April 1 - June 26, 2022
From the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth:
“The FOCUS series is presented by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and features three solo exhibitions each year. Started in 2005, this series is committed to introducing visitors to emerging artists gaining worldwide acclaim and showing the work of esteemed mid-career artists previously under-recognized in the region. The FOCUS series is organized by Associate Curator Alison Hearst. FOCUS exhibitions are open to the public and are included in general Museum admission.
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is pleased to present the exhibition FOCUS: Jamal Cyrus, on view April 1–June 26, 2022. The Houston-based artist examines forgotten, ignored, or fragmentary accounts of Black American culture. He raises clear questions about “official” history, what is overlooked and why, and the biases held by those writing and interpreting it. Cyrus uses a range of materials including musical equipment, food, plant life, and used clothing, but transforms them into densely layered objects that refer to Southern material culture.
For his exhibition at the Modern, Cyrus will be making new sculptures, drawings, and assemblages that center on what the artist calls “sonic territory,” the aural and musical landscape of a region—in this case, the Trinity River basin. This sprawling area of central and north Texas, which includes the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, has a rich musical legacy including western swing, blues, Tejano, jazz, rock ’n’ roll, and country western. The new work specifically examines the contributions of Fort Worthian, multireedist, and composer Julius Hemphill (1938–1995). Cyrus draws on the relationship between land and the musical cultures born from it, a connection that stems from the concept of “alluvial soil,” a phrase coined by William Ferris in the book Blues from the Delta. Alluvial soil describes the material sediment, including clay, gravel, and alluvium, that spills over and deposits onto the banks of flooded rivers and is rife with fertile possibilities, forming in agriculture and eventually spilling out into the cultural. Exploring our area’s landscapes, natural and manmade, Cyrus’s site-specific exhibition dives into the poetic layers, histories, and mythologies comprising this large area bifurcated and shaped by the Trinity River.
Cyrus was born in 1973 in Houston, where he currently lives and works. He received a BFA from the University of Houston in 2004 and an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008. He has won the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, Joan Mitchell Foundation grant, the Artadia Houston Award, and the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship. He was awarded the prestigious Driskell Prize in 2020, and his work is currently the subject of a retrospective organized by the Blaffer Museum of Art in Houston that travels to the ICA in Los Angeles. Cyrus’s work has been featured at such venues as Prospect, New Orleans; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Akron Art Museum, Ohio; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Asia Society, New York; New Museum, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit; Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia; Studio Museum of Harlem; and the Brooklyn Museum. Cyrus was also a member of the collective Otabenga Jones and Associates; the group exhibited at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington DC; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Menil Collection, Houston; and the 2006 Whitney Biennial.
Tuesday Evenings at the Modern Lecture
March 29, 6 pm
Auditorium and livestream
At the conclusion of the FOCUS season in the spring, one work or group of works from each exhibition is held for the annual Purchase Meeting. During this event, members of the Director’s Council vote to determine which work will be recommended for acquisition by the Modern, thus contributing to the Museum’s permanent collection and shaping its cultural footprint. To learn more about how to deepen your relationship with the Modern and the FOCUS program through membership and to be a part of the acquisition process, please contact the development department at [email protected]
For a checklist, high-resolution images, or to schedule an interview, please email [email protected]
River Bends to Gulf (Double Time), 2021
Denim and cotton thread
73 x 110 1/2 inches
Image credit: Allyson Huntsman
© Jamal Cyrus, Courtesy of the artist and Inman Gallery, Houston “
On View: April 1, 2022 | 12–5 pm
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
3200 Darnell Street
Fort Worth, 76110 TX
(817) 738-9215Get directions