Wexner Center for the Arts addresses new institution building and social issues in exhibition Climate Changing: On Artists, Institutions, and the Social Environment

Thu, Nov 19, 2020

Group exhibition includes over 20 artists and artists collectives with 9 commissions

The Wexner Center for the Arts is delighted to announce Climate Changing: On Artists, Institutions, and the Social Environment, a major group exhibition opening January 30, 2021Originally scheduled to debut in May of 2020 as the conclusion to the Wex’s 30th anniversary season, the exhibition was postponed due to the pandemic. Climate Changing foregrounds contemporary artists’ engagement with social issues and shaping institutions—an engagement that’s all the more critical during the entwined health crises of systemic racism and COVID-19.

Climate Changing gathers a multigenerational group of over 20 artists who contend with social matters and structural injustices, using a work that alters the structure of the institution itself as a launch point. Chris Burden’s architectural intervention Wexner Castle (1990), commissioned during the center’s inaugural year of exhibitions, has been recreated for the exhibition. Burden crenellated the brick sections on the façade of the center’s post-modern architecture, designed by Peter Eisenman, making more palpable the reference to the Ohio State Armory that formerly stood on the same site. Wexner Castle is on view now ahead of the rest of the exhibition, which will present additional work outdoors and in the lower lobby as well as occupying all of the center’s galleries. Burden’s work will remain installed through the early summer of 2021, in commemoration of the year that would have marked the late artist’s 75th birthday.

The exhibition’s curator, Lucy I. Zimmerman, questions how artists play a vital role in reinterpreting and recasting institutional paradigms amid today’s tumultuous climate. Is the museum a fortress or castle to protect “precious” cultural objects, or is it a platform for producing new ones? If the purpose of a museum is to provide and produce a space for culture—and by extension, serve as an arbiter of value—how can it forge pathways towards ethical awareness and foster active, equitable participation in shaping those values? What are artists’ roles within museums, communities, and culture? And whom do museums serve?

Climate Changing is not an exhaustive survey of any or every societal issue, nor is it intent on declaring that the scope of topics covered in this exhibition are the most significant subjects of our time. Instead, through the presentation of works that span multiple themes and frameworks, this exhibition emphasizes the power of intersectionality and interdependence, and encourages a collective reimagining of our social environment.

Reaffirming the Wex’s mission to support the process and creation of work, Climate Changing will feature new commissions from nine artists, with a number of them adapting and expanding upon existing projects. Among these is Torkwase Dyson’s Bird and Lava, supported by a 2020–21 Wexner Center Artist Residency Award.



Participating artists


Chris Burden; a project by Abraham Cruzvillegas with Tony Ball, Brianna Gluszak, Aaron Peters, Akeylah Wellington, and Bradley Weyandt*; Demian DinéYazhi´*; Torkwase Dyson*; Futurefarmers*; Jibade-Khalil Huffman*; Dave Hullfish Bailey*; Danielle Julian Norton*; Baseera Khan*; Carolyn Lazard; Park McArthur; Pope.L; Raqs Media Collective; Related Tactics*; Jacolby Satterwhite; Sable Elyse Smith; Constantina Zavitsanos.

A robust, illustrated gallery guide will accompany the exhibition, featuring an essay by Zimmerman and commissioned and previously unpublished writings from Pope.LDemian DinéYazhi´Jibade-Khalil Huffman, and Park McArthur and Constantina Zavitsanos. Excerpts from a roundtable discussion with an advisory committee created for Climate Changing will also be included in the guide. The interdisciplinary committee includes Dan DiPiero, Erica Levin, Margaret Price, Maurice Stevens, and Lucille Toth.


Organization & Support

This exhibition is organized by the Wexner Center for the Arts and curated by Lucy I. Zimmerman, Associate Curator of Exhibitions, with support from Dareen Hussein and Anna Talarico, Graduate Interns.

Exhibition support provided by Ohio State’s Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme.


Thumbnail image: Ohio State Armory demolition in 1959. Photo courtesy of The Ohio State University Archives