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State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now presents a snapshot of the unusually diverse and nuanced range of artwork created by contemporary artists living in America today. Originally developed and organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Telfair Museums is thrilled to share a portion of this landmark exhibition with our audiences.

Lenka Clayton, (b.1977), 63 Objects Taken Out of My Son’s Mouth, 2011‑2012; acorn, bolt, bubblegum, buttons, carbon paper, chalk, Christmas decoration, cigarette butt, coins (GBP, USD, EURO), cotton reel, holly leaf, little wooden man, sharp metal pieces, metro ticket, nuts, plastic “O”, polystyrene, rat poison (missing), seeds, slide, small rocks, specimen vial, sponge animal, sticks, teabag, wire caps, and wooden block as laid out: 1 × 36 × 36 in.; courtesy Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas; photo: Tom Little.

The works presented in State of the Art are created by working artists who strive to find innovative ways to engage and connect with viewers on a personal level. Telfair Museums presents 40 of the original 102 exhibiting artists, who were selected by the Crystal Bridges curatorial team through an ambitious yearlong research process that involved traveling 100,000 miles and visiting nearly 1,000 artists’ studios.

The artwork on view in our galleries exemplifies a variety and depth to the processes, media, and content that artists explore today. Many of the artists on view will be new to audiences, spotlighting a goal of this exhibition: to identify and offer a platform to meaningful contemporary artists not otherwise known on a national level. State of the Art affirms that artists live and work all across the US, not solely in recognized metropolitan art centers. The exhibition includes artists from communities large and small and from every region in the country, bringing with them a diverse range of ages, experiences, and conceptual approaches that allow local audiences to interpret, understand, and connect contemporary art with issues we all share.

State of the Art examines how today’s artists are informed by the past, innovate with materials old and new, and engage deeply with issues relevant to our communities, demonstrating that art of the moment can offer new and important perspectives in contemporary dialogue. At its core, this exhibition asserts that contemporary art is a powerful and meaningful form of communication that effectively reflects the time and place in which it was made.

State of the Art is organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas and accompanied by an award-winning catalog.

Related Programming

All events are at the Jepson Center.


State of the Art Opening Lecture by Susie J. Lee and Reception
Thursday, February 18
Lecture:  6pm
Reception: 7-9pm
Members free | non-members $12

Enjoy a lecture by Seattle-based video artist Susie J. Lee, whose work in State of the Art adds a new dimension to the ancient art of portraiture. She asks her subjects—workers in the oil and natural gas “fracking” industry in her native North Dakota—to sit silently for her video camera for up to 30 minutes at a time. The videos can cause you to feel uncomfortable— even voyeuristic—but also create a powerful awareness of shared humanity and empathy. Recognized as Emerging Artist of the Year for the “intelligence, emotion and sensuality” of her work, Lee was also named an “Artist to Watch” by ARTnews. Her work has been exhibited and commissioned in the US and abroad, in such venues as the Mitchell Center for the Arts, Denver Art Museum, Frye Art Museum, Blanton Museum, Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, and other notable public collections.


State of the Art Lecture by Vanessa German
Thursday, March 31 | 6pm
Members free | non-members $12

Described by the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art as a “force of nature,” Vanessa German creates compelling works that invoke the power to protect children endangered by circumstance and location. Her “power figures” feature accumulations of found objects that decorate black figures she constructs from dolls and found objects, and imbues with beauty and magic. German is a vigorous advocate for children in her Pittsburgh neighborhood, creating safe spaces for art-making amid violence and danger. She launched Art House in a formerly derelict HUD home to offer children the opportunity to create beauty and build self-esteem. German, a sculptor, actress, performer and educator, has also pioneered a performance style called Spoken Word opera. Don’t miss this vital and amazing artist!


State of the Art: Savannah Weekend!
Come out and support Savannah’s local artists in a weekend of fun including a presentation of videos exploring the local art scene by Telfair’s Teen Council and a Mega Art March through downtown and midtown Savannah by Art Rise and community partners. Come back Saturday for a Free Family Day featuring demonstrations and performances by local visual and performing artists.


Mega Art March in partnership with Art Rise Savannah
Friday, May 6 | 5-9 pm
Jepson Center and throughout Savannah
Free and open to the public.


Free Family Day
Saturday, May 7, 1–4pm


State of the Art: Savannah Style
Saturday, April 30 | 7-10pm
Members $30 | non-members $40 | VIP $85
Advanced ticketing only. Tickets are limited.

Telfair is proud to showcase some of Savannah’s finest fashion designers—Brooke Atwood, Merline Labissiere, and Meredith Sutton—as they join forces to create a stunning fashion show highlighting the contemporary styles of Savannah. In celebration of State of the Art, guests will have an opportunity to explore the exhibition, browse the designers’ pop-up shops, and enjoy the fashion show.

Sponsored by Brooke Atwood Design, Merline Labissiere, Meredith Anne Sutton, Rise Models, and 40 Volume Salon and Spa.


State of the Art Lecture by Jonathan Schipper
Tuesday, May 17 | 6pm
Members free / non-members $5

When asked about his work, artist Jonathan Schipper notes that it “often derives elements from popular media culture, but then transforms them. I alter these elements into something that returns media to a live, irreproducible experience. I am interested in making objects that, like a roller coaster, are beautiful and interesting through media but need to be experienced to be truly understood.”


Special Artist Membership Campaign!
In celebration of the talented art community in Savannah, Telfair Museums is excited to offer reduced membership pricing for artists and makers throughout the duration of State of the Art. Artist members enjoy invitations to special members-only events, discounts on art classes and at the museum stores, Telfair Magazine in the mail, one free guest pass, eligibility to join museum member groups, and exclusive offers and discounts on ticketed special events, films, and lectures. The artist membership price will be decreased from $35 to $20 for both new and renewing members. Artists may apply online or at any of our museum front desks and should include a brief artist statement with the application.

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