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Ed Mcgowin

Name Change: One Artist, Twelve Personas, Thirty Five Years

The Name Change project was started in 1970 to explore a theory I conceived about the way art history would evolve in the future. I developed this theory as a means of freeing myself from a system that I found frustrating as a young artist at the beginning of my career: that my work should develop as a linear chain-link model with each creation leading logically to the next. Instead, I preferred to envision my work as a three-dimensional sphere getting larger over time. To demonstrate this theory I had my name changed legally twelve times in the District of Columbia court system. For each name I created works of art and exhibited them at the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1972. For the past thirty-five years I have continued to create works for the twelve names. This catalogue is about that work.

Had I created all of these works under one name, I believe they would have been received very differently, with critical analysis of the development of the artist figuring prominently in the consideration of each piece. The different identities under which I made this art may allow for a broader approach to receiving these imgs, without tying them to past history or future expectations.

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