Andrew Mcilvaine, “Ascension” (2020)
Organized by the Charlotte Street Foundation’s Jedel Family Foundation Curatorial Fellow Kimi Kitada, “With Liberty and Justice” features the works of nine contemporary artists looking closely at American history. As Kitada stated on the foundation’s website, “the show provides a space to re-learn histories, focusing on the omissions and erasures of BIPOC voices in American history.”
Natalia Nakazawa’s work “History has failed us…but no matter” (2019) remembers the imprisonment of Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II. The large-scale work from the “Visual Heteroglossia” series mixes watercolors, textiles, jewels, and photographic transfers. A zine featured in the back of the gallery shares that this series “gathers material from the past, present, and future.” As the title of the piece suggests, with its use of ellipsis, the work makes a statement, but in a refractive way, to paraphrase Mikhail Bakhtin, who coined the term heteroglossia.
Andrew Mcilvaine’s work “Ascension” (2020) addresses an individual and collective relationship to the U.S.-Mexico border. The work focuses the viewer on both actual and imagined barriers. The visual narrative unfolds to reveal a vision of refuge for people in North and South America.
Michelle Chan’s “Dream Queen” (2020) and Drea DiCarlo’s “Bigwig Outlaw” (2020) are series of prints showing the artists dressed as cowboys. In a moment when we could all use a little playtime, these works invite us to play. They remind us that play and imagination are life-affirming tools.
Leon Jones’s sculpture “The Weight of Fallacies” (2021) offers a critical look at America and its legacy of racial prejudice.
“Light Attire” (2021) by Courtney Faye Taylor originally appeared in the May 2021 issue of “Poetry Magazine.” The poem’s effect lies in the simultaneous making and breaking of a pattern. A note from the artist on the Poetry Foundation’s website explains that the found language and images are from “descriptions and photographs of Black women and girls found on police missing flyers and the FBI’s Most Wanted list.”
Christian Bañez’s installation piece “47 Acres: On Display” (2021) consists of 47 boxes created with wood and nails. A description on the wall explains that each box represents one acre of the 47 acres of land where “1,200 Filipino and indigenous people” were “confined to enclosures on the fairgrounds” at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri.
Le’Andra LeSeur’s work creates an environment that honors her ancestors. “In Reverence (An Honoring)” (2018) shows a continuous image of two hands raised toward the sky. The graceful form unravels to show a moving testimony, and this viewer could not help but join and raise hands. Stunning works by Eliseo Casiano round out the exhibition.
As Kitada stated in a recent interview, “sometimes these memories are repressed and not spoken about. I’m thinking about each person going into this exhibition with their own background and sets of experiences . . . and really thinking through these different elements and histories.”
“With Liberty and Justice” continues at the Charlotte Street Foundation, 3333 Wyoming, through Oct. 23. Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. For more information, 816.221.5115 or www.charlottestreet.org.