In 2013 The Arts at CIIS is reaching outside the walls of the school and into the streets. Our first site is the billboard on the east side of the CIIS Main Building, visible from the highly trafficked intersection of 10th and Mission Streets. Over the course of the year, we will feature the work of ten artists, both emerging and mid-career, starting with Wendel White, Cristina de Middel, and Glynnis Reed. This forum allows us to expand our audience while inserting art into a space typically used for advertising. The curatorial focus this year is on contemporary artists navigating ideas around landscape—a landscape of memory, an emotional landscape, or a landscape of collective history.
Wendel White, Marshalltown School, Mannington, NJ
This piece by Wendel White is part of his Schools for the Colored series, documenting the structures which served as segregated schools, and the sites where such schools once stood. Both structures and sites are located in the southern portion of the northern (and “free”) United States, southern New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. DuBois’ concept of “the veil” informed the artist’s visual strategy of obscuring the landscape around the school as he contemplates what he refers to as the “architecture and geography of America’s educational Apartheid.”
Cristina de Middel, from The Afronauts
Only a few optimists supported the dream of Zambian schoolteacher Edward Makuka, who in 1964 launched a project to compete with the USA and the Soviet Union and put the first African on the Moon. Financial support was denied by the United Nations, and the ambitious project never got the funding it needed. Cristina de Middel, artist and photojournalist, based the images and documents for Afronauts on the documentation of this dream and the artists’ imagination.
Glynnis Reed, Erosion of You, 2008
Erosion of You is part of Glynnis Reed’s Elements of Love series. Working at the intersection of identity and place, Reed began exploring the urban landscape of Southern California, and the way our experiences in both physical and social geographies are framed by gender, race, and sexuality. Since Elements of Love Reed has moved progressively toward the edges of the city, where urban meets suburban, and ultimately into more natural settings in her current work. Through digital collage her figures are placed in emotionally ambivalent narratives of desire, fulfillment and emptiness.
Oscar Palacio, Memorial, Wounded Knee, SD, 2009
Mount Rushmore. Gettysburg. Manzanar. Plymouth Rock. In Oscar Palacio’s American Places, these sites (like the Wounded Knee memorial pictured here), so closely linked to the collective and complex legacy we inherit as Americans, are paired with monumental images of what seems familiar and relatively invisible. Originally from Colombia, Palacio brings an outsider’s perspective to his keenly observed America, and we discover a landscape both expansive and contained, delimited and unbounded.
Tomiko Jones, These Grand Places
With These Grand Places, Tomiko Jones gathers together images made with a 4 x 5 camera between Fall 2008 and Spring 2012 in varied geographies across the United States and France. It is an immersion into a changing or transitional landscape, a place I can feel a sense of communication. Response is quiet and often slow. In fact, sometimes the artist walks for hours and makes no pictures at all.
Deborah Jack, from Evidence
Evidence deals with the re/construction of spaces from memory a fragile and flawed tool when dealing with something as tangible as the landscape. The Caribbean story carries with it constantly evolving opposites that coexist on a daily basis; the stunning red flowers of the flamboyant tree hold, too, a past that includes rebellion, revolt, and emancipation. Beauty and tragedy live together in an uneasy harmony, but together nonetheless.