World-renowned jazz pianist and composer Jason Moran is also a visual artist whose fascinating work explores the interplay between objects and sound, sculpture and stagecraft. The first exhibition to present his visual art in a museum context, Jason Moran surveys the range of mediums the artist has explored—from intimate charcoal drawings to large-scale installations—while simultaneously showcasing his art world collaborations.

Moran grounds his practice in music while bridging the visual and performing arts. Known for dynamic musical compositions that challenge conventional forms, Moran has an equally experimental approach to producing his visual art, which pushes beyond the traditionally staged performance, sculpture, or drawing to amplify the ways that all are inherently theatrical.

Featured in this exhibition are Moran’s mixed-media “set” installations that pay homage to the places and processes of jazz. Several pieces evoke the architecture of music venues that were pivotal to genre’s evolution, including New York’s Savoy Ballroom and Three Deuces. And just as jazz musicians come together to engage in a collective process of improvisation—another aspect of the “set”—Moran partners with other visual artists to create video-based installations. You’ll encounter his collaborations with Theaster Gates, Glenn Ligon, Julie Mehretu, Adam Pendleton, Lorna Simpson, Kara Walker, and Carrie Mae Weems, among other celebrated figures.

In-gallery musical performances will activate the installations during the run of the exhibition. The Ogún Meji Duo, featuring Wexner Center Artist Residency Award recipient Mark Lomax II on percussion and Edwin Bayard on tenor saxophone, plays during the May 31 opening preview. See local legends Tommy Jay’s Latest Freak Show perform in the galleries on July 18 and Saintseneca on August 8.

"The staging is spectacular…Moran’s exhibition is not just a walk through his artistic career—it is also a dynamic walk through American history."
Savory Ballroom installation

Jason Moran
STAGED: Savoy Ballroom 1, 2015
Photo: Farzad Owrang © Jason Moran
Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York

Slugs Saloon

Installation view of Jason Moran at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

Chess

Lorna Simpson
Chess, 2013
Three-channel HD video (black and white, sound)
10 hrs.19 mins. (loop)
Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth
©Lorna Simpson

Installation next to video projection

Installation view of Jason Moran at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

The Death of Tom

Glenn Ligon
The Death of Tom, 2008
16 mm film (black and white, sound) transferred to video
Running time: 23 mins.
Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York, Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Thomas Dane Gallery, London
© Glenn Ligon

Run 6

Jason Moran
Run 6, 2016
Charcoal on paper 10 x 36 1/2 in.
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Butler Family Fund, 2017
Photo: Farzad Owrang
Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York
© Jason Moran

Savoy Ballroom next to video projections

Installation view of Jason Moran at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

Performance in the Savoy installation

Installation view of Jason Moran at the Wexner Center for the Arts. Photo: Katie Spengler-Gentry.

Chess Isimpson

Lorna Simpson
Chess, 2013
Three-channel HD video (black and white, sound)
10 hrs.19 mins. (loop)
Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth
©Lorna Simpson

About the Artist(s)

Jason Moran (b. 1975, Houston) was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2010 and is currently the artistic director for jazz at The Kennedy Center. Moran, who teaches at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, has produced more than a dozen albums and six film soundtracks, including scores for Ava DuVernay’s films Selma and 13th. His visual work was featured in the 2015 Venice Biennale and is represented in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Moran has performed at the Wex with Bandwagon in 2003 and Don Byron in 2006.

Jason Moran is organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and is made possible with generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the William and Nadine McGuire Commissioning Fund. Additional support was provided by Mike and Elizabeth Sweeney. Piano by Steinway & Sons. The exhibition was curated by Adrienne Edwards, former Walker Art Center Curator at Large, Visual Arts, with Danielle Jackson, former Mellon Interdisciplinary Fellow, Visual Arts.

The Wexner Center’s presentation is overseen by Senior Curator of Exhibitions Michael Goodson and Director of Exhibitions Management Megan Cavanaugh and supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. 

SUPPORT FOR JASON MORAN AT THE WEXNER CENTER
National Endowment for the Arts

SUPPORT FOR ARTS ACCESS AT THE WEXNER CENTER
Cardinal Health Foundation
Huntington Bank

GENERAL OPERATING SUPPORT FOR THE WEXNER CENTER
Greater Columbus Arts Council
Ohio Arts Council
The Columbus Foundation
Nationwide Foundation

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Jason Moran