The artists in this exhibit give voice to marginalized and underrepresented communities and individuals while addressing discrimination, racism, colonialism, identity, immigration, and assimilation. Organized in collaboration with the artist initiative, For Freedoms, this exhibit is part of a non-partisan nationwide campaign that uses art to inspire civic participation and responds to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. Artists: Hugo Bastidas, Monica S. Camin, Dominique Duroseau, Gladys Grauer, Caren King Choi, and Raymond E. Mingst.
Artists affirm their inalienable human right to freedom of speech in an exhibition at the William Paterson University Galleries in the Ben Shahn Center for the Visual Arts from September 10 through October 19, 2018. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sunday, September 16 from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. An opening reception for the exhibition will be held on Wednesday, September 12 from 4 to 6 p.m. A panel discussion is scheduled for Thursday, September 27 at 9:30 a.m.
Speak Your Peace, on view in the Court Gallery, is organized in collaboration with For Freedoms, which started in 2016 as a platform for civic engagement, discourse, and direct action for artists in the United States. Inspired by Norman Rockwell’s 1943 paintings of the four universal freedoms articulated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1941—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear—For Freedoms seeks to use art to deepen public discussions of civic issues and core values, and to clarify that citizenship in American society is deepened by participation, not by ideology. For Freedoms is part of a rich history of artists employing means of mass communication to provoke political discourse. For Freedoms believes art, and artists, play an important role in galvanizing our society towards a more representative and transparent government.
Since 2016, For Freedoms has produced special exhibitions, town hall meetings, billboards, and lawn sign installations to spur greater participation in civic life. This year, For Freedoms launched its 50 State Initiative, a new phase of programming to encourage broad participation and inspire conversation around November’s midterm elections. Building off of the existing artistic infrastructure in the United States, For Freedoms has developed a network of over 300 artists and 200 institutional partners who will produce nationwide public art installations, exhibitions, and local community dialogues in order to inject nuanced, artistic thinking into public discourse. Centered around the vital work of artists, For Freedoms hopes that these exhibitions and related projects will model how arts institutions can become civic forums for action and discussion of values, place, and patriotism.
In tandem with 50 State Initiative, the William Paterson University Galleries showcases artwork by Hugo Bastidas, Monica S. Camin, Dominique Duroseau, Gladys Grauer, Caren King Choi, and Raymond E. Mingst, who give voice to marginalized and underrepresented communities and individuals. Using mixed media, painting, works on paper, and found objects, these artists engage issues such as discrimination, racism, colonialism, immigration, and assimilation while seeking justice and equality for all. These artists reexamine representation, in some cases using the genre of portraiture, as a means to disrupt the invisibility of minorities, contest the pervasiveness of racial stereotypes, and engender a more inclusive worldview.
For the past six years, Hugo Bastidas has created portraits of native individuals including Atahualpa (2016) and Sacagewa (2014), posing them in the attire of European rulers circa the middle and late 1600s. In Chief Pontiac (2018), Bastidas portrays the leader wearing the waist coat of his colonizer while retaining his bandana as evidence of his steadfastness to his culture and identity. According to the artist, “The Incan and Spanish blood that runs through my veins brings me closer to this idea of the meeting of two different cultures…I am not rewriting history but asking what if there was mutual respect and exchange instead of destruction, subjugation, and opposition?” Bastidas was born in Quito, Ecuador and raised in Paterson, New Jersey. He earned his BFA from Rutgers University and MFA from Hunter College, New York. His work has been exhibited nationally and he is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship and Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, among others. Currently, he is an associate professor at New Jersey City University and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Monica S. Camin presents a portrait of America in her graphite drawing, Conceptual America (2017). She depicts the costume of a superhero as a commentary on the nation’s omnipresent power yet the outfit is only half adorned with stars to suggest that the country’s identity remains somewhat undefined. “I reflect on what it is to be an American; I respond—as an immigrant, as a woman—to the racial and gender injustices, and forge hope for a better future,” she says of her work. Camin was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and currently divides her between Fair Haven, New Jersey and Houston, Texas. She studied painting at the Paula A. Sarmiento Art Academy in Olivos, Argentina and the Manuel Belgrano Art University in Buenos Aires. In New York City, she studied sculpture at the Art Students League and The New School. She has exhibited national and internationally, and her work is included in numerous private collections.
