In December 2022, the innovative artist, activist, writer, and filmmaker John Sims passed away suddenly at his studio in Sarasota. The tragic loss of Sims left a deep impact on the art world. Sims’s art, informed by mathematics, design, sacred symbols, and poetic text, boldly confronted white supremacy, the Confederate flag, and the deep disparities and division within our society. The Ringling is honored to have had the opportunity to work closely with Sims, who was the museum’s artist in residence in 2020.
Shortly before his death, Sims penned a tribute to Abstract Expressionist sculptor John Chamberlain’s former studio site in Sarasota. The essay, along with a video poem by Sims, was featured in the September 2022 issue of Sculpture magazine. Sims finished the essay standing before Chamberlain’s demolished studio, writing “I pour some coffee libation to the ground in memory, in honor and respect for the spaces that bring forth the best evidence of our humanity and capacity to create. Now, I am ready to get to the studio and work on my newest piece.” His newest piece became the sculpture titled From the Chambers. Just weeks before his death, The Ringling acquired From the Chambers and the video poem Lost Chambers directly from Sims.
The exhibition From the Chambers: Honoring John Sims brings those two works together, on view publicly for the first time, in conjunction with John Chamberlain’s sculpture Added Pleasure. The exhibition serves as just one part of the significant legacy the artist leaves behind, in Sarasota and beyond.
From the Chambers: Honoring John Sims is on view May 6 through August 6, 2023 in the Searing East galleries.