Gallery Glance: “Postscript,” Leedy-Voulkos Art Center

Carlos Salazar Lermont’s digital photograph “Ecclesiastés 1:9” is part of the “PostScript” exhibition at the Leedy Voulkos Art Center through July 13. (collection Elizabeth Oran)

The six artists featured in “PostScript” provide a network for Kansas City audiences to learn something of consequence about important issues of the day.

Drawn from the Elizabeth Oran Collection, owned by Dwight Smith and Beth Low-Smith, the multimedia exhibition at Leedy-Voulkos Art Center is a sequel to a spring 2023 exhibit from the collection titled “Words and Silences,” at Plug Gallery. “PostScript” continues a conversation on the text-image relationship in art and the ways in which viewers understand language and communication through visual terms.

The exhibit’s curator, artist Cesar Lopez, describes the works in “PostScript” as especially important to the couple’s collection, which they have built to emphasize underrepresented artists and segments of the art market. “We’re continuing to open it up,” Lopez said. “There are text-based works, video works, and even poems, which will engage different types of artists and audiences.”

Entering the gallery, the viewer discovers several works by Sumire Skye Taniai, an Asian-American artist whose collages traverse such topics as today’s hostile political climate, especially in relation to racial injustices, as well as immigration, assimilation and Asian stereotypes. In her photomontage “This is My Successful Face,” she uses the Chop Suey font, stylized to mimic the font of Chinese characters. The font, associated with Asian restaurants since the 19th century, “represents hard work,” Taniai says. “We keep our heads down, staying out of trouble, and minding our own business.” Through the rich iconography in the piece, Taniai says she strives to break the stereotype by affiliating two things that typically don’t belong together — prison culture (as represented by the chain link fence), and immigrant restaurant workers.

In “Ecclesiastés 1:9,” Chicago and St. Louis-based artist Carlos Salazar Lermont uses photography to document a five-day private performance, which in Latin American culture is known as a “fotoperformance.” The five photographs each depict a chest tattooed with the biblical verse referred to in the work’s title. However, as the viewer moves from the leftmost photo to the right, the words fade and eventually disappear. Lermont has cropped the photographs so that they omit his face, allowing the viewer to focus on what he deems is most important. “In ‘Ecclesiastés 1:9’ I sought not to see the text and image as a relationship between two separate things,” he said. “I thought of text as image… I want the image to be an enigma for the viewer to decipher, and that has not only one solution, but it changes as the viewer changes and grows.”

Each of the artists represented in “PostScript” demonstrates new ways of thinking about the exhibition’s topic, while thinking deeply about materiality and how media plays a role in communication. Chicana artist Marylu Herrera’s piece “Antojitos” includes Lay’s chip bags, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos bags and Sabritones Chile & Lime bags as well as Celosa ribbon. She says she uses “Rasquache and Domesticana aesthetics” to inform and comment on the craft of women’s works, which are deeply related to familial memories, especially when thinking about the material expression of decoration.

Other participants in the exhibition include Samantha Haan, Alej Martinez and Kiki Serna, who provide fascinating works respectively in Phototex, poetry and video.

“PostScript” continues at Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, 2012 Baltimore Ave., through July 13. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. For more information, 816.474.1919 or www.leedy-voulkos.com.

Ashley Lindeman

Ashley Lindeman is an art historian, educator, and arts writer. She recently earned her Ph.D. from Florida State University, and she works full time as Assistant Professor of Humanities at Johnson County Community College.

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