CURE/RATED: BIGOTRY, A SOCIETAL CANCER
Exhibition OverviewReflect, 2018
The United States of America, along with the rest of the world, is experiencing political and economic turmoil. If those are the symptoms of a broken system, the diagnosis or underlying problem is bigotry, a societal cancer.
Bigotry, which includes but is not limited to sexism, racism, homophobia, and xenophobia, negatively impacts society the way cancer harms the human body. What may start out as an ideology among an individual, or small group of people, can quickly infiltrate a nation similar to the way malignant tumours metastasize to other parts of the body. At times, it is advantageous to just remove or excise the problem. Other times, when the cancer has spread too deep, it is better to target everything at once. One way to target a wider audience in treating this systemic issue is through awareness and education. The 11 artists featured in this group show capture the emotions and tensions that have permeated much of our society. Their messages and energies are reflected in these works.
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AMIR H. FALLAH
Amir H. Fallah creates paintings, sculptures, and installations that utilise personal history as an entry point to discuss race, representation, the body, and the memories of cultures and countries left behind. Fallah wryly incorporates Western art historical references into paintings formally rooted in the pattern-based visual language of Islamic Art. In doing so, his paintings possess a hybridity that reflects his own background as an Iranian-American immigrant straddling cultures.
Amir H. FallahAncestors 4
"This piece is from a body of work where I purchased the belongings of a family whom I had never met from an estate sale.
I created a set of fictional veiled portraits of various family members based on my findings. As I had never seen what these members looked like, these figures were completely conjured up based on my research. "
Carlson Hatton is a Los Angeles based painter and arts educator. His psychologically charged paintings explore the many layers that constitute daily life. Hatton filters through advertising, art history and documentation of daily life to create imagery that is highly saturated, densely layered and designed to be deciphered and discovered.
"I find the exhibition theme to be very relevant and I really appreciate the comparison of bigotry, in its various forms, to a cancer that takes over the organism. The fact that both curators are medical physicians adds another level of understanding to how sickness, if left undiagnosed, can fester and spread. On a global scale we hear daily reports about the rise of bigotry that plays out through larger social structures. This reminds me of an allegory comparing institutionalized racism to a conveyer belt which needs to be questioned; the surface needs to be pulled up to understand the mechanism that transports us and is largely accepted. I’m interested in how the exhibition description brings bigotry down to a cellular level that begins within the individual and grows outward to larger systems.
As an artists I’m fascinated in medical and phycological descriptions that make some sense in how they manifest themselves but are not something that can be easily described visually. My artwork strives to harness the energy of those invisible forces that shape our worlds in ways that can’t be traced back to the origin or elude common sense. This can include beauty, but it can also include the darkness of unconscious bias, the influence of media, and fear of that which seems foreign."
- Carlson Hatton
Katelyn LedfordLife Ain't a Picnic, 2021Acrylic, oil, gouache, and molding paste on canvas over panel.
80 x 63.5 cm
31 1/2 x 25 in
Katelyn Ledford’s work is a consideration of the role of images in shaping the curated portrait of women at large and individually while reflecting on the complex and often painful reality of what it means to be a woman and artist. She uses appropriated images sourced from historical paintings, television shows, social media, and fever dreams while contrasting them against improvisational symbols and shapes in order to create deconstructed portraits.
"Bigotry and its effects manifest in different forms, so to see how other artists approach the topic and react to it is a powerful message for everyone during these extraordinary tumultuous times. Art has always been a unifier and voice for the marginalised so I know this exhibition will show the strength among us all."
LINDSEY KIRCHERClear Vision, 2020
Lindsey Kircher portrays resilient female protagonists empowered by the landscape that they inhabit. Acting as mythological self-portraits, the women in her work engage in an introspective journey of truth-seeking and becoming. While the radiant luminosity suggests that these women are deeply intertwined with the primordial origins of nature, it also suggests that they are not of this world.
"The work I have included in this show, Clear Vision, expresses resilience and celebrates femininity. The female figure in this work cleanses herself with her tears, growing through the pain and sadness that she experiences. She embraces the capability of her strong and sensual body. Through this period of societal unraveling, this metaphorical self-portrait represents a determination to awaken through our tears towards a clearer vision of the future. "
- Lindsey Kircher
Brian RobertsonThe Tiny Teacup Meets the Big Black Mass, 2017
Within the hyper-specific lies the universal.
