Presented by the Alexandria Museum of Art
On the Cover: George, Aron Belka
Presented by the Alexandria Museum of Art On View March 1 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; June 22, 2019 Throughout history, artists have used their craft to attempt to make sense of the world around them, to document it, and to educate others. The artists in this exhibition are no different, although their subject is one which many overlook or choose to ignore. According to recent estimates, approximately 40 million people live in poverty and a greater number are barely above the poverty line. Everyone encounters at least one person living in poverty or homelessness daily, whether they notice it or not. Concrete & Adrift: On the Poverty Line uses art of all media to address the issues of poverty and homelessness and many that go along with them. The pieces in this exhibit were chosen from entries by artists around the country who have used their work to tackle related social issues for some time. Exploring ideas of feeling invisible, overlooked, misunderstood, and more, those living in poverty and homelessness experience difficulties far beyond the financial. This exhibition strives to bring some of those issues to light and confront some of the associated stereotypes and generalizations. Some of the artists work from their own experience and memory, having experienced these issues firsthand. The exhibition is separated into thematic sections: portrait; shelter; isolation & invisibility; poverty, immigration, and food; and location although multiple works address more than one theme. Each object label includes an explanation or story connected with the creation and meaning of the work in question. Take the time to read the information and fully appreciate each work for its value both aesthetically and intentionality.
About the Museum The Alexandria Museum of Art has promoted understanding and appreciation of art through three decades of exhibitions and educational outreach programs. The mission of the Alexandria Museum of art is to foster a culturally rich community by engaging, enlightening and inspiring individuals through innovative art experiences. To accomplish this, we educate, in order to advance the public’s knowledge of and appreciation for the value of art as a source of beauty, inspiration, information, and expression. The vision of the Alexandria Museum of Art is to be the premier arts center of Central Louisiana, providing quality programming, exhibitions, and events, as well as outreach programs, taking a collaborative approach to meet the educational and cultural needs of our community. This catalog documents the Concrete & Adrift: On the Poverty Line exhibition March 1 – June 22, 2019 Curated by Megan Valentine, Curator & Registrar - Co-Juried by AMoA Staff Members Designed by Gar Pickering, Marketing Communications Published by Alexandria Museum of Art Alexandria Museum of Art 933 Second Street, Alexandria, LA 71301 318.443.3458 • www.themuseum.org Copyright 2019 Alexandria Museum of Art
AMoA reserves all rights. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in review.
FROM THE DIRECTOR Artists often allow us to view societal issues through the lens of their work. While many of us give to charities and non-profits that assist people with challenges, we often hesitate to get too close to those who are different from us. When we pass those corners where the impoverished gather to solicit help from those passing by, we are compelled to look away. These individuals are also often approached with skepticism and fear. These exhibitions offer the opportunity to take a closer look and learn more about this often misunderstood population.
As we explore poverty and homelessness through the lens of contemporary artists, AMoA will bring attention to the needs of our local non-profits. For all exhibit related programming, we will ask for donations for a specific organization in order to assist with their mission. The works in this exhibition prove that beauty can be found in some of the most unexpected placesâ&#x20AC;Ś.and faces.
I learned a lot from the works submitted to the call for artists. I had certain ideas about the subjects I expected to see reflected in the works. Once I began reviewing the work, I was compelled to broaden my thoughts on the subject, including but not limited to immigration, gentrification, and artists who struggle themselves. I hope that you will also be impacted and consider expanding your own thoughts about the issues that contribute to the struggle some have to survive in our communities.
Catherine M. Pears Executive Director Alexandria Museum of Art
About the Juror
overty may not mean what you think. The federal government updates its official measure of poverty each year, a measure that’s easily accessible and widely used. Unfortunately, it’s largely meaningless. The reality is worse than the official numbers. Just how poor does someone have to be in order to live “in poverty?” The answer to that question ought to consider what it actually costs to live these days. No frills, no luxuries, just breaking even with frugal living and careful money management. That answer is exactly what the United Ways around Louisiana have created with their ALICE study. ALICE is an acronym for “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.” It’s what most people call the ‘working poor’ – people who work at full-time jobs but still live in financial hardship because the jobs don’t pay enough to get by. The ALICE study looked at eight basic factors in the cost of living for every parish in Louisiana: housing, food, child care (for households with young children), transportation, health care, taxes, and technology (phones), plus a small percentage for those miscellaneous, unforeseen items such as a dead car battery. The disturbing result is that the federal poverty level doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, the official 2016 poverty level for a single adult was $11,880. But the ALICE study documents the fact that a basic survival budget for a single adult in 2016 (the most recent available data in the 2018 update) was $19,548 – 65% more than the official poverty level. For a family of four with two small children, child care costs often total more than rent. Official poverty level for this family is $24,600. The actual ALICE threshold for this family is more than double that at $53,148. The ALICE threshold – what it actually costs a household to get by, at a minimum – is a more defensible measure of poverty. The next question is, how many households does poverty affect? In 2016, 19% of Rapides Parish households lived below the official federal poverty level – roughly one in five. But on top of that, another 28% of Rapides Parish lived between official poverty and the ALICE threshold. Added together, 47% of Rapides Parish households lived below the income level required to break even. In all other central Louisiana parishes, the total of ALICE and official poverty households is more than half. It’s cruelly expensive – even physically painful – to live in poverty at any level. Have to put off dental checkups? Then pay for a root canal or end up
