Sculptor Leonardo Drew will give the sixth annual Betty Jean and Wayne Thiebaud Endowed Lecture on Feb. 6 at 4:30 p.m. The free lecture, presented by the UC Davis Department of Art and Art History, will be held at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art.
Drew creates massive sculptures of accumulated, transformed materials that critique social injustices and the cyclical nature of existence. His art has been shown internationally and is in numerous collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Guggenheim; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; and the Tate Modern in London.
Inspiration from dump to ceramics
Drew takes inspiration from the dump near his childhood home in Connecticut, a slave trading post in Senegal he visited, Chinese ceramics and Japanese papermaking. While his artworks appear to be made of found and cast-off items, they are not; he creates the aged and broken appearance of the materials. He has described his art and process as an exploration of the world, materials and himself.
“As a receiver of information, I want to take in as much as possible, I want to learn as much as possible, and I want to give back as much as possible,” he said in a recent interview. “You know that you don't have all the answers, and the unknown is the best place to be as an artist. That actually leads you to ask questions. That’s the position I place myself in, always.”
Commissions from cities, museums, airport
His most recent public commission, “City in the Grass,” was a 100-by-30-foot topographical mosaic in Madison Square Park in New York City last year. In 2017 he created an installation in the massive lobby of the de Young Museum in San Francisco, and last year he installed a commissioned piece at the San Francisco International Airport. Drew currently has a solo exhibition at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and is represented in San Francisco by Anthony Meier Fine Arts.
The lecture series is named for the late Betty Jean Thiebaud, filmmaker and educator, and her husband, Wayne Thiebaud, world-renowned artist and UC Davis professor emeritus. Past speakers include artists David Salle and Aliza Nisenbaum and The New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl.
Upcoming art talks
The UC Davis Art Studio Visiting Artist Lecture series will bring two other artists to the Manetti Shrem Museum to give presentations in February and March.
Jonathan Calm, a photography and video artist and assistant professor at Stanford University, gives a talk Feb. 27 about his recent work inspired by The Negro Motorists Green Book, which served as a guide to African Americans traveling during the Jim Crow era.
Frances Stark, whose drawings, collages, videos, performances and paintings have been exhibited worldwide, will speak March 12. Her work was in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, the 2011 and 2017 Venice Biennale, and her mid-career survey was at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 2015–16.
The free talks are at 4:30 p.m.
To learn more about the arts programs in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science, visit https://arts.ucdavis.edu/.