The Last Laugh: Selections from Michael Aurbach’s Secrecy Series

Michael Aurbach
American, b. 1952
Administrative Trial and Error (detail), 2008
Mixed media
8' x 8' x 12'
Courtesy Michael Aurbach

(January 14 – March 3, 2016)

This exhibition is presented in honor of Michael Aurbach, who will retire in 2016 after thirty years of teaching sculpture and drawing in the Department of Art at Vanderbilt University. Early in Aurbach’s career, his work centered on issues of death, identity, and socially disenfranchised groups. The Last Laugh features three sculptures from his more recent Secrecy Series, an artistic commentary on individuals’ use and abuse of power. The artworks are characteristically imbued with wit and satire, each large-scale sculpture a kind of stage. In that way, Aurbach suggests that those leading the institutions to which the works point are bad actors in a dark and laughable play. The exhibition includes Administrative Trial and Error(2008), Administrative Spectacle (2013), and the newly completed Cassandra (2016).

Aurbach has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards from institutions including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Southern Arts Federation, and Art Matters, Inc. He has exhibited widely, with more than sixty solo shows at locations such as the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, New York, the Indianapolis Art Center, and the Artemisia Gallery, Chicago. In 2001, his sculpture was included in the inaugural contemporary art exhibition at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2015, Aurbach was awarded the Southeastern College Art Conference’s President’s Award for Exemplary Achievement, their highest honor in recognition of significant personal and artistic development as well as long-standing service.

The Last Laugh: Selections from Michael Aurbach’s Secrecy Series is organized by the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery and supported, in part, by the Department of Art.