It is from this ethos that Brian Robertson takes thoughts, images, and narratives from inside himself and translates them into painting, forming a kind of surreal investigation of self within each piece. Far from solipsistic, Robertson records and translates these intimate and vulnerable parts of himself into a painting in order to share them, in the hopes that the viewer can take that act of unguardedness and mimic it themselves, opening up a space from which mutual self-discovery and communication can occur.
Christian BermanAmerican Dream (Trickle Down), 2021
Christian Berman is interested in envisioning new ways to continue the tradition of Mexican and magical realist painting, as well as finding hopeful and joyful means of defining the immigrant experience.
"This piece speaks about both the allure and also the unattainability of the classic "american dream." A brown hand, possibly symbolizing the immigrant who has "made it".
Are the pearls a genuine path to wealth? Or are they bait for a trap?
America is present as an abstracted avatar, both the stage for the scene and also the central figure in the work.
Are we the hand, in control of our destiny? Or are we the mice? "
ChainedA Poem by Christian Berman
Flesh of my flesh
bone of my bones
Who said that?
A backwoods pharaoh
or Mississippi mechanic,
fixing the body,
mending the broken axle.
The whites of my eyes
are just saucers licked clean
of life without the iris
of depth without the pupil.
Do you know what matters,
but also what’s needed?
What is as much of love
as the scarred bark
that makes possible
my green growing?
What is as much
a part of my home
as the love of my
Only now, together clasped
in the breaking night
can we say it,
what has always been felt
but is never uttered,
that we are a puzzle
waiting to solve itself,
that we are chains
bound by chains
of fear and of doubt,
a tangled mess of nooses
and deliberate unknowing.
Jacob Hicks is currently creating a series of female icons in a project called 100 Women, started in 2016 as a form of resistance to misogyny and racism. The series represent a vision of Utopia, of celebrated cultural pluralism and empowerment.
"I am a gay white male living and working in Brooklyn. I am thrilled to be included in an exhibition that shines a spotlight on the rampant historical inequalities the world must contend with if it is to cure the devastating pandemic that is racism.
I’m typing this on January 6th as a band of radicalized white Americans are literally storming our nation’s capital, led on by the inept wannabe tyrant that is Trump. Their bigotry, fear, and ignorance unite them in committing atrocities that threaten to destroy our beleaguered democracy. This nation has never been a place of anything close to equality. It began with a European takeover and genocide of Native Americans, it was built on the backs of humans stolen from their homes in Africa and forced into the most brutal, industrialized form of slavery the world has ever seen. Police forces in the United States literally were formed from white bandits whose jobs were to capture escaped people fleeing from a life of violence and slavery and lynch them.
We are in a time where it is absolutely necessary to snuff the fire of hatred. If we cannot commit as a globalized culture to end the nightmare our brothers and sisters have had to endure for generations, then evil wins and hope is lost. I’m an optimist, I believe the world is waking up and doing its best to destroy this evil, and that’s why a show like this, and every effort to educate and diminish the power of hate, is absolutely necessary and should be celebrated."
- Jacob Hicks
Jacob HicksWoman 21, 22 & 23, Trinity, 2020Oil on panel.
61 x 76.2 cm
24 x 30 in
Alannah Farrell's work centres around a humanistic celebration of the individuals in their community, a predominantly queer creative community in NYC, by exposing the personal struggles, uncertainties, intimate moments, and triumphs they face.
"In 2021 it is glaringly apparent that individuals and societies must fight against countless prejudices threatening marginalized people's lives and rights."
- Alannah Farrell
Sam and Richard, 2019ALANNAH FARRELL
Even though it has grown more recognized in popular culture, BDSM is still often misunderstood. BDSM and kink exist based on consent. It is gender and sexual orientation spectrum inclusive.
In Sam and Richard, two friends are shown in an apartment amid consensual kink play. A cat, lower right, wears a medical hood, in a playful nod to the toys and sometimes medical tools utilized in BDSM play. Even though it has grown more recognized in popular culture, BDSM is still often misunderstood. This painting was recently shown online, via New American Paintings, receiving a great deal of attention, including backlash and threats to the artist.
