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Columbus Museum of Art presents LA Woman: The Photographs of Kali

The Columbus Museum of Art will present LA Woman: The Photographs of Kali, the first museum exhibition of the work of Kali, the recently discovered photographer from the 1960s. LA Woman, which will be on view from September 10, 2022, to March 12, 2023, features more than 50 vintage and contemporary prints by the artist. The Columbus presentation coincides with a major new publication on Kali from powerHouse Books, designed by designers Sam Shahid and Matthew Kraus of Shahid / Kraus & Company, with a lead essay by noted documentary filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer. The exhibition opens only a year after Kali’s posthumous debut which garnered international attention including a show at Staley-Wise Gallery in New York (click here to view), and numerous articles in important publications on the discovery.  

“The Columbus Museum of Art is very proud to present the first museum exhibition of Kali’s work," said Nannette V. Maciejunes, CMA Executive Director and CEO. “The discovery of a new artistic voice, particularly one that was overlooked during the artist’s own lifetime, is particularly exciting.  Kali was not only a talented photographer; she also was an early practitioner of experimental and alternative photography with which we are so familiar today. We also are pleased to be the first art museum to acquire works by the artist.”  

Born Joan Marie Yarusso on Long Island, Kali was interested in art from early childhood. Her nascent interest was encouraged by her stepfather, who introduced her to community art programs and art museums where she developed a love of the Old Masters. Though primarily self-taught, Kali attended the New York School of Painting and later the College of the Desert in Palm Springs. She married young (becoming Joan Archibald) and soon became the mother of two. In the summer of 1962 at the age of 30, she reinvented herself, abandoning her life as a Long Island housewife and mother, and like many of her contemporaries headed to California and a new life.

It was here she rechristened herself Kali after the Hindu goddess of time, doomsday, and death. As her daughter Susan explained many years later, “My mom needed to expand herself. “   After a flurry of public recognition in the early 1970s, Kali inexplicably receded to the shadows, yet continued to create art privately through the mid-2000s. When she died in 2019, she left behind a hidden archive of photos, astonishingly encapsulating a bygone dazed, psychedelic, hippie L.A. Her creative output falls into three distinctive bodies of work – an initial burst of experimentation which she named Artography since they were a distinct combination of painting and photography, often treated with spray paints and a variety of natural elements; an overlapping investigation of Polaroid photography, often layering landscape and portraiture onto one another in a single image; and a much later fascination with charting UFOs and other paranormal light phenomena.  

Following her mother’s death, her daughter Susan Archibald discovered nearly 800 Artography prints in her mother's Pacific Palisades home in sealed boxes in closets, hundreds of Polaroids, and dozens of rolls of undeveloped 35 mm film. “It sat unseen, in great heaps, hidden in white Samsonite suitcases, for decades. The discovery of the work, all at once, and almost all of it never seen, is remarkable, and a distinguishing feature.” notes Matt Tyrnauer, “It’s the Vivian Maier effect, after the seemingly ordinary nanny who also gained posthumous renown after leaving behind a massive trove of remarkable work.”

The exhibition is organized by the Columbus Museum of Art in collaboration with the artist’s estate. The show is co-curated by Nannette Maciejunes, CMA Executive Director and CEO, Tyler Cann, CMA’s Pizzuti Family Curator of Contemporary Art and Acting Chief Curator, and photographer Len Prince. A national tour of the exhibition with Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, California, follows the show in Columbus. 

About Columbus Museum of Art 

CMA is where creativity and the daily life of its community intersect and thrive, as the Museum champions new and different ways of thinking and doing. CMA celebrates the creative process and sets the stage for people to experience art, ideas and relationships that spark creativity and nurture collective, courageous imagination.

CMA’s collection includes outstanding late 19th- and early 20th-century American and European modern works of art, grounded in the Ferdinand Howald and the Howard D. and Babette L. Sirak Collections. The Museum houses the world’s largest collections of works by beloved Columbus-connected artists Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, Elijah Pierce and George Bellows; and acclaimed collections such as The Photo League and the Philip and Suzanne Schiller Collection of American Social Commentary Art. The recently established Scantland Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art also continues CMA’s dedication to showcasing the art of our time.

The Greater Columbus Arts Council, Nationwide Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, and the Paul-Henri Bourguignon and Erika Bourguignon Fund for Visual Arts and Richard H. and Ann Shafer funds with the assistance of the Ingram-White Castle Foundation of The Columbus Foundation provide ongoing support. CMA, Schokko Café and the Museum Store are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Tickets and updates are available
at and through CMA’s social media channels @columbusmuseum.

Click here to see Kali’s 2021 exhibition at Staley-Wise Gallery.

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