“Tangled Roots,” InterUrban Arthouse

Roots of the past and expectations for the future interweave with our complex present in “Tangled Roots,” a multimedia group show at InterUrban Arthouse.

For six weeks, more than four dozen visual artists, writers, performers, and social activists have come together for a conversation about discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender and socio-economics.  The August 17 opening reception featured a performance by Amado Espinoza and Karen Lisondra; upcoming events include a Sept. 19 presentation by author Lewis Diuguid of his book, “Making Black Men” and a Sept. 21 Lit Fest led by Sheri Purpose Hall. “Tangled Roots” participants include the Nritya School of Indian Dance, Andi Meyer and Tradewind Arts and Russian House.

Penetrating emotional content and perceptive social commentary form the foundation of the “Tangled Roots” exhibition, which ranges from emerging artists such as Jillian Youngbird and  Glyneisha Johnson to established talents including Michael Toombs, Israel Alejandro Garcia Garcia and Nedra Bonds. Hope and despair, empathy and anger, respect and revolution echo through the artists’ visual discussions with viewers and each other. These themes intersect history, government, sports, economics and the arts in a place where cultures meet, clash, and come together.

Collectively the artists and activists in the exhibit raise awareness and compel conversation, as they untangle their own experiences and share their vision with those who may not have experienced similar challenges.

“From my own personal experience, discrimination still happens, no matter how much education or accolade you attain,” says Angelica Sandoval, creator of the porcelain and steel light installation, “Empyreal Radiance.” “As minorities, we have to use our voice to change discrimination and the way others view us.”

“I work in light, and ‘Empyreal’ sheds light on the unknown and fear of the unknown. It’s also an organic expression of comfort and safety from darkness.”

In her quietly compelling black and white portraits of Johnson County’s homeless, photographer Sharon Rodriguez has opened the door for her subjects to tell their stories.

During a “Tangled Roots” event in late August, Rodriguez celebrated the release of her recently published book, “Homeless with Honor,” chronicling the day-to-day lives of those living homeless on the periphery of Johnson County’s wealthy suburbs.

“We’re all entwined, and entwined comes to mind as a definition of tangled,” says Rodriquez. “My goal is to show the value of marginalized, homeless people with dignity and integrity through their own voice. We all want to be recognized and respected.”

In “Satchel Paige,” Anthony “AO” Oropeza uses robust color and energetic brushstrokes to paint the tangled and often painful roots of his subject’s life, believing that woven together they tell Paige’s fullest truth.

“This exhibit gave me an opportunity to highlight Satchel Paige and the Negro League. I showcased the good and bad, with regard to race relations and segregation, specifically in sports,” Oropeza says.

“I painted the negative Satchel dealt with in the background. He was able to put that behind him and focus on his work and craft. In the front of the work, I showcase his high level of achievement in the midst of a segregated society.”

“Tangled Roots” continues at InterUrban Arthouse, 8001 Newton St., Overland Park, through Sept. Upcoming events include performances, workshops and a multicultural exhibition and street festival that will close the show on September 29. For more information (913) 283-7091 or www.interurbanarthouse.org.

About The Author: Anne Marie Hunter

Anne Marie Hunter

Anne Marie Hunter is a freelance writer and photographer who holds a B.S. in speech and art history from Northwestern University and a M.A. in Art Education from Southern Oregon University. She is a freelance reporter and photographer for the “Kansas City Star,” writes online college curriculum, and completes photography projects for corporate clients.

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