having so many teeth pulled that chewing is hard. Can’t afford to get that lump checked out? Pay for Stage 3 cancer treatments. Poverty charges interest. The ALICE threshold doesn’t take student debt into account, so add those monthly loan payments to the needs of many households. Interest on that debt mounts up fast, and credit scores suffer, so car payments go up. If you’re above official poverty but below the ALICE threshold, you won’t qualify for many federal benefits, including food stamps and Medicaid. When Social Security began in 1935, the face of poverty was an older face. Debate focused on coal miner’s widows who’d been left with nothing to live on. Today older adults have a much lower poverty rate than young families. Our youngest children bear the brunt of poverty, and the results are all around us. Between a third and half of our 4-year-olds enter pre-K already behind, and at the other end, graduation rates reflect that grim reality. Contrary to what you might expect, attendance rates at schools with poor students are high: poor children often attend school just so they can get breakfast and lunch. One more thing: poverty can be isolating. When you can’t pay the rent, you move around a lot, doubling up with friends or family. It’s hard to form relationships with neighbors if you’re not there very long. This data can be depressing, but don’t throw up your hands. Things aren’t hopeless. Communities can band together to make life a little easier for neighbors in poverty. Employers can cut some slack for employees with flat tires or visits to the doctor. Not-for-profit community organizations, including congregations, can offer tutoring and after-school snacks, health checkups, entrepreneurship training, volunteer tax preparation – anything to help people save a few bucks on things they need or learn to make more income. Neighbors can provide a listening ear when stress gets too high. We can all get engaged in the conversation. Find out what you can do. When you put your efforts together with the efforts of others, they add up to make a difference for good. Check out the data at www.unitedwayalice.org/louisiana. Give, volunteer, or advocate – do whatever you can so that the place where you live can LIVE UNITED. – David T. Britt, United Way of Central Louisiana
The Artists Robin Adsit Michael Gagliardi Angelo Aron Belka Clint Brown Dana Caldera Kevin Campbell Du Chau Susan Corbyn Melody Croft Bryson Currier Sarah Dillon Malaika Favorite King Yan Fina Yeung J. Leigh Garcia Tatiana Garmendia Laura Gates Cheryl Goldsleger Ronald Gonzalez Diane Hiscox Lynn LaRose
David Larson Glen Kayla Lashley Annie Lee Kandy Lopez George Lorio Emilio Maldonado Jessica McDaniel Dan Moras Hillel Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Leary Michael Pribich Jack Reynolds Kim Rice Cristobal Rodriguez Monica Santaella Jerry Smith Wendy Starn Hillary Steel Kaitlin West
Her Pride 2016
Mixed media (spray paint, gouache, ink, collage on paper)
On loan from Jessica Jackson This work specifically represents a time in my life when I created art to help myself make sense of the injustice of white privilege and the imbalance of equity in our society. My artwork largely focuses on human interaction and understanding those that are different from us. I spent five years teaching at a low-income charter school in inner city Houston where I was faced for the first time with how different a life lived below the poverty line is from my own experience. I am so grateful for the lessons I learned and the spirits I met while teaching. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve influenced my work greatly. This work directly relates to my changing worldview while teaching.
Oil on canvas
New Orleans, LA
This portrait is part of a project exploring the homeless population of New Orleans. Myself and artist Epaul Julien volunteered with nonprofit, Grace at the Greenlight, to help feed homeless citizens, as well as interview and photograph several individuals to learn more about their stories and challenges. This portrait of George was a product of those interactions and research. George had been living under the Ponchartrain Expressway in New Orleans but also volunteered with Grace at the Greenlight to feed his fellow neighbors.
Acrylic on canvas with pieces of plastic & cardboard pieces
My work is all about placing yourself in the shoes of the homeless and imagining yourself in their predicament. I have been convicted to feel more empathy for those around me as of late. This work resulted from my desire to place myself in the shoes of the homeless. I know that no one ever intends to be homeless, and most painfully of all, that no one begins that way. At one point this person was just like you: just trying to do their best to take care of themselves and meet their basic needs. The best way to provide love and care is to first imagine what it is like to be that person. This artwork attempts to make this process of empathy a literal one through the use of mirrors and vibrant colors to signify the beautiful and prosperous world that surrounds the homeless and that is unfortunately just out of their reach.
Oil on plexi-glass, photography, plywood
Kayla Lashley Chicago, IL
Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been working on the issues of homelessness and our perception of homeless people. During my research, I have interviewed multiple peopel that are dealing with struggles of homelessness. We often look at them as if they are fused with their environment, forgetting that they are also people as well. I want my work to show who they truly are and make them stand out from the background where they are unnoticed. Homelessness is a struggle that we have been dealing with in American history for so long. I want my work to have a role in connecting people and making change.
Sheila & Bob. 2017
Photography, mixed media
Photography, mixed media
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Homelessâ&#x20AC;? is a project dedicated to raising awareness of homelessness, but also to bring some of the people and their stories to the forefront fo the movement. I decided to go out into the city of Pittsburgh in an attempt to learn more about the issue. I sat down with people and gathered their stories, which can be surrounding the images. I also purchased their signs, and display them with their photo, as the sign is a very personal part of their experience. These images are part of a larger collection in an effort to bring attention to these issues.
Someone #1 2017
Oil paint & gold leaf on panel
Diane Hiscox Atlanta, GA
HOME: Everyone is Someone. The figures are immediately recognizable as people sleeping under rough conditions. Each is an individual: alone or accompanied by a companion dog. The figures are painted with great intimacy, using oil paint and precious-metal leaf on wood panels, materials reserved historically for prestigious or sacred subject matter. The materials and style of painting are chosen for their capacity to attract the eye of the viewer and to draw the viewer to engage with the works in an intimate way.
Oil paint & gold leaf on panel
Diane Hiscox Atlanta, GA
I hope to draw the viewer to make certain associations: that each of us is precious, whether we live in a sleeping bag