Rodney McMillian is among the 63 artists included in the Whitney Biennial 2022: Quiet as It’s Kept, on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, from April 6 through September 5, 2022. For the Whitney Biennial 2022, the artist conceived of this column specifically for the Whitney's central stairwell. "I don't think of it as a painting," he has said, "so much as an object that incorporates painting. It could also be called a portal." McMillian has further described his work as being heavily engaged with landscape: "I think my interest in it comes from my interest in the political and social realities that I've always existed within. The history of South Carolina, the first state to secede, was one of the first histories I encountered and learned as a child. I've learned and keep learning about American landscape history, painting history, laws and policies, how people choose to live within and on the land, how people profit from it, its previous uses. All of this has informed why I find it to be such a rich vehicle for conversation."
Rather than offering a unified theme, the co-curators of the Whitney Biennial 2022: Quiet as It’s Kept pursue a series of hunches throughout the exhibition: that abstraction demonstrates a tremendous capacity to create, share, and sometimes withhold meaning; that research-driven conceptual art can combine the lushness of ideas and materiality; that personal narratives sifted through political, literary, and pop cultures can address larger social frameworks; that artworks can complicate the meaning of "American" by addressing the country’s physical and psychological boundaries; and that our present moment can be reimagined by engaging with under-recognized artistic models and artists we have lost. Deliberately intergenerational and interdisciplinary, this Biennial proposes that cultural, aesthetic, and political possibility begins with meaningful exchange and reciprocity.
The Whitney Biennial was established to chart developments in art of the United States. Now in its eightieth edition, it is the longest-running exhibition of its kind. The Whitney Biennial 2022: Quiet as It’s Kept is co-organized by David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Initiatives at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Adrienne Edwards, Engell Speyer Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs, with Gabriel Almeida Baroja, Curatorial Project Assistant, and Margaret Kross, former Senior Curatorial Assistant. The Whitney Biennial 2022 is accompanied by a catalogue.