Some viewed the imagery as condoning rape, specifically cishet rape of a man by a woman. In reality, it is quite the opposite. BDSM and kink exist based on consent. It is gender and sexual orientation spectrum inclusive. Gender is unknown on both individuals depicted. It is presumptuous to assume they are cis-gendered. With rising violent crimes against gender non-conforming individuals, we must continue to fight assumptions of gender. Destigmatizing and decriminalizing kink, BDSM play, sex work, and sex workers will only positively impact individuals whose lives, safety, and rights can be at risk due to societal misunderstandings.
Solomon Adufahis is a multidisciplinary artist whose work depicts narratives and complexities of identity through cultural exchange and negotiates the social-historical paradigm of globalization in his home country and regions alike. He achieves artistic delineation through his usage of bold coloured patterns, textures, and shapes relevant to the everyday lives and communities he engages with.
Solomon AdufahDaybreak, 2021
"When I was asked to present work to be included in the exhibition, some of the initial thoughts that came in mind werederived from my desire to present an alternative narrative to the stereotypes built on a history that has been systematically adopted and deeply rooted in oppressive ideologies of western civilization. More specifically on the representation of the imagery of blackness.
These depictions of negative imagery of the black experience perpetuated through mass media and accepted as face value is often misleading and viewed through a westernized canon. My aim is to create imagery that is not only reflective of my own experience as a black male figure but also represents a diverse landscape exploring beauty, innocence and humanity. I was born and raised in Ghana before migrating to the United States as a teenager.
As depicted in Daybreak; two brothers illustrated seemingly leaning on each other with a gentle expression of love, compassion and hope. This is the imagery that I Identify with growing up. "
- Solomon Adufah
"I’m a chronicler of ordinary characters, weather worn objects, private worlds, and awkward moments. "
- Michael Cline
Michael Cline's paintings of people embroiled in the imaginary day to day experiences of American poverty fuse elements of surrealism and traditional realism. His work engages contemporary social critique, sometimes hinting at satire, in which ambiguous narratives are supported by poignant details, obscuring as much as they reveal. There is a subtle sense of turmoil present in Cline's loosely defined narratives. Often forlorn and down on their luck, the characters in Cline's paintings are exposed in private moments, providing the viewer with a voyeuristic glimpse into lives on the fringe of society.
Michael ClineThe Puppeteer, 2019Oil on linen.
33 x 43.2 cm
13 x 17 in
"It’s just in the air so much that’s it’s choking us now isn't it."
- Erik Foss
"Erik Foss conjures the uncanny blur of events as a kind of fetishist abstraction. Creating conceptually driven action paintings in which the impact of obsession fractures the figurative and narrative alike, Foss maps psychological distortions as visceral facts with the forensic acuity of a visionary deviant. ”
- Carlo McCormick
Meet THE CURATORS
Fadi and Dan, although both physicians, of two generation, cultures, backgrounds, had a major common ground : a cohesive synergistic understanding and passion for contemporary art. They manage to communicate almost daily, exchange ideas, discuss artists, galleries, challenges, potentials, and a million ideas about the future of the field.
Although they knew each other for years, they never met in person: a true reflection of the good social media and virtual words are offering.
Dr Fadi BraitehFadi is a practicing oncologist in Las Vegas, Nevada. He grew up in Beirut Lebanon during the 1975-1990 civil war. Reading and being versed into science and history the main hobby, a first trip with Parents to Greece at age of 5, then to Spain and Italy at age 13 opened the path to a new passion: Art.Fadi started collecting after settling in Las Vegas, first versed starting 2016 into sculptures, and abstract art, with strong affinity to south east Asian Japanese artists. This was followed by intense interest in street art (which he prefers to refer to as urban art). Travelling extensively allowed to explore galleries, studios, to witness a radical transformation vacation planning in a way to match the major art fairs.The pandemic restriction was a double edge sword, with exposure to more fairs, dedicating more resources to studying emerging artists, with strong emphasis on figurative art. He collects exclusively living artists, mostly emerging ones. Many works he commissioned are centered on medical topic, and often triggered by social and historic references.
Dan Nguyen began collecting urban art by first buying prints and other editions using the money he earned from investing in Bitcoin since 2013. His collection grew to include mostly figurative paintings from living contemporary artists, developing a reputation as someone with an eye for emerging talent.
Eventually, Nguyen plans to donate much of his collection to institutions so that they can be appreciated by the public beyond his lifetime. He also recently co-founded The Here and There Collective, which highlights artists from the Asian diaspora.
CURE/RATED: BIGOTRY, A SOCIETAL CANCER: WITH DR FADI BRAITEH AND DAN NGUYEN