New Fisher exhibit reflects on the beauty of endurance
âI took the time to look inside and really think about what I want to accomplish with my art. I want to enlighten, entertain and give food for thought.
Here, Karen Amy Finkel Fishof, a local contemporary artist whose art features prominently on the walls of the USC Fisher Museum of Art’s latest exhibition, perfectly sums up what it feels like to discover “Art and hope at the end of the tunnel â.
After being closed for over a year (despite briefly reopening in April for a short report on Dan McCleary), the Fisher Museum revealed “Art and Hope at the End of the Tunnel” on September 10. The exhibit, curated by Edward Goldman, art critic and host of NPR’s “Art Talk”, centers on art created during the coronavirus pandemic. It serves as an uplifting reminder that art holds power and can heal in tragic times.
The space itself is a wonderful environment to view art. Quotes from artists adorn the crisp white walls that support each hanging piece. By showcasing artists of color and designers from a variety of unique backgrounds, it is clear that the exhibition celebrates the diversity within the contemporary art world.
While the Fisher Museum showcases artwork from many different mediums (including stunning quilted tapestries and more abstract collages), the exhibit above all excels in its display of various portraits. The portraits featured a range from the Basquiat-inspired canvas by Damian Elwes to the futuristic die-cast aluminum busts of Simon Toparovsky and Ken Gonzales-Day’s collection of âPandemic Portraitsâ of other artists, models and friends.
One of the most notable works is the series of photographs by Brendan Lott. In these candid images, Lott illustrates the beauty and pain in a mundane existence and the joys and trials of everyday life during the pandemic. Inspired by his real neighbors, the images give the impression that we recognize the subjects within us – a man making his bed, a woman looking at her phone, an unidentifiable figure lying on their sofa, another singing “Titanium” by David Guetta at the karaoke of his television.
In these scenes there is a pervasive feeling of fear, defeat, joy, exhaustion, but most of all, endurance. Lott reminds us of this through his work. The pandemic has had an emotional and physical impact on many people, and just putting up with these difficult times is something to be proud of and to celebrate.
Beyond the emphasis on portraits, the exhibition also emphasizes political art. Leo Marmol celebrates his legacy in his series of American and Cuban flag paintings while John Nava’s oil on paper commemorates a migrant child who suffered grave injustice on the southern border. By choosing such a young subject, Nava acknowledges this devastating reality but also reminds the viewer of the younger generations and their hope for a better life, ultimately urging the audience to support the establishment of a more humane immigration system.
Other work focuses more on the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. Mark Steven Greenfield’s religious plays were particularly extraordinary. In his paintings, black individuals depict several biblical figures in idol-like forms, reusing the old Byzantine style and taking up central Christian figures as an integral part of modern black history. The artist calls this series ârepresentations of new beginningsâ, which perfectly complements the general inspiration of the exhibition.
However, some political comments don’t quite fit the theme. For example, Keiko Fukazawa’s porcelain profiles of tyrannical leaders, such as Mao Zedong and Donald Trump, miss the mark, focusing more on unequivocal leadership failures and not enough on the path to a better future. Although well executed, these ironic commemorative plaques do not go well with the idea of ââhope.
There is a great balance of light and serious art in the exhibition. While many of the aforementioned works deal with important issues, one piece in particular stands out for its playful and refreshing character. Karon Davis’ sculpture titled “Quarantini” uses a cheeky pun and shows a woman casually holding a coral martini glass topped with an olive. It shows that even in their mid-forties, people still found ways to have fun.
‘Art and Hope at the End of the Tunnel’ offers a surreal escape from the pandemic, embraces recent deep socio-political movements, and recognizes the beauty of introspective contemplation and the new appreciation for life that many artists have found over the years. last year and a half in quarantine.
“Art and Hope at the End of the Tunnel” is on view until December 4, 2021.