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15 May 2016
By Lee Walton
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Father and Daughter View the Exhibition, 2012

More Love: Art, Politics, and Sharing Since the 1990s, Ackland Art Museum, Chapel Hill, NC Cheekwood Museum of Art, Nashville, TN



Father and Daughter View the Exhibition was a piece created for the thematic exhibition More Love: Art, Politics, and Sharing Since the 1990s at the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, NC.


For this exhibition, I aimed to create artwork that highlighted the loving act of sharing an experience. More specifically, the relationship between a father and a daughter visiting an art exhibition together.


This choice was a direct reflection of my own experience with my daughter, who was 9 years old at the time. As an art enthusiast and parent, I learned that a contemplative museum experience is difficult to have with a child. The child’s movements and behavior command a great deal of attention, and in a way, taking the child to the museum becomes a way of educating the child, not in art, but in the lesson of visiting the museum as a valuable act. The visit becomes a total aesthetic experience.


My strategy was to re-create that experience, putting a spotlight on this intimate act for a larger public. To do this, I invited father/daughter pairs to view the exhibit each day for the entire run of the exhibition. I instructed the pairs to visit the museum on their scheduled day, precisely from 4:00pm to 4:30pm. No documentation of their experience was required.


The formalization of this artwork took 2 distinct forms. One, inside the exhibition itself was a text installation on the wall that stated, “TODAY, PRECISELY FROM 4:00-4:30PM A FATHER AND DAUGHTER WILL VIEW THE EXHIBITION.” Depending on the time of day, visitors would realize that a father and daughter were going to view the exhibition later in the day, had viewed the exhibition, or were in the museum at that very moment. More importantly, museum visitors were unaware of the identity of the father and daughters participating in the piece. This non-specificity allowed visitors to imagine who the father and daughter were along with the possibilities of who in the museum was a performer. Secondly, this work was the public invitation to participate. This press release became an extension of my exploration of the museum’s media-relations as a literal and digital extension of the museum space.


To my delight, 43 different fathers and daughters accepted the invitation, including my daughter and I. The diverse range of pairings genuinely surprised me and the enthusiasm was beyond my expectations. For example, some fathers with newborn babies responded to the call, while some daughters responded who wanted to take their elderly father.


Visual influences on the work were found in the visual strategies of 3 conceptual artists: Lawrence Wiener’s simple and bold vinyl text installations, Mel Bochner’s installation of black text on gallery walls describing the actual metric measurements of the space, and Hamish Fulton’s textual installations, unaccompanied by photos, as a record of an authentic solitary experience.


Community events like golf tournaments and walk-a-thons influenced the social practice for this work. Acting as a kind of creative director, the project became an enjoyable administrative challenge. In this way, I intentionally shifted the role of the artist from the sole producer to the facilitator.


Note: This exhibition later traveled to the Cheekwood Museum of Art in Nashville, TN. For this performance, I scheduled numerous families, rather than just fathers and daughters, to view the exhibition. This happened every Friday from 4:00 to 4:30pm.

Additional Notes


This exhibition was accompanied by a hardback book. More Love, Art, Politics, and Sharing Since the 1990s

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