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Artist Nathan Mabry, whose sculptures in The Sorcerer's Burden combine cultural iconography of non-western origins with Western Minimalist art, speaks with David Odo, Director of Academic and Public Programs, Division Head, and Research Curator at the Harvard Art Museums. The artist and anthropologist discuss the intersection of their fields as they relate to cultural appreciation and appropriation.
Nathan Mabry (born 1978 in Durango, Colorado) received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2001 and his MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2004. Mabry has been the focus of important exhibitions, such as a solo presentation at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, and group exhibitions including THING: New Sculpture from Los Angeles, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Red Eye: L.A. Artists from the Rubell Family Collection, Rubell Family Collection, Miami; Body Language, Saatchi Gallery, London; and Thief Among Thieves, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. Mabry’s work is included in the collections of the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; Phoenix Museum of Art; Dallas Museum of Art; Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Private collections include 176 / Zabludowicz Collection, London; Rubell Family Collection, Miami; and Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels. Mabry’s work has been the subject of reviews and articles in publications such as Art in America, Artforum, Art + Auction, Frieze, Modern Painters, The Art Newspaper, Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times. He lives and works in Los Angeles.
Dr. David Odo is the Director of Academic and Public Programs, Division Head and Research Curator at the Harvard Art Museums. He is a visual and material anthropologist, with primary research and teaching interests in the anthropology of art, including early photography, critical museology, and objects of colonial encounter. He is the author of The Journey of “A Good Type”: From Artistry to Ethnography in Early Japanese Photographs, and his current project is a monograph about photography and history in Japan’s Ogasawara Islands. Odo received his D.Phil. in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Oxford, and a BA in East Asian Studies from Columbia University; he has held numerous research fellowships at Harvard University, the Freer and Sackler Galleries at the Smithsonian Institution, the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, and the University of Tokyo. He contributed an interview with his former academic colleague, Heather Pesanti, Chief Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs, to the exhibition catalogue for The Sorcerer’s Burden: Contemporary Art and the Anthropological Turn.