This special project will take place from July to November of this year, and will present works from the Museum's collection—evoking themes of heroism and leadership, identity and family, politics and religion, and the precious routines of everyday life—on 20 billboards throughout the city of Wichita. Recent circumstances have challenged museums to rethink what they can offer to the public. This project is a creative response to the current situation, which will make art from the Ulrich collection accessible and visible to all in the Wichita community while the Museum remains closed until January 2021 in order to observe public health best practices.
The billboards contain images of works from the Ulrich collection that speak to a broad audience and connect viewers to a sense of shared humanity during this moment of national crisis. Through this project, the Ulrich will engage the public with the idea that we count on artists to create images that elicit empathy, resilience, and sense of connection for ourselves and others even in the most difficult of times. The 28 works represented on 20 billboards embody different styles and time periods, but all are visually-striking, culturally-significant images that will offer relevant food for thought, aesthetic pleasure, and representation of the ethnic, racial, gender, and class diversity at a time when Americans need to see positive images of themselves as united by shared values.
In selecting works, the Ulrich is particularly focused on representing pieces by established and highly respected Wichita or Kansas artists whose work we have in our collection, including Patrick Duegaw, Terry Evans, Ann Resnick, and Larry Schwarm. Additionally, works by artists with strong Wichita or Kansas connections will be highlighted, including those by Kevin Mullins and Gordon Parks. The remaining billboards will contain pieces by a culturally and racially diverse array of both American and international artists, including Benny Andrews, Alice Aycock, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Romare Bearden, Gajin Fujita, Robert Indiana, Zhang Huan, Louise Nevelson, Alan Rath, Faith Ringgold, Hank Willis Thomas, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Matika Wilbur, and JeongMee Yoon. You can read more about the artworks on the billboards that are currently up on our Collection Portal.
The Ulrich also will generate extensive digital content to educate and engage the public with the art on view. The Museum will present a series of public virtual programs with audience Q & A. The programs will include discussions with scholars and the artists whose works will be on view, including in-studio visits with Duegaw, Resnick, and Schwarm and conversations with Aycock, Evans, Fujita, Huan, Smith, Thomas, and art historian John Edward Mason on the work of Gordon Parks. We will also be featuring song playlists inspired by the billboards and created by KMUW's Jedd Beaudoin; you can find those playlists on our Spotify page.
We are partnering with the Smartify App to help viewers access the most complete information possible on the billboards while visiting them; downloading the app is free and easy. There will also be web-based texts with information about the artists and their works, as well as multi-disciplinary curricular content for K-12 and college students.
Funding for this exhibition is provided by Lead Sponsors: Mike and Dee Michaelis and Emprise Bank with additional individual support from Lee and Ron Starkel, Dr. John and Nancy Brammer, Jeff and Janice Van Sickle, Tami Bradley and Nancy McMaster, Rick Muma, George and Eleanor Lucas, and Dr. Pat Purvis.
Additional funding for this program is provided by Humanities Kansas, a nonprofit cultural organization that connects communities with history, traditions, and ideas to strengthen civic life. Views expressed are not necessarily those of Humanities Kansas or the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Thank you to Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission for Re-Imagined Spaces funding with support from the National Endowment
for the Arts.
To make a contribution to the Community Billboard Project, please visit WSU Foundation (be sure to go to choose your designation and select Edwin A. Ulrich Annual Exhibition Fund in the drop down menu). Thank your your support!
Banner: Benny Andrews, Symbols, 1971. Oil and collage on canvas. Gift of Mr. Milton Ratner, Collection of the Ulrich Museum of Art.
Billboards installed on July 1 and those to be unveiled on August 3 and August 10:
Click on the map for the Google version.