The Bronx Museum of the Arts exhibition, “Honey, I Rearranged the Collection,” highlights works in the museum’s permanent collection, which dates to 1986 and tries to promote artists from diverse backgrounds.
Much of the work was recently acquired using funds gifted to the museum during its 40th anniversary commemorations last year and is being displayed for the first time.
One mural-sized painting from 1984 by Tim Rollins and the Bronx teens in his art program, called Kids of Survival (KOS), presents images of an urban wasteland on a canvas made of pasted-together pages from the book “Frankenstein.”
A large canvas by Roger Shimomura from 1997, called “The Rape of Nanking,” depicts a violent scene from the Japanese invasion of that city in the 1930s, but superimposes on it a bright yellow Pikachu character, from the 1990s video came “Pokemon,” like a giant sticker.
And a plaster cast made by John Ahearn in 1982 forms a 3-D portrait of a young Bronx girl, Selena Panasik — who, as an adult, donated her copy of the cast to the museum.
Since it began its collection, the Bronx Museum has focused on amassing the work of under-represented, minority artists with diverse viewpoints, explains Antonio Sergio Bessa, the show's curator.
In the process, the museum sparked cross-cultural conversations that helped “demystify the idea of the exotic,” and challenged institutions the world over to reconsider their own collections, Bessa says.
“Some ideas that we created here in the 1980s,” Bessa says, “are now the international model.”
The Bronx Museum, at 1040 Grand Concourse, is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday and is always free.