Artists are often the first to recognize and respond to cultural changes in the world. So says the statement by the curator of the current Downtown exhibit at the Riffe Gallery of the Ohio Arts Council.
“Shift: Thinking Globally / Acting Locally” features the work of 11 Ohio artists who, according to curator Maria Seda-Reeder, “not only experience history … but help us shape and create the future “.
That said, the works in this unusual and diverse exhibition focus on questions of social justice, environmental protection, and concepts of home and survival, especially during the pandemic.
Cincinnati artist Terence Hammonds pays homage to the civil rights movement of the 60s and 70s with his miniature dance floor made of birch and walnut plywood.
“You Have to Get Up to Get Down”, accompanied by music via a QR code on the information panel. His four screen prints in “The Beat, It Will Always Save Us” show couples dancing on the moon. In the words of the artist, the work “is a love letter to black joy that is so large and limitless that it could possibly have its own orbit.”
Among the eight works by Franklin Township’s Kevin Harris is a haunting digital acrylic layered portrait of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old pictured in Florida in 2012.
In her beautiful woven photographic collages, Cleveland artist Lauren Davies considers the abandoned industrial sites and prisons of Ohio. She cuts and reassembles tapestries originally decorated with photographs of places in Ohio, finding there simultaneously beauty and regret.
Tracy Featherstone of Hamilton, Ohio, also uses fabrics: recycled jeans in “Working Yantra” and recycled fabrics in “Red Stripe Yantra”, a tribute to the glory and fragility of coral reefs.
The found objects also play in the mural installation “Two broken arms and a spider” by Danielle Julian Norton of Columbus.
Lorena Molina, of Salvadoran origin, asks about freedom and security in her installation of raspberry plants growing from a mattress. During the Salvadoran civil war, Molina’s mother moved mattresses to protect her family from bullets.
IN “Compound Effigy (For Ma’Khia Bryant)”, Cleveland artist M. Carmen Lane pays homage by examining thousands of years to recreate an Adena mound, projecting images onto the walls of a small room from the gallery.
Xia Zhang, based in Cincinnati, also considers mortality in his striking installation “Death, Growth, Repeat”. Eight large tombstones made from chia plants serve as a “meditation on growing in uncontrollable and unsustainable environments”.
Many works reflect what preoccupied artists above all during the pandemic. In her thoughtful photographic portraits, taken during the first week of the Stay-at-Home Order, Akron artist Autumn Bland has captured healthcare workers, essential workers, and individuals and families in neighborhoods .
Amber J. Anderson of Cleveland Heights spent time alone putting together Victorian homes from vintage kits, shown in nine archival pigment prints.
Normally a performance artist, Alison Crocetta of Columbus returned to her work as a Reiki practitioner with the interactive installation “Open Channel”. In addition to viewing her play, viewers are invited to use a QR code and an informational video to register for a session of the Japanese Energy Channeling Healing Technique.
By organizing his first exhibition for the Riffe Gallery, Seda-Reeder designed the theme before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was looking, she said, for artists who worked in the conceptual areas of global and local responsibility and whose works could be catalysts for change.
“It’s up to the public who sees this exhibit to ask the tough questions,” Seda-Reeder said.
“Who is continuing care for and how do we care for the world and the people who need it?” “
In one look
“Shift: Thinking Globally / Acting Locally” continues through Oct. 8 at the Riffe Gallery, Ohio Arts Council, 77 S. High St. Hours: Noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Friday, subject to change. changes based on CDC and state guidelines. The full exhibit is available online at www.riffegallery.org.