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Subverting Play in the Museum’s Permanent Collection


AUGUST 6 — OCTOBER  24, 2021

Spaces of play take many forms. While virtual gaming offers an increasingly immersive experience, sports and games that are played “IRL” live on. For players of all ages the skill of using these tools for play requires steadfast practice, but those who stick with it are rewarded with feelings of accomplishment and enjoyment.

Objects used in games are so deeply intertwined in our lives that they become familiar and docile, like loyal friends who wait for our call to go play. But what happens when the baseball bat is warped and off-center, or the ball leaves the game for a different vocation, such as drag racing? Through the minds and hands of artists, fun and games can also provide a powerful way to introduce uncomfortable truths, such as the destructive impact of war on children or the ways sports can be used to convey racial microaggressions.

These works are simultaneously fun and subversive. With deceptive humor and cheery aesthetics, they remind us that play is not only a pastime, but a way of learning how to cope in a sometimes difficult and unpredictable world.