America’s history has been faced with 400 years of perseverance starting with the Jamestown Settlement. Taking people from their homelands and placing them in shackles for the sake of sowing land is an old story but continues in other forms of bondage. We hope this exhibit will enlighten our visitors to the plight of African-Americans and other historically and currently marginalized groups.
Nine Gallery35 and four guest artists are showing works which dramatically depict both the struggles and triumphs of oppressed peoples in a variety of media and styles: Cari Clare, Denisha Wright, Pastor Isaac Scott, Jil Novenski, Jody Leight, Kevin H. Maxwell, Maureen Chen, Michael Davis, Pat Gericke, Rick Perez, Thadine Wormly-Herndon, Valerie Lynch, Virginia Asman.
Michael Davis’ oil on canvas, Sharecropper Family circa 1870, was painted from a reproduction of a daguerrotype or other early photographic process. Sharecropping was a form of agriculture that began mainly after the Civil War as an alternative to land grants of 40 acres and a mule in which a landowner allowed a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crops produced on their portion of land. It was widespread in the South but fell out of favor in the mid-20th Century when mechanized farming became the dominant form of agriculture.
Head coverings are prominent in two thought-provoking paintings by Rick Perez—Man in a Hoodie and Woman in a Head Wrap. The hoodie has become an emotionally-charged article of clothing from its still strong association with the wrongful shooting of Trayvon Martin. This portrait of a white man wearing one resonates with some of the many contradictions that characterize our attitudes towards race in this country. A head wrap accentuates the sense of dignity of a proud woman. She looks ahead decisively and purposefully and with a sense of fearlessness in being able to confront the obstacles put in her path.
Learning to Read by Maureen Chen is a calligraphic rendering of two quotations from the autobiography of the leading abolitionist and author Frederick Douglass. As a slave, Douglass overheard his master warning his wife against teaching Douglass to read, which made him more determined to learn on his own.”
Virginia Asman is showing two digital collages—Fabric of Progress featuring heroes of the civil rights movement and The Struggle Continues, incorporating slogans that have inspired various groups as they seek full participation.
This exhibit is also being presented as part of the arts festival of The Community Service Society of New York (CSS)’s 2019 conference, Full Participation is a Human Right—Moving Beyond Punishment, at Community Church, October 17-19.