages meaningful dialogue on topical issues, NEHMA can exhibit important yet difficult works like Double Cross.”
The artwork will open to the public Friday, April 12, at 7 p.m. The reception will be free and open to the public and refreshments will be served.
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