Miami Exhibit Features Susan Te Kahurangi King
New Zealand artist Susan Te Kahurangi King’s debut museum exhibition in North America opens on 8 July at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), Miami. The exhibition includes some 60 works, many of which are on view for the first time.
A local Miami arts publication interviews the curator of the exhibition, Tina Kukielski, discussing her interest in King’s work and the challenges of curating an exhibition of work by a nonverbal artist.
“When I discovered that she is in her sixties, I dug deeper and discovered that she is nonverbal and was eventually diagnosed as being severely autistic, although I didn’t know that at the time because it’s only recently come out in some of the conversations around her work,” Kukielski explains.
“[King’s] family is amazing. There were certain members of the family, Susan’s grandmother and her mother, who really understood that she had a unique gift. After [a] documentary team showed up and started to film Susan, there was a transformation in that the family realised that there really is an audience for this work. They also discovered that by starting a Facebook page and growing a following there, too. Both of those things allowed them to embrace the idea of showing her work while not having to let it go. They definitely have ambitions to try to place the work in public collections.
“There are several bodies of work represented in the show, which is really a survey of her work, and the centerpiece of the show are works from the late ’60s throughout the ’70s when she was in her twenties. These works are quasi-figurative, but in their composition and very dense arrangement, they are kind of like abstract landscapes and there is a real complexity of composition.
“I don’t have any doubt in my mind that Susan’s work deserves to be seen and deserves to be appreciated as art, and I do believe that we can glean some ideas about communication from her work. But I am also very sensitive to not assuming my voice to be her voice and trying to be very sensitive to the fact that I’ll never have the answers to certain questions about the work – about what she sees in the work and her experiences of the work personally.”
The Miami exhibition runs until 30 October.
In 2015, King had her first solo US show Drawings from Many Worlds at the Andrew Edlin Gallery in New York.
She was born in Te Aroha in 1951.
Original article by Sara Roffino, Miami Rail, Miami Herald, May 27, 2017.