Curated by Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell
September 5 — October 10, 2015
Opening reception: Saturday, September 12, 6-8pm
Country, Home is an exhibition of multiple narratives by differing immigrant and first-generation American artists, exploring the particular tensions and challenges of these culturally and socially under-recognized groups. Most importantly, the exhibition is about social issues and art.
Country, Home is an elusive phrase, a question about the strength of the words themselves – does country constitute home? If not home, then country? The work presented falls somewhere in between. It addresses the preconceptions and assumptions of locationism and nationalism – the parts where the American dream falls flat for most “others” – where the presumed achievement of being in America contrasts with expectations.
The exhibition does not aim to produce a survey-view of multiculturalism. Instead, the exhibition gathers different voices in a seemingly non-directionally heavy-handed way, much like the experience of the American “melting pot” of mixed immigrant cultures. No one immigrant/immigrant-born artist experience is exactly alike, and this exhibition embraces that reality and translates it into visual narrative form. Seemingly unrelated artists and forms are juxtaposed to reveal narratives of outsider isolation, economic position, documentary and identity, and navigation.
Curator's Essay: Country, Home by Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell
Immigration is the lifeblood of this nation. And yet the dominant rhetoric in our culture is that of fear, resentment, distrust, and otherness—otherwise alienation. Despite the multitude of multicultural claims—especially in academia and the liberal arts—multicultural people are still very much the Other. Where the American Dream most frequently falls short is the societal damnation of the outsider. In a country home to and defined by immigrants, how can it be that none of the complexities of such lives are welcomed in the mainstream?
There is a gap in this country. It is the original gap—the source of the wage gap, generational gap, gender gap—it is the representational gap. It is a gap so severe that it creates dichotomies from the onset. There are mainstream exhibitions and Other exhibitions, but never both. The Other is rarely given the decency to be contextualized with her mainstream contemporaries. The gap is so rooted in our expectations that an exhibition eliminating the voice of the mainstream inherently conjures associations of activism and advocacy—and is not simply considered to be completing the story. Culture observes its contents through a singular lens, filtering perceptions and concepts through the normalizing experience, which determines what is good and worthwhile, and what is otherwise foreign and dangerous.1 Continued...
Migrations by Ian Epstein