From an early age, Director of the School of Visual Arts Kevin Concannon has been a devotee of artist, peace activist, and cultural icon Yoko Ono.
Throughout his education and career he has completed extensive scholarly research and published numerous articles focused on Yoko Ono and her work. He has brought her art and message to thousands by curating exhibits of her work, and now he is bringing them to Southwest Virginia this fall through two area exhibits.
Concannon originally curated “Imagine Peace: Featuring John & Yoko’s Year of Peace” in 2007 with John Noga, who was a graduate student at the time, for the Emily Davis Gallery in the Myers School of Art at the University of Akron. Now, “Imagine Peace: Featuring John & Yoko’s Year of Peace” will be on display at the Taubman Museum of Art Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, through Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014.
The exhibition focuses on the thematic ideals of peace and love and presents the work of Yoko Ono and John Lennon chronologically as solo artists and as a couple in the 1960s, as well as a selection of Ono’s recent solo works. Showcased are interactive works by Ono that demonstrate her long-standing practice of involving individuals in the process of achieving peace through the power of imagination.
The exhibit also includes installations that are designed to help visitors spread the message of love and peace worldwide through the use of rubber stamps, postcards, flashlights, and buttons.
“Cut Piece,” one of Ono’s performance pieces, will be performed by Eva Thornton at the Taubman Museum of Art on Thursday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m.
In “Cut Piece,” which was first performed by Ono in Kyoto, Japan in July 1964, the performer sits on stage wearing his or her best clothes. A pair of scissors is placed nearby with which audience members may cut pieces of the performer’s clothing. Most typically seen as a feminist work, it has also been understood as a pacifist plea for peace, a Buddhist ritual, a lesson about gifts, and even a reverse strip-tease.
A second, related exhibition called “Yoko Ono; My Mommy is Beautiful” will run Sept. 10, through Oct. 1, in the School of Visual Arts’ Armory Art Gallery at Virginia Tech. The show will feature the title piece as well as film of Ono performing “Cut Piece.”
First presented in 2004, Yoko Ono’s “My Mommy Is Beautiful” has been realized as gallery installations and as social media on virtual venues such as such as Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and Twitter. For the upcoming exhibit at Virginia Tech, the artist’s tribute to her own mother will be accompanied by a series of blank, white panels to which visitors may attach their own messages.
An opening for the Armory Art Gallery show is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 19, 5–7 p.m. The opening is free and open to the public. The Armory Art Gallery is located at 201 Draper Road NW. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 12–4 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m.–2 p.m.