Wednesday, June 2, 2010

City of Strangers

City of Strangers #1; 2009; oil and collage on monotype; 16.625" x 13.375"

City of Strangers #2; 2010; oil and collage on monotype; 15.5" x 13.25"

City of Strangers: Icarus Falls Into the City; 2010; oil on paper; 30" x 22.25"

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Geographies of Displacement

Untitled Study; 2010; oil on paper; 11.25" x 15"

The Look Back; 2010; oil on panel; 48" x 48"

Housing Project; 2009; 15" x 22"; oil and collage on monotype

The Flood; 2009; 18" x 24"; oil on monotype

The Geographies of Displacement: New Work

Last year, angered by the position of the political right on immigration policy and the building of a fence along the U.S. border with Mexico, I began a series of works on paper that I titled collectively Cities and Walls. The works covered a wider range of subjects than just border issues, generally dealing with people on the move for various reasons and with government systems of control. I first did work on this matter in 1984 and 85 when I participated in groups sheltering and advocating for refugees from the civil war in El Salvador, but I left it to get involved in public art and public space projects and have only now returned to it.

In public art we talked so much of making place, trying to give places a sense of identity and resonance through design and often by drawing upon their histories for a sense of continuity. It seems to me now that a broader dynamic at work in the world is the loss of place. Working to give a jeopardized urban neighborhood a public space around which it can regroup and rebuild is an important act. It pales in realization of the enormity of the circumstances in which people have no place in which to even consider rebuilding. Here I refer to well-known situations where hundreds of thousands, even millions of people have been displaced by warfare which consumed their homes, but also to those situations in Bangladesh or some Pacific islands, for example, where environmental change is displacing people who find that their neighbors are unwilling to make room for them. Or, thinking in a completely different direction, displacement, loss of habitat, accounts for the largest share of species loss in the natural environment.

This spring Sylvia Watanabe and Bernard Matambo, two faculty members of the Creative Writing Program at Oberlin College, taught a class and, along with an interdisciplinary group of colleagues, organized a symposium both titled Geographies of Displacement. The idea that one could speak of geographies of displacement presented a flash of clarification for me. I always thought that my pieces had locations in a broad sense and, of course, one way to speak of locations in a broad sense is geography. To see that the displacements constituting the subject matter of my work can be linked through the association with geographies provides a thread that I can run from them through future works.

Thanks to the generous consent of Sylvia and Bernard, The Geographies of Displacement is the title of this exhibition, as well as the collective title for this body of work.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Geographies of Displacement: Additional Works

Landscape with Water, Sleeping Village and Refugees Passing in the Night; 2008; 22" x 15"; oil, silkscreen and collage on monoprint

Wall Rising; 2008; 15" x 22.5"; oil, silkscreen and collage on monoprint

Night Runners and Border Patrol; 2008; 22" x 15"oil and silkscreen on monoprint

Territories and Walls; 2008; 22" x 15"oil, silkscreen and collage on monoprint

Migrating with the Muse: Dream City; 2008; 22" x 15"oil, silkscreen and collage on monoprint

These works were produced at Zygote Press in the summer of 2008 and shown there in a one-person exhibition titled Cities and Walls.

Public-Private; an exhibition at the Wm. Busta Gallery; Cleveland, OH; 2008

The works in this exhibition extended my return to the figure as a central element in the images and constituted a transition from what I had come to think of as an over-reliance on the digitally constructed image to an increased use of hand-working with paint. The subject matter and the method are essentially collage, the scenes imagined, but originating in my sense of what is both the private experience of urban space and the changing public nature of urban spaces.

Works illustrated top to bottom:
Street Scene in Sunlight, Figures Dissolving; 2007-08; 60.5"x91"
Street Scene, The Walker; 2008; 29"x41"
Three images from the Abstract City series; 2005-08; each 7.5"x7.5"

Theories of Public Space; Weston Gallery; Cincinnati, OH; 2002

Theories of Public Space was an installation based upon a number of my artist's books that deal with the social and physical nature of urban public space. The Weston Gallery itself is a public space as part of the Aronoff Center for the Arts in downtown Cincinnati with the gallery atrium, where this installation was created, also serving as a reception area for theater events.

The installation consisted of four parts: Sitting Room, Reading Room, Viewing Room and Windows. The pages of the artist's book Theories of Public Space were enlarged and installed on the atrium windows.

Exhibition dates were November 22, 2002 to January 18, 2003.

Books from Theories of Public Space Exhibition

Top to bottom: Theories of Public Space, In-Fill City and The Many Things. Theories of Public Space has text that is read one letter per page spelling the words everyone, each one, someone, anyone and no one. The pages of the book were enlarged as DuroTrans transparencies and mounted to the gallery windows as part of the installation.