Press release: Saint Louis Art Museum will present ‘Currents 111: Steven and William Ladd’

By | September 29, 2015

ST. LOUIS, Sept. 29, 2015The Saint Louis Art Museum next month will present Currents 111: Steven and William Ladd, an exhibition of new works referencing shared memories of the artists’ childhood in St. Louis. The free exhibition opens on Oct. 23.

Brothers Steven and William Ladd grew up in St. Louis, and their complex, richly crafted work references events and experiences from their childhood home, grade school, and high school. Bearing the subtitle Scouts or Sports?, this exhibition will present a group of ambitious, new works that recall two of the artists’ childhood extracurricular activities—Cub Scouts and sports—while addressing the emotional and psychological significance of these activities on the brothers’ home life.

The brothers bring out the inherent quality of materials like handmade paper and blown glass, which are featured throughout Currents 111. The exhibition will include a series of paper landscapes colored with pigment and decorated with beads, pins and trinkets. Six of these landscapes explore the Ladds’ relationship to grade school sports and six focus on scouting experiences.

The bright red of Cardinal Nation is, of course, a reference to the baseball team that the brothers idolized. In another new sculpture, Dad-n-Lad, box lids with grids of miniature paper camping tents can be lifted to reveal landscapes made of layers of paper pulp and glass beads punctuated with chasms that reference Missouri’s cavernous topography, which the brothers explored on Scout outings.

As an educational and community engagement initiative relating to the exhibition, the Ladds will conduct what they call a “Scrollathon.” Local students will learn how the artists work as creative collaborators and will be invited to make fabric scrolls, which the Ladds originated as a way to recycle materials in their studio. The students’ scrolls will be combined to create an artwork.

Steven and William Ladd have been featured in solo exhibitions at the Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, NY (2014–15) and the Mingei International Museum, San Diego (2014). They have also participated in group exhibitions at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York (2014) and the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY (2012–13).

The exhibition opens on Oct. 23 in Gallery 250 with interventions in the Alexandria and Charleston period rooms. Currents 111 runs through Feb. 14, 2016 and is curated by Simon Kelly, curator of modern and contemporary art, with Molly Moog, research assistant.

CONTACT: Matthew Hathaway, 314.655.5493, matthew.hathaway@slam.org.