In her “Red Portraits” series, Caren King Choi reinterprets Chinese Communist propaganda posters, which are typically red-toned portraits of the party’s leader, Mao Zedong (1893-1976). Choi’s grandparents fled China after the rise of Communism and she is fascinated by these idealized representations though cognizant of her family’s difficult hardships as exiles. Choi reclaims her cultural heritage by emulating the hues and poses of propaganda posters in portraits of her nieces, nephews, and mother. Using hundreds of hand-colored stickers in each artwork, she honors her family while generating positive portrayals of Asian Americans, who remain largely absent in U.S. popular culture. Born in Hackensack, New Jersey, she studied studio art and creative writing at Colgate University and continues to pursue both fields. Her artwork has been exhibited at venues such as the Pollak Gallery at Monmouth University and Prospect Street Firestation Gallery in Newark, New Jersey. She works at the Paul Robeson Galleries at Rutgers-Newark and lives in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.
Dominique Duroseau explores representation, in particular blackness, by appropriating the illustrations of Norman Rockwell(1894-1978). The latter artist is an apt point of reference for this exhibit because he created the iconic painting series “Four Freedoms” (1943) while also depicting the lives of ordinary Americans in numerous magazines. In Dear Rockwell, large milk and chocolate chip cookies (2015, 2017-present), Duroseau transforms Rockwell’s scenes through what she terms “negrofication,” inserting a mock representation of African Americans. She intentionally adopts extreme racial caricatures to call attention to the vernacular portrayal of African Americans that prevailed during Rockwell’s lifetime. Her interventions draw attention to our implicit bias and prejudiced perceptions as she constructs alternate narratives with charged power dynamics between individuals from different racial backgrounds. Born in Chicago, Duroseau was raised in Haiti and currently lives and works in Newark. She earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from New Jersey School of Architecture and a master of arts in fine arts from Kean University. In addition to exhibiting extensively, she has been a fellowship artist at A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn and an artist in residence at several Newark organizations, including Gallery Aferro, Index Art Center, and Shine Portrait Studio. This September, she will be an artist in residence at the Wassaic Project in Wassaic, New York.
Gladys Grauer creates paintings, sculpture, weavings, assemblages, and collages informed by her activism, which began as a student at the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1940s. For this exhibit, she presents acrylic wall hangings woven from plastic bags that honor both well-known and lesser-known individuals who have experienced police brutality, the injustice of the criminal system, gender bias, and racism. She explains, “My art expresses my reaction to and interaction with the struggle of all people for survival. This struggle is motivated by the optimism of beautiful people for their intellectual, financial, social, political, individual, and physical survival.” Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, she grew up on Chicago’s South Side and then moved to New York City. Since 1951, she has lived in Newark, where she has been a community and political activist, owner of a community-based art gallery, and a practicing artist. Her artwork has been exhibited extensively throughout her 70-year career, most recently in a retrospective exhibit at Gallery Aferro in 2017.
In his installation, The Department of Reparative History (2018), Raymond E. Mingst investigates the narratives that are profoundly missing as a result of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. In the face of this significant cultural loss, Mingst assembles historical documents and found photographs and objects to imagine and lament these untold histories. This installation includes Mingst’s hardbound book MCMLXX (2014), which reproduces the obituary for poet Frank O’Hara from 1966, a gay porn novel published in 1970, and the 1981 New York Times article titled “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals.” These materials serve as touchstones that represent experiences of a generation of gay men who succumbed to the poorly understood disease in the 1980s and 1990s. Born in Hackensack, New Jersey, Mingst is an artist, writer, and curator based in Jersey City, New Jersey. He has exhibited his artwork at numerous venues including the Center for Book Arts in New York and the Parallel Art Space in Brooklyn, among others. In addition, he is a founding member of the literary journal, Ignite, and co-founder of the Jersey City art gallery, Curious Matter.
In conjunction with this exhibition, the University Galleries will present an interdisciplinary panel discussion on the topic of freedom of speech. Participants include Elizabeth Victor, William Paterson professor of philosophy; Fanny Lauby, William Paterson professor of political science; and exhibiting artists Hugo Bastidas and Raymond E. Mingst. The panel will be held on Thursday, September 27 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the Court Gallery.
On Wednesday, September 19 from noon to 2 p.m. on Zanfino Plaza, the University Galleries will present a public art installation featuring For Freedoms lawn signs. Inspired by political campaign signage, For Freedoms lawn sign activations encourage participants to produce and publicly display their own definition of freedom by filling out signs that say: Freedom of___, Freedom from___, Freedom for___, and Freedom to___. This event is organized in collaboration with William Paterson’s Office of Campus Activities, Service and Leadership.
The exhibition is one of two on view concurrently in the University Galleries. The South and East Galleries features Selections from Women’s Rights Are Human Rights: International Posters on Gender-Based Inequality, Violence and Discrimination. This exhibition is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. The William Paterson University Galleries are wheelchair-accessible. Large-print educational materials are available. For additional information, please call the William Paterson University Galleries at 973-720-2654.
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Thursday, September 27, 2018
9:30 - 10:30 a.m.
View a recording of the panel discussion
More about For Freedoms:
More about the 50 State Initiative:
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