A new show at UO art museum forecasts ‘Strange Weather’

A new exhibition at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on the UO’s Eugene campus features contemporary art works that are meant to illuminate and reframe the boundaries of bodies and the environment. 

“Strange Weather: From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation” spans five decades, from 1970-2020, and are drawn together for how they call attention to the impact and history of forced migrations, industrialization, global capitalism and trauma on humans and the contemporary landscape. 

The works in the exhibition were collected by Jordan D. Schnitzer, an alum of the University of Oregon and one of the country’s premiere collectors of contemporary art. The works will be on display at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on the UO’s Eugene campus through April 7, 2024.

Weather can refer to both subtle and violent atmospheric conditions in a given place and time. The artists in the exhibition use a range of aesthetic strategies — including abstraction, portraiture, figurative painting, landscape and installation — to explore the current “atmospheric strangeness.” 

For example, Julie Mehretu’s three prints created as a response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 render abstract an intricate cartography of a rapidly changing climate. Kehinde Wiley’s 2009 large-scale painting, “Marechal Floriano Peixoto II,” monumentalizes issues of identity and nature. 

And Nicola Lopez’s constructed collage monoprints show dystopian urban landscapes with iron structures and vibrant colors, while Wendy Red Star's photographic series, “Four Seasons,” links weather patterns to the consumption and commodification of Native American culture. 

Together, these and other works make the body and the land legible as paired sites of contestation, offering insights about the connections between aesthetics, history and a tempestuous climate. 

Artists include Carlos Almarez, Carlos Amorales, Leonardo Drew, Joe Feddersen, Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds, James Lavadour, Nicola Lopez, Hung Liu, Julie Mehretu, Wendy Red Star, Alison Saar, Lorna Simpson, Kiki Smith, Charles Wilbert White, Kehinde Wiley and Terry Winters. 

Concurrent with “Strange Weather,” a capsule exhibition of the works of Glenn Ligon from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation will be on view in the UO museum’s Artist Project Space.

“Strange Weather” is curated by Rachel Nelson, director of the Institute of the Arts and Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz in collaboration with Jennifer González, a professor of the history of art and visual culture at UC Santa Cruz. The exhibition is organized by the Institute of the Arts and Sciences and the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History. 

The Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation in Portland was established in 1997.  Since the program’s inception, the foundation has organized more than 180 exhibitions and has art exhibited at more than 160 museums.