Gilded: Contemporary Artists Explore Value and Worth
On View September 22, 2023 - January 8, 2024
Across time and cultures, gold has served as a metaphor for what we value most. Symbolically, it stands in for goodness, excellence, brilliance, and wealth. Across the arts, craftspeople have long pounded gold into thin sheets called leaves, which are applied in a process called gilding. While we most frequently associate gold leaf with historic traditions, the material appears frequently in the work of contemporary artists. Specifically, the artists represented in this exhibition turn to gilding as a means to reconsider our value systems. Gilding images of graffiti and sidewalks, cardboard boxes and architectural fragments, they ask us to see the beauty in what we so often overlook and honor that which we so often throw away. Gilding images of people—often those who have been disempowered or forgotten—they ask us to hold up our collective humanity. If, as the saying goes, “all that glitters is not gold,” the artists represented here offer an inverse proposition: perhaps that which does not always shine is most worthy of our attention.
Gilded: Contemporary Artists Explore Value and Worth is organized by the Weatherspoon Art Museum at UNC Greensboro and curated by Emily Stamey
Image header: Angela Fraleigh, These things are your becoming, 2014. Oil, 23k gold leaf, metal leaf, and galkyd on canvas; 67 x 90 in. Courtesy of the artist. © Angela Fraleigh, photo by Ken EK, courtesy of the artist