Tony Lewis selected for Rose Art Museum’s Perlmutter Artist-in-Residence Award

. October 5, 2017

(Waltham, MA) – The Rose Art Museum is pleased to name Chicago-based Tony Lewis as the recipient of the 2017-2018 Ruth Ann and Nathan Perlmutter Artist-in-Residence Award. For his Perlmutter residency, Lewis will create a new site-specific mural for the outward-facing wall of the museum’s Lois Foster Wing. This work, entitled Plunder, grows out of his ongoing investigations of the relationships between drawing, abstraction, and language.

The artist’s first solo museum presentation in the Northeast, Lewis’s mural will be created on site October 8–13 with assistance from Brandeis University students. The installation will be on view October 15, 2017 through June 10, 2018, with an opening celebration of Lewis’s project and the Rose Art Museum’s fall exhibitions on Saturday, October 14, 2017, from 6-9pm.

Drilling screws into the wall and stretching graphite-dipped rubber bands in between, Lewis will create a large line drawing in the form of a Gregg shorthand notation, the stenographic script similar to abbreviated cursive. Rising in loose arcs across the expanse of the Foster wall, this line is an abstracted symbol of the word “plunder,” from which the work takes its name. Lewis’s focus on this term follows his reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 2015 book Between the World and Me. As Coates writes: “The plunder of black life was drilled into this country in its infancy and reinforced across its history, so that plunder has become an heirloom, an intelligence, a sentience, a default setting to which, likely to the end of our days, we must invariably return.”

Lewis’s laborious process anchors this word into the museum’s architectural support, rendering a solid and sooty gash in a dense web of rubber bands and metallic screws. Despite the destructive bent of the word it denotes, however, this shorthand form lifts in an elegant, and seemingly optimistic, rise. Imbued with nuanced political overtones, Lewis’ work ruminates on a vocabulary of abstraction: both the connections between symbol and meaning, and the systems of power that are equally revealed and disguised by language.

Established through the generosity of Ruth Ann Perlmutter and given in recognition of an emerging artist’s achievement, the Perlmutter Award will support Lewis’ residency on campus, allowing Brandeis University students to work closely with an artist on the cusp of greater acclaim.

“We thank Ruth Ann Perlmutter for her generous support of the Rose and for enabling us to bring Tony Lewis to Brandeis this year,” said Luis Croquer, the Henry and Lois Foster Director of the Rose. “The Perlmutter Award allows the Rose to promote and explore the work of artists poised to have a lasting impact in their field. Lewis’s residency and work promises to have especial resonance within our university community, where interdisciplinary dialogues about race and power are, given our political context, now more critical than ever.”

The Ruth Ann and Nathan Perlmutter Artist-in-Residence Award is part of the Rose’s longstanding tradition of promoting young artists. Honorees include Roxy Paine (2002), Barry McGee (2004), Xavier Veilhan (2005), Dana Schutz (2006), Clare Rojas (2007), Alexis Rockman (2008), Michael Dowling (2009-10), Sam Jury (2011), Dor Guez (2012), Mika Rottenberg (2013-2014), Mary Weatherford (2015), JJ PEET (2016), and Jennie C. Jones (2017).

Nathan Perlmutter served as national director of the Anti-Defamation League for eight years. Along with his wife, Ruth Ann, he championed the interfaith movement and sought to empower Jews, blacks and other minorities. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House in 1987, shortly before his death. He was a vice president at Brandeis from 1969-73. Ruth Ann, who has degrees from the University of Denver and Wayne State University, is a noted sculptor and painter.

Tony Lewis was born in 1986 in Los Angeles, and lives and works in Chicago. Recent solo exhibitions include: Alms, Comity and Plunder, Museo Marino Marini, Florence, Italy (2016); free movement nomenclature pressure weight, Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, OH (2015); and 48  Keep a tight rein on your temper, The Bindery Projects, Saint Paul, MN (2013). His work has been included in museum group exhibitions including: Speech/Acts at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (2017); The Gap Between the Fridge and the Cooker, The Modern Institute, Glasgow, UK (2016); The Revolution Will Not be Gray, Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO (2016); Walls and Words, Museum of Eldridge Street, New York, NY (2014); LUMP Projects, organized by John Neff, Raleigh, NC (2013); People of Color, Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, IL (2012); and Ground Floor, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL (2012).

Lewis participated in the 2014 iteration of the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.


Founded in 1961, The Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University is among the nation’s premier university museums dedicated to collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting modern and contemporary art. A center of cultural and intellectual life on campus, the Museum serves as a catalyst for the exchange of ideas: a place of discovery, intersection, and dialogue at the university and within the Greater Boston community. Through its collection, exhibitions, and programs, the Rose works to affirm and advance the values of social justice, freedom of expression, global diversity, and academic excellence that are hallmarks of Brandeis University. Postwar American and international contemporary art are particularly well represented within the Rose’s renowned permanent collection of more than 9,000 objects.

For more information, visit or call 781-736-3434.

Tony Lewis, Courtesy of Massimo De Carlo Milan:London:Hong Kong

Category: Museum News

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