Taft Museum of Art Features New Works by Terence Hammonds in Universal Magnetic

Taft Museum of Art Features New Works by Terence Hammonds in Universal Magnetic

Solo exhibition memorializes and recontextualizes racial identity, February 16– June 4, 2023

CINCINNATI, OHFebruary 2, 2022—The Taft Museum of Art presents Universal Magnetic, a solo show featuring new work by Cincinnati-based artist Terence Hammonds February 16June 4, 2023. This special exhibition showcases collages and ceramic works that recontextualize historical images and motifs to memorialize Black figures in United States history. 

The exhibition derives its title from rapper and activist Yasiin Bey’s (formerly known as Mos Def) 1997 single of the same name. For Hammonds, who has a deep connection to soul, funk, rap, and punk music, the use of “Universal Magnetic” refers to the reverberation of love and the determination throughout history to seek positive change: “Love is sometimes radical, sometimes quiet, sometimes defiant, and sometimes all these things at once.” 

During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, African Americans redoubled their long fight for equality. Their struggles and determination inspired Hammonds to create the paper collages and ceramic works in Universal Magnetic. His paper collages incorporate illustrations of celestial bodies with images of Black figures cut from vintage magazines, such as LifeJet, and Ebony, to create scenes that are simultaneously nostalgic and futuristic. He also recontextualizes the figures by removing them from scenes of pain and suffering and inserting them into spaces that celebrate joy and hope. Works in the exhibition such as Hope and Keys reimagine the backdrops of violent and turbulent historical events and replace them with flowers, stars, and moons to represent new opportunities and possibilities for the future. 

Several of Hammonds’s works are also a nod to the Chinese porcelains found in the Taft Museum of Art’s permanent collection. This can be seen in his collages such as The Collector, which directly features pieces from the Taft collection. Too, Hammonds’s vessels take inspiration from the ware’s shapes and blue and white hues. Works such as Peace to Us, Collectively and Hold Your Head When the Beat Drops can be found throughout the Taft historic house alongside the museum’s works.

Hammonds began his printmaking career at Clay Street Press before earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University in Boston. Prior to his current role as an instructor at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, he worked at Rookwood Pottery, a local ceramics company. While at Rookwood, Hammonds’s work was selected for State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now, an exhibition organized by the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Locally, he has had solo shows at the Weston Art Gallery, Clay Street Press, and Aisle Gallery. He also served as an artist-in-residence at The Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China (2016), the Ifö Center in Bromölla, Sweden (2019), and the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati (2020). Hammonds’s work is in the permanent collections of the Cincinnati Art Museum, the 21c Museum Hotel, and the Newark Museum of Art. His work has even garnered the attention of Hollywood actress Jamie Lee Curtis (known for Halloween and other films). She bought several pieces of his work from the 2017 group art show, UnFunction at the Weston Art Gallery.

Universal Magnetic will be on view beginning February 16, 2023 with an Opening Night & Artist Talk. Admission for this special exhibition and opening night is free for Taft members, guests of members with a guest pass, military, youth (18 and under); $12 for adults; $10 for seniors. Non-members save $2 by purchasing tickets online. As part of the 2023 National Council on 
Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) tour, admission is also free for conference attendees. For more information, visit taftmuseum.org/Exhibitions/Magnetic.


Exhibition support is generously provided by the Ellen and George Rieveschl Endowment, the Warrington Exhibition Endowment, the Chellgren Family Endowment, and the Sallie Robinson Wadsworth Endowment for Exhibitions. 

Operating support is provided by the museum’s season funders ArtsWave, the Ohio Arts Council, the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. Foundation, and The H.B., E.W., and F.R. Luther Charitable Foundation, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee; the Western & Southern Financial Fund enables the museum to offer free admission on Sundays.

About the Taft Museum of Art

Tucked away in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, the Taft Museum of Art is a living landmark where art and history are everywhere you look. Built around 1820 as a private home for several of Cincinnati’s most prominent citizens, the Taft Museum of Art is now an art museum which holds National Historic Landmark status for its historic house and Duncanson murals. 


Throughout our campus, guests can enjoy special exhibitions, the secluded outdoor garden, our Museum Shop and Lindner Family Café, events and programming for all ages, and complimentary on-site parking. It is all at the Taft Museum of Art, culminating in a one-of-a-kind, multi-sensory experience that puts you at the center of art and history. For more information, visit taftmuseum.org.


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