As Election Day 2016 draws near, popUp Gallery is proud to present a group of artists whose work explores many of the issues that will confront our next President and Congress. Throughout history, artists have depicted the events of their times with courage and graphic clarity. The work in this show is charged with powerful messages that illustrate the passions of each artist and challenge us to consider the implications – and unintended consequences – of our actions upon the world we live in and the lives with whom we share it. As you go to the polls on November 8, look beyond the personalities and think about the policies – be careful what you vote for.
Opening Reception August 6, 2016, 6:00 to 9:00 PM
My art integrates the disparate worlds of fine art and quantitative information, creating images that encourage the viewer to re-interpret the world around us. I explore pages of data that now fill the public realm relating to demographics, religion, ethnic backgrounds, immigration– topics that often define us– and recompose these statistics into works of fine art.
I use simple materials (acrylic paint, graphite pencils, rulers and drafting film) to create complex, information-rich art. My process is labor intensive. Instead of using a computer to generate layouts and designs, I sort through the numbers and graphs, collate information, sketch out designs, and then draft and paint. This allows me to digest the information; the final product not only accurately describes the quantities, but the qualities of the new ‘map’ I have created.
My background as an architect has greatly influenced how I approach art. An architect takes information and translates it into built form. The intent is to make a functional, beautiful object. My art uses this same process, creating images that evoke discourse and insight into our society.
“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” James Madison – from the New York Packet 1788
Growing up in post war Germany, I am sensitive to the rise of populist leaders. Fascist tendencies can slowly undermine a democracy in a time of world wide turmoil and fear. History has shown that charismatic populist leaders can lead to disaster by exploiting fear, spreading lies and bullying opponents.
America may be resistant to a total closing down of its democratic society, but the process of erosion needs to be recognized. Generating scapegoats (Muslims, Immigrants), and run amok internal surveillance systems; threatening journalists, activists and whistle blowers with detention; influencing the judicial system by nominating activist judges; elevating presidential powers, and eroding voting rights are just some of the staples in the fascist work book.
People often ask me, “Where does this stuff come from?” ……always a good question……but not so simple to answer. Certainly my life experience, personality and inclinations all contribute to my choices of what to paint, however, I still find the creative process mysterious.
“You may not be interested in war but war is interested in you” Leon Trotsky
Although turning inward is my first instinct and love, I can’t always stay inside my head and ignore what’s going on in the world. When the circus turns especially ugly or when I get a good idea, I feel the need and responsibility to make some kind of comment. Humor and satire have been my way to deal with serious topics which are often too grim to portray directly. There is always some satisfaction for me in pointing out the absurdities of human behavior and making fun of the villains of the day. I don’t know if this kind of work has any effect on the situation, but at least it has a therapeutic value for me and others of like mind. Many times I’ve heard “thanks for painting a picture of how I feel”. That’s good enough for me.
In past elections, I have sometimes been frustrated, sometimes disappointed, occasionally angry, but I’ve never felt the level of anxiety I’m feeling this year. Fear is a powerful force. We can let it silence us or allow it to motivate us. The choice is ours – so far.
Experience has taught me not to wait silently for somebody to fix things, so I have chosen to let fear push me out of my safe corner, find causes I’m willing to fight for, and vote for candidates who support my causes. It’s hard to pick just one wrong that needs righting, but human rights might be a good place to start. If we can reach the understanding that, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, and a host of other demographic identifiers, we are all human, that would be a good first step.
As a woman who has spent most of my life working in male-dominated fields, personal experience tells me that gender bias still has a very real impact on the lives, liberty and happiness of women and girls around the world. Perhaps Jeannette Rankin, the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress in 1916, said it best: “We’re half the people; we should be half the Congress.”
Fast forward 100 years, women still occupy only about 20 percent of elected offices in this country and even fewer high-level appointed positions. We can do better than that.
“Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
I began this series in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, MO. It is a cathartic response to the recent surge of murders of unarmed African American men by police in the United States. These events forced me to examine my own ideas about “post–racial” America and its promise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for all. After this examination I found myself with two choices: stay ignorant, and believe the illusion that America is and always has been great and democratic; or do some research and discover the ugly truth about the history of white supremacy and institutionalized racism at the roots of American society. This body of work explores the continued effects of that legacy today. It is meant to challenge us as citizens to cultivate discussion, civic engagement and action.
Humans are territorial creatures with a strong need for self-preservation. We are also storytellers and historians who map and catalogue geographic, political, and real estate boundaries. The fact that maps tell only a temporary tale is what makes them most interesting to me.
Modern weapons have evolved from the simplest tools of early man, and many of them are stunning examples of fine machinery and craftsmanship. My interest in guns and maps come from a study in military history, a respect for human invention and an occasional glimpse of morality.
The guns I make are covered with paper maps (vintage and contemporary) and these maps reflect something of the time, place and purpose of the gun. The connections between the map and the gun range from geography alone to the civilizations, tribes and populations that were destroyed by that particular weapon.
The sculptures are made of aluminum sheet and rods, rivets, screws, and paper. They are non-functioning and include rifles, semi automatic guns, and pistols.
My art explores the way in which we engage with our surroundings and the possible consequences our actions have upon the world in which we live. Through my work I attempt to question the rationale of our choices, and try to reveal the dichotomy that may exist between what we desire and what we manifest. Recently my work has focused upon the mechanisms that power our society and examines how they may influence the construct for a possible future.
Born in rural Wisconsin, I worked the fields of the family farm until I was old enough to hire out to local farmers and big agricultural companies. I’ve worked in heavy industry including an iron foundry. Since then I’ve had many day jobs, but have always made art with my heart, mind, and hands.
While working to promote the Occupy movement, I was involved in banner and sticker making. I realized from this experience that I wanted direct contact with social issues in my studio practice, so for the last five years I have been joyfully making art on issues of social justice and past movement heroes.
I work to bring people together with fairly non-confrontational art that helps people explore and question our society. I make this work because I believe art has a strong role to play in shaping our society and culture.
My mixed-media pieces are created from flyers stapled to telephone poles (lost dog, garage sale, etc.). After years of weather, these community billboards become a rusting graveyard of events past. I remove the paper scraps and re-assemble them into graphic structures inlaid with chaotic bits of image, typography, and rust.
Most of the larger scale projects I create are a direct reaction to either personal or shared events. The feeling of isolation created by the internet led to The 1000 Journals Project, a shared artifact network connecting strangers the world over. The rhetoric about what’s good or bad for the economy led to my questioning why we’re not talking about what’s good or bad for people instead. I seek to make people think, consider, and even question their preconceived beliefs.