The Plant That Heals May Also Poison is the first major United States exhibition of artist Ree Morton (1936-1977) in nearly four decades. The exhibition features several rarely seen works, including a selection of installations, drawings, sculptures, paintings, and archival materials which span a single decade of artistic production before Morton’s untimely death in 1977.
Ree Morton produced a prescient body of work rich in emotion and philosophically complex. Long celebrated by peers and younger generations, Morton’s influence on contemporary art remains considerable yet muted, her legacy widely underrecognized. Gathered in this exhibition are works produced during her short but prolific career, which span mediums and materials; reimagine tropes of love, friendship, and motherhood; and radically assert sentiment as a legitimate subject of artmaking.
Though the eclectic arc of Morton’s practice was rooted in Postminimalism, a poetic approach to language and symbolism progressively distanced her work from easy categorization. The inclusion of personal narrative—through literary, theoretical, and autobiographical references—and use of bold color and theatrical imagery infused her objects with sly humor and a concern with the decorative, generating a feminist legacy increasingly appreciated in retrospect. Morton’s conceptually rigorous work can seem esoteric at times, yet her intention is ultimately one of generosity towards the viewer, and it is in the spirit of playfulness and joy that this exhibition hopes to expand.
Organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, the exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue co-published with Dancing Foxes Press with texts by Kate Kraczon, the exhibition’s curator; artist Nayland Blake; Kathryn Gile; and scholars Roksana Filipowska and Abi Shapiro.
Ree Morton: The Plant That Heals May Also Poison is organized by The Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, and curated by Kate Kraczon, Curator, David Winton Bell Gallery, Brown University. The ICA LA presentation is organized by Jamillah James, Curator.
The exhibition is supported by the Inchworm Fund, the Edna W. Andrade Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation, Nancy & Leonard Amoroso, Amanda & Andrew Megibow, Norma & Lawrence Reichlin.
ICA LA is supported by its Curator’s Council, Fieldwork, and 1717 Collective.