Intersection of data and humanity examined in new museum exhibition

Measure is a verb that means to use standards to ascertain the size or amount of a thing. It's also a noun which can refer to a less-fixed discernment of quality.

Both meanings get a hearing in the Columbus Museum of Art's “A Measure of Humanity” exhibition, which continues through September and includes 22 works dating from the 1960s to the past couple years.

“The idea crystalized after the most recent [national] election. It was a time when a lot of graphs and charts were being used that were segmenting the country into colors,” said exhibition curator Tyler Cann, the CMA's head of exhibitions and curator of contemporary art. “It got me thinking about all the data that's been generated about us as people, and how it's used to target and sometimes divide.”

While Tim Rietenbach, Richard Ibghy and Marilou Lemmens appear to offer work inspired by the regimented or mathematic, other works, including, for example, Mel Bochner's “Measurement Plants” and Lenka Clayton's “The Distance I Can Be from My Son,” engage the viewer directly.

“If you think of the title as describing something fundamentally human, what we need right now is indeed a measure of humanity,” Cann said.