PAPER JAM: Exploring Visual Strategies for Social Concern

PAPER JAM is a celebration of paper and its use in visual art as well as a collection of socially conscious compositions. Participating artists were encouraged to focus on a current social/political issue that has affected them. The result is a diverse installation of both thought-provoking statements and well-crafted, beautiful artworks.

The artists were invited primarily on the basis of being well informed on current social topics. Additionally, this group represents a variety of different visual disciplines. Nearly all the work in PAPER JAM was created specifically for this exhibition. Artists entered into a dialogue with the curator to select and develop a topical subject appropriate for this show. This approach helped prevent overlap and ensured a coherent installation of the 13 artworks. PAPER JAM features everything from lush watercolors to compositions referencing street-art picture making. This collection of new art aims to re-think the notion that socially conscious art is inherently limited to angry one-note slogans and propaganda in general.

Artworks include Thomas Broadbent’s large watercolor juxtaposing two handguns, one a revolver and the other a toy pistol. Meticulously rendered in lush color, both weapons become surprisingly seductive. . David Pierce offers viewers a comparison of two examples of police headgear: one the cloth hat with visor that completes a cop’s uniform and the other a more contemporary helmet/hat associated with riot gear, showing the transformation of police officer into combat soldier. Pam Butler offers her take on climate change with an extended mixed media composition using street style graphics.  Jim Torok’s cartoonish Jesus image is an obvious reference to the tragedy at Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Patricia Fabricant’s “Paper Dolls for the  Millennium” address’ the way our apparel affects perceptions, from the Jihadi Bride whose only clothing option isa burka to the Republican party candidate whose sanctimonious attempts to be a mouthpiece for the medical community and the clergy mask a double life.

The painting exhibited in Paper Jam, entitled The Garden Of Unearthly Dismay by Elise Engler, is a compendium of the many of the maladies that have affected our planet in recent times, from political corruption, to ever present surveillance, to disasters of war, to climate change. The myriad of images are superimposed on a landscape very loosely based on Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delight.

Phil Buehler turns police surveillance around by reassembling fragments of shredded paper that he appropriated from the trash of a New York City police precinct.

Aubrey Roemer tells us that the cloth, plastic twine & clothespins are all sourced from Nicaragua. Each painting will be two-sided. I have the rendered portrait facing one side and as ghostly Mono-print created by the painting affixed to the back. This way you see literal and abstract-the mono-print looks like a portrait exploding out of blood-much like cutters die from CKDnT. The seven images are from a series of twenty-three cloth portraits of men  who died from CKDnT. In a town (Chichagalpa) of over 50,000. There have been 10,000 deaths from this disease.  The 20 something paintings are representative of the 20% of the population that have died.

Michael Waugh’s piece utilizes decorative motifs derived from 19th century etchings on top of a cobalt-hued watercolor. Waterboarding is literally a subtext in this piece-as the image itself is composed entirely out of text copied from the recent US Senate report on the CIA’s interrogation program and the extra legal site set up by the agency, code named SITE COBALT.

Brent Ridge’s work-on-paper is titled “In God We Trust” and offers the viewers a political style poster graphic with praying hands.

Larry Walczak’s HEROES & VILLIANS showcases 21different portraits via American trading and/or bubblegum cards. It features politicians, celebrities, atheletes, and even costumed heroes in a gallery of faces that begs the viewer to select the Hero or Villian..or can one be both? This artwork also questions the very nature of photographic documentation in contemporary art.

Ellie Murphy’s “Stolen 276/365” is a work on paper made as a tribute to the abducted schoolgirls of Chibok, Nigeria. This astounding incident—the female students were taken from their school while taking their final exams—is a sad act of violence which also points to the important issue of the right of every woman and girl to an education, a right we often take for granted. This tribute coincides with the one-year anniversary of the abduction. 219 girls have yet to return.

 

PAPER JAM attempts to create a visual dialogue regarding current domestic and global issues. If it raises consciousness in just one viewer I will consider this exhibition a success.

The exhibition is hosted by Schema Projects, 92 St. Nicholas Ave, Brooklyn, NY.

April 3rd through May 3, 2015

Opening reception Friday, April 3 6-9pm

eyewash is an independent migratory gallery founded by Larry Walczak in 1997 in a tenement building in Williamsburg, Bklyn. eyewash has organized exhibitions in Newark, Philadelphia, Gent, Belgium & Berlin.