Each week, Artful spotlights an art experience or destination that speaks to us right now.
Looking at sculpture outdoors, in a park such as Storm King Art Center, is perhaps the only kind of art experience that remains more or less as it was before the pandemic. The latest addition to this upstate New York art haven, however, is a potent reminder that much has changed. Rashid Johnson’s work The Crisis (2019), which was installed this week and is on view through November 8, sounds an urgent note with its blazing yellow steel pyramid set against a field of native grass (as opposed to the manicured lawns beneath many of the park’s other sculptures.)
The title is ambiguous, its singular “crisis” having grown, in the time since the sculpture was first conceived, to encompass numerous crises from social injustice to the pandemic. Johnson has said, “When I was making this work in 2019, there was so much talk about a ‘crisis at the border’—but now, in 2021, there is even more at stake.”
Visitors to Storm King will be able to interact with the work in a number of ways, getting up close to see the small objects nestled within its open grid—fiberglass busts, handmade ceramic planters, and blocks of Johnson’s signature material, shea butter—or gazing down on it from surrounding hills. Next fall, it will also serve as the backdrop for performances of Johnson’s 2019 ballet The Hikers, which uses an unexpected encounter between two Black male figures to explore, in the artist’s words, “how the body becomes accustomed to the conditions of stress and anxiety.”