Ace: Art on Sports, Promise, and Selfhood

June 28 – December 7, 2019


“I mean, maybe I was holding all the aces, but what was the game?” —Joan Didion

The artists represented in Ace will use sports and athletic culture to explore how youth, gender, race, promise, and identity are intertwined with athleticism, and how these elements share roles in defining cultural codes and rituals, thereby engendering community. While there have been several exhibitions of late that address similar themes, Ace will focus on topics of specific relevance to the university campus, with an emphasis on the social and cultural impact of competitive sports on young athletes.

Moving freely across artistic disciplines, Ace will offer multiple points of entry for visitors to consider the parallels between the physicality of sports and the active process of creating art. How do young athletes and artists balance their passions and self-imposed challenges with the prospect of thwarted expectations and potential failure––or conversely, fame and power? What are the cultural impacts of harnessing and commodifying youthful stamina and drive? Who defines the rules of the game, and who gets to break them? Where does true resilience come from? And what does the future hold for the aces of today?

Ace will include several commissioned projects that will unfold over time and activate the museum space. During the course of the exhibition, the museum will serve as a site for reflection, dialogue, and artistic exploration. Drawing on guest speakers and the academic resources of the university, the museum will host regular talks, performances, readings, and informal conversations related to the subject of art and athletics within a broad cultural, social, historical, and political framework.

Ry Rocklen
Trophy Modern 2013 Norton Christmas Project, 2013
Working lamp
24 x 12 x 12 inches
Collection of University Art Museum, University at Albany, State University of New York on behalf of The University at Albany Foundation, Gift of Peter Norton Christmas Project