40 for 40: Anniversary Highlights from The Rockwell Collection, Curated by Steven & William Ladd

On view: September 24, 2016 – January 15, 2017

Silver Dollar Society Private Reception: September 23, 2016

Public Opening Reception: September 30, 2016, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
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In celebration of The Rockwell Museum’s 40th anniversary, guest artists Steven Ladd  and William Ladd were asked to curate an exhibition that reflects their American experience. The brothers mined The Rockwell Museum’s collection in order to create 40 visual stories. Each object has been installed in a unique grouping designed to alter its original meaning, encouraging us to view them in a new light. In 40 for 40, the artistic creation is the new context rather than the objects themselves.

The Ladds are professional artists who have been collaborating in New York City for over 16 years. They have installed select pieces of their own work alongside objects curated from The Rockwell’s collection in order to better tell their American story. Universal themes such as Childhood, Home, and Ceremony will resonate with museum visitors.

40 for 40 explores the art of looking! It does not require a knowledge of art. It prompts us to filter each work through the lens of our own personal experience. This new approach to curation has never before been explored at The Rockwell. This 40th anniversary exhibition will provoke our visitors’ curiosity, ignite imagination, and challenge their perspectives. 

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“Spend your life doing what you love, be focused and disciplined, collaborate.” -Steven and William Ladd

Steven and William Ladd: Artists’ Statement

Before we are artists, we are brothers. We are based in New York City, but our large, loving Midwestern family is at the heart of our values and our work. Our art has evolved from meticulously hand-crafted fashion accessories to abstract portraits of shared memories, places, people and experiences. In them, we transform everyday materials, such as belting textiles, used fabric, beads, metal trinkets or paper, into works of art. We share a passion for recycling. We collaborate with glassmakers. We love to sew, bead, brainstorm and draw.

We tease and laugh and talk as we work, shaping the development of each piece over time. The physical process is painstaking and unpredictable. William may create hundreds of intricate tiny tree forms from glass beads, or weave beads into translucent seven-foot panels. We have made life-sized trees from papier-mâché, infestations of half-inch cast metal ants, and gigantic cartoon bombs from blown glass. Steven’s ideas often emerge in spontaneous drawings worked over and over and later compiled in unique hand-sewn books. Whatever form it takes, each work expresses our core aesthetics, our deepest feelings, and our joy in life.

Our artistic vocabulary is articulated through a wide range of techniques and approaches. It is always evolving. Our pieces often have different states – for example, we hand craft boxes, fill them with scrolls made from recycled belting material and embellish them with pinned trinkets and beads. They may be closed and stacked in elegant and austere tower arrangements; opened and displayed in grids on a wall; or spread out in “landscape” formations on the floor. Sometimes, we open the boxes in rhythmic, choreographed performances that reveal unexpected hidden contents. Seemingly soft surfaces may disguise jagged pins and dangers we call “infections” or “wounds.” It is all part of our world.

We find everyday people endlessly inspiring, so we’ve figured out ways to interact with all kinds of communities – from school children and their families to special needs groups, patients at hospitals, and inmates at correctional facilities. They create their own objects and contribute to a collaborative work. Everything we do embodies our core values: Spend your life doing what you love. Be focused and disciplined. Collaborate.


This exhibition is made possible by media sponsors The Star Gazette and Go! Twin Tiers. 





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