Press Release: Speed Art Museum 2021 Exhibition Season Announcement

For Immediate Release
December 7, 2020

Tory Parker, Speed Art Museum

Louisville, KY (December 7, 2020) The Speed Art Museum is proud to present four major exhibitions in 2021. This collection of exhibitions presents the work of artists from around the world, while also celebrating an internationally recognized collection built right here in Louisville and an essential artist and project that could only have been created in Kentucky.

The first in the series of exhibitions will open on February 5, 2021. Collecting – A Love Story: Glass from the Adele and Leonard Leight Collection draws together more than 60 works by over 50 artists to illustrate both the Leights’ shared lives as collectors and the stories of international contemporary glass embedded within their collection.

Co-curated by Scott Erbes, the Speed’s Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, and widely exhibited artist and educator Norwood Viviano, this exhibition will use the breadth of the Leight Collection to examine the diverse practices of the artists represented. The exhibition will feature in the Leight Gallery on the second floor of the North Building and throughout the permanent collection galleries, culminating in the Loft Gallery at the south end of the Museum.

“Leonard and Adele proved that when it comes to something like collecting, two heads are always better than one. The Leights never acquired a work unless they both agreed upon it, and it has led to one of the country’s most significant collections of contemporary glass,” says curator Scott Erbes. “It is such a gift to have it not only here in Kentucky, but to be able to share it with our guests at the Speed.”

Opening later that month on February 19, Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper features the life-size, trompe l’œil paper costumes of Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave. Organized in partnership with the Dixon Gallery and Gardens of Memphis, this retrospective has broken attendance records at other venues already and will give Louisville its first chance to appreciate an artist whose work combines craft, fashion, and paper to show how paintings can be transformed into three-dimensional sculpture.

Borchgrave’s practice involves the manipulation of paper and paint to create fully formed sculptural costume pieces. The costumes in this exhibition span nearly 500 years of fashion, replicating historical garments found in European masterworks and in collections around the country.

Fashioning Art from Paper is truly a show-stopping exhibition unlike anything we’ve seen at the Speed before,” says Erika Holmquist-Wall, Mary & Barry Bingham Sr., Curator of European & American Painting & Sculpture. “If you are a lover of painting, craft, fashion, or sheer technical skill, this exhibition is going to blow you away. It is theatrical, beautiful, wildly creative, and a wholly new way to look at art.”

In August, the Speed will debut a highly-anticipated new addition to the permanent collection and a treasured part of Kentucky’s history—the original photographs from Ralph Eugene Meatyard and Wendell Berry’s The Unforeseen Wilderness. In 1971, Meatyard and Berry worked together to create a love letter and rallying cry for the preservation of Kentucky’s Red River Gorge, featuring essays from Berry and photographs from the late Meatyard, taken as the two traversed the Gorge together.

With support from the artist’s family and several donors, the Speed acquired one of only three full sets of exhibition prints from this series in 2019. Wendell Berry joined the Speed in September 2019 to honor this acquisition by reading his introduction to the book devoted to Gene Meatyard.

“This work belonged in Kentucky,” said Director Stephen Reily, “and the Speed is proud to own and now share the work of one of the 20th century’s most important photographers, one who also made his life and career in Kentucky. The Unforeseen Wilderness was the first use of art as environmental advocacy in the Southeast, and Ralph Eugene Meatyard’s photography helped preserve Red River Gorge with work that reflects the deep natural beauty of our Commonwealth.”

Finally, just in time for Halloween of 2021, the Speed will welcome Supernatural America: The Paranormal in American Art. Organized by the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA), this major exhibition will travel to only two other venues, including the Speed.

“This groundbreaking exhibition brings together American artists from a wide range of artistic practice, cultures, and generations in an effort to question and make sense of the idea of the otherworldly and the unexplained,” says curator Erika Holmquist-Wall. “Whether these artists are drawing upon faith, folklore, or even experience, their work calls out the history and the truths that haunt this country.”

Supernatural America presents a unique and harrowing collection of artworks from 1800 to the present that reflect on the haunted nature of America and its history.

“I am excited to share and plan for these exhibitions even as I prepare to transition away from the Speed, ” said Director Stephen Reily, who is slated to step down from his role in March. “The quality of our partnerships, acquisitions and relationships with collectors have never been stronger. These exhibitions, moreover, reflect all aspects of how we want to serve Louisville and Kentucky during complicated times: with art that reflects the love of two collectors for each other and for the Speed; with art that offers a refuge through creativity and beauty; with photographs that served as effective environmental advocacy; and with art that reflects (and may help us heal) the imperfect path of American history.”


Exhibition season support provided by:
Cary Brown and Steven E. Epstein
Paul and Deborah Chellgren
Debra and Ronald Murphy
Eleanor Bingham Miller

About the Speed Art Museum

The Speed Art Museum is Kentucky’s largest art museum. Its mission is to “invite everyone to celebrate art forever.” It is an independent and encyclopedic museum located on the campus of the University of Louisville. In 1927, Louisville philanthropist Hattie Bishop Speed founded the Speed Art Museum, with a belief in the power of art to change people’s lives.

The Speed reopened after a four month closure this past July with Andy Warhol: Revelation, The World Turned Upside Down and The World Turned Upside Down: A Contemporary Response. This past August, the Museum opened Careful, Neat & Decent: Arts of the Kentucky Shakers and Mariam Ghani + Erin Ellen Kelly: When the Spirits Moved Them, They Moved, both part of “Shaker Commonwealth,” a celebration of Kentucky Shaker arts and culture at the Speed Art Museum.



IMAGE: Isabelle de Borchgrave
b. 1946, Belgium
Elizabeth I Court Dress, 2001
Inspired by a ca. 1599 portrait by the studio of Nicolas Hilliard (English, ca. 1547-1619) at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire