Embedded Messages, Debating the Dream: Truth, Justice and the American Way
The Art Center in Highland Park, IL
Show opens: March 3rd
Artists included: Sally Edelstein, Karen Gutfreund, Penny Mateer, Sinan Revell, Debra Thompson, Linda Vallejo and Margi Weir
Embedded Messages examines the current polarized political climate in regards to social justice — can we still identify the American dream and if so, who does the dream apply to? In today’s complicated sociopolitical climate, representing both positive and negative aspects of American cultural and economic influence, this exhibition casts a critical eye and is both a reflection and a statement about issues and events on domestic and international affairs focusing on racism, sexism, classicism, sexuality, gender identity, immigration, poverty, the environment, violence, and the ongoing wars. The work, unified by topic and with “embedded messages” running throughout, invites the viewer to look, learn and discuss the inherent meanings. All is not as it appears on the surface. The messages are delivered with irony, humor, pain, defiance and strength, to reflect not only the artist’s diverse personal views and opinions, but to raise critical consciousness to various issues while conveying an underlying philosophy of collective responsibility. Truth, justice and the American way seem to be rapidly fading along with the notion of the American Dream. And American Exceptionalism is riddled with a lot of exceptions. Covering up America’s past injustices presently keep us in a troubling state of denial until we actively confront the barriers of injustice that continue to impede full participation in the American Dream for many who feel disenfranchised.
The multi-cultural group of artists addresses hot-button issues, particularly important as we move into an election year. The subject matter of the works are artfully broached either directly or indirectly and provide historical reference, intellectual consideration on topics relevant to all residents. Many of the works speak directly to people from multi-cultural communities and background and address both gender, culture, race, and social issues and that includes domestic violence, immigration, human trafficking, LGTB rights as well as civil rights and social justice. With polarized political parties and the absurdity of the news media focusing on sound bites with biased editorials rather than real news, this collection of art addresses issues of social justice to stimulate dialog on truth, justice and the American Way. NYC is politically and culturally formed by a history awash with political activism, urban and community struggles. It is all the more apparent as the New York area embraces and faces challenges including but not limited to homelessness, racial marginalization, gentrification, income disparity and urban growth.
This multi-media exhibition (2D, installation, sculpture, book arts) from seven women artists feature a large, cohesive body of work. The works in this exhibition speak volumes and question the traditional boundaries and hierarchies of culture as represented by those in power. Although each artist’s specific approach and goals are distinct, their works, especially experienced together will incite viewers to become participants as they explore the embedded messages that stimulate critical thinking and open their pathway to potential answers and solutions.
Programming and a catalog accompanies this exhibition.
Embedded Messages, Debating the Dream: Truth, Justice and the American Way, The Huffington Post, by Amy Pleasant, February 17, 2017