New Art at GCMoA ▽

  • William Villalongo

  • The Mothership Connection

  • "To cut and paste over and under, to cut and see through, to cut and back up, to cut and paint in and on is to enact on real material the felt experience of moving though the world in a racialized body..."

     

    — William Villalongo

  • Between the celestial,

    source of divinity and discovery;

    and the terrestrial,

     course of conquest and capital.

  • The full view of Villalongo's diptych, showing the diagram of the slave ship on the left and the upraised hands, wide eyes, and dangling feet on the right. The background of each shows rock crystals and African statuary dispersed like stars against a blac

    William Villalongo, The Mothership Connection, 2020. Acrylic, glitter spray paint on yupo, cut velour paper, pigment print collage, and watercolor paper. 39 1/2 x 160 in. (100.33 x 406.40 cm) Grinnell College Museum of Art Collection, Marie-Louise and Samuel R. Rosenthal Fund

  • Detail from the left half of Villalongo's diptych showing rock crystals and African statuary against a black background. Detail from the left half of Villalongo's diptych showing rock crystals and African statuary against a black background. Detail from the left half of Villalongo's diptych showing the center of the slave ship diagram and rock crystals and African statuary against a black background. Detail from the left half of Villalongo's diptych showing rock crystals and African statuary against a black background. Detail from the left half of Villalongo's diptych showing the bow of the slave ship diagram, rock crystals and African statuary against a black background. Detail from the left half of Villalongo's diptych showing rock crystals and African statuary against a black background. Detail from the right half of Villalongo's diptych showing rock crystals and African statuary against a black background. Detail from the right half of Villalongo's diptych showing rock crystals and African statuary against a black background. Detail from the right half of Villalongo's diptych showing the upraised hands, wide eyes, and dangling feet at the center, surrounded by rock crystals and African statuary against the black background. Detail from the right half of Villalongo's diptych showing rock crystals and African statuary against a black background. Detail from the left half of Villalongo's diptych showing rock crystals and African statuary against a black background.

    This large-scale diptych takes its title from the 1975 Parliament album of the same name. The record is one of the first to explore George Clinton's P-Funk mythology, in which he envisions a celestial, Space-Age-inspired realm of resiliency and enlightenment for African Americans. In the title track of the album, Clinton introduces himself as the Mothership connection, bringing forth an environment of funk and dance. Parliament's Mothership Connection has since become a cornerstone of Afrofuturism, an aesthetic and philosophy that marks the intersection of the African diaspora with technology. 

     

    Villalongo's Mothership Connection presents two images: at left, the silhouette of a slave ship, derived from a well-known print created in 1787; at right, a disembodied figure both emerging from and diving into the darkness. Meteorites, minerals, and rock crystals are interspersed with African statuary and masks, objects that are markers of the primordial, spiritual, ritual, and cultural, and also currency in the trade and trafficking of resources, commodities, and black bodies. The celestial and earthly are bound together through the imagery of historical violence and its repercussions in the present. Referencing scholar Christina Sharpe's In the Wake, the slave vessel recalls the tragic history of the Middle Passage for enslaved Africans and its mark — or the "wake" of these voyages — on the contemporary African diaspora. In particular, Villalongo highlights not just the systemic racism and trauma resulting from slavery but how this experience informs his own African American cultural traditions, remembrance, and ancestry. 

  • William Villalongo in the GCMoA Collection

    The Mothership Connection joins two existing pieces in the Grinnell College Museum of Art Collection.

  • Installation Views

    William Villalongo's works featured in For Campus and Community, GCMoA's 20th anniversary exhibition, on view in fall 2019.

  • A RETROSPECTIVE OF THE ARTIST'S WORK

    William Villalongo: Myths & Migrations

    Curated by Daniel Strong

    Will Originate at the Grinnell College Museum of Art in 2023

    Explore a Preview of the Exhibition

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  • Bust-length photograph of the artist William Villalongo wearing a gray hoodie.

    WILLIAM VILLALONGO (b. 1975, Hollywood, Florida) was raised in Bridgeton, New Jersey, and now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He received his B.F.A. from The Cooper Union School of Art, NYC, and his M.F.A. from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, Philadelphia. He is a past recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant. In 2021 he was awarded the prestigious Rome Prize, sponsored by the American Academy in Rome, and will be in residence at the Academy through August 2022.

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     Explore art of the african diaspora in the grinnell college museum of art collection

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