Gray Matters

12:00 am


May 20, 2017–July 30, 2017

“Dizzying and thrilling, demonstrating the complexity of female consciousness.”

—Sarah Rose Sharp, Delicious Line


This spring, see the vibrant world between black and white. Join us for Gray Matters, a multifaceted survey of 37 contemporary women artists who have explored the practice of grisaille—the French term for working in shades of gray. Ranging from emerging to well-established, these artists challenge an all-too-simplistic notion of colorless “neutrality” as they reveal the variegated spectrum of black, white, gray, and everything in between.

In uniting over 50 remarkable works across media, Gray Mattersprovides a clarifying, focused lens through which to see the world afresh. You’ll encounter Roni Horn’s Opposites of White (2006/15), substantial glass sculptures that appear as pools of water—at once transparent and reflective, both mirrors and lenses. An artist typically associated with vividly colorful portraits of black women, Mickalene Thomas narrows her palette for Hair Portrait #20 (2014)—without relinquishing her celebratory use of rhinestones. The immense, sculptural graphite drawings of Nancy Rubins radiate the abundant energy expended in their making while begging reconsideration of the pencil’s power. Featuring her signature veils of ink, Marlene Dumas’s Betrayal (1994) offers blurred, indeterminate portraits of women: a meditation on sameness and difference, and on how time affects one’s worldview. Julie Mehretu’s six-panel print Epigraph, Damascus (2016) constructs what she has described as “story maps of dislocation,” here providing a portrait of the war-torn Syrian city. Mary Reid Kelley’s arresting, award-winning video This is Offal (2015–16) contemplates mortality and abandonment through a dialogue between a deceased woman and her organs. And the earliest work in the exhibition, Vija Celmins’s 1964 painting Heater, sets the glowing red center of an electric space heater amid a field of deep grays—reminding us of the constant, ever-shifting dialogue between hot and cool, color and shadow.

Gray Matters is the first exhibition organized by Michael Goodson since he assumed the role of Senior Curator of Exhibitions at the Wex, and the survey enriches a calendar year of programming in which every artist featured in our galleries is a woman.


Organized by the Wexner Center for the Arts.

Support for this exhibition is provided by Mike and Paige Crane and Neil K. Rector.



Tauba Auerbach • Carol Bove • Gisele Camargo • Vija Celmins • Bethany Collins • Marsha Cottrell • Tacita Dean • Tara Donovan • Marlene Dumas • Michelle Grabner • Josephine Halvorson • Mona Hatoum • Roni Horn • Cristina Iglesias • Jennie C. Jones • Toba Khedoori • Laura Lisbon • Suzanne McClelland • Julie Mehretu • Katie Paterson • Joyce Pensato • Amalia Pica • Mary Reid Kelley • Michal Rovner • Nancy Rubins • Arlene Shechet • Erin Shirreff • Amy Sillman • Xaviera Simmons • Diane Simpson • Lorna Simpson • Avery Singer • Michelle Stuart • Mickalene Thomas • Kara Walker • Rachel Whiteread • Carmen Winant



Gray Matters installation view 1
Left to right: Toba KhedooriUntitled (Grey Window), 2000; oil and wax on paper; collection of Adam Sender; Mona HatoumPom Pom City, 2002; natural wool, The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston; gift of Barbara Lee, The Barbara Lee Collection of Art by Women. Tauba AuerbachShadow Weave–Façade Split Wave II, 2013, and Shadow Weave (interlock, structure), 2011. Michelle GrabnerUntitled, 2017. Installation view at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

Gray Matters installation view 2
Left to right: Julie MehretuEpigraph, Damascus, 2016. Avery SingerSociety of Realist Wanderers, 2014. Installation view at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

Gray Matters installation view 3
Foreground: Arlene ShechetBuilding, 2003. Background: Carmen WinantThe Answer is Matriarchy, 2016. Installation view at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

Gray Matters installation view 4
Left to right: Roni HornOpposites of White, 2006–7. Rachel WhitereadUntitled (Cast Iron Floor), 2001. Michelle StuartSerpent Mound, Ohio, 1978–79. Installation view at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

Gray Matters installation view 5
Left to right: Joyce PensatoHoly Blackout Batman, 2015. Carol BoveUntitled, 2014. Suzanne McClellandRank (Billionaires), 2017. Installation view at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

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