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Ed Ruscha; America Her Best Product from Kent Bicentennial Portfolio Spirit of Independence, 1974
Ed Ruscha (American, b. 1937); America Her Best Product from Kent Bicentennial Portfolio Spirit of Independence, 1974; lithograph on paper; 31 1/4 x 23 1/2 inches; gift of P. Lorillard & Company, 1977.23 © Ed Ruscha

From the rise of America as a world superpower after WWII—and with it, a distinctly individual and identifiably “American” approach to artmaking—to the proliferation of technologies that homogenize American culture today, artists have always been at the forefront of social response. Complex Uncertainties is an evolving exhibition grounded by works in Telfair’s modern and contemporary collection that sheds light on these responses and reveals some of the ways in which historic events challenge artists to explore unknowns, construct narratives, and react to power.

Telfair’s holdings of modern and contemporary art comprise paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, sculptures, and works in new media, representing American artistic achievement from 1945 to the present day. This distinct collection offers a rich and singular institutional story, highlighting artmaking at its most ambitious through strong representative works. It features experimental works that provide clues to artistic transitions, and it boasts uncommon works that enrich our understanding of the history and current complex state of American art.

Complex Uncertainties acknowledges the ever-evolving social, political, and cultural conditions that contemporary artists react to and create within. Through this ongoing installation, visitors can explore the impact of artistic responses to specific historical events, as well as palpably empathize with the growing sense of uncertainty that artists address throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

This exhibition is organized by Telfair Museums and curated by Rachel Reese, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Telfair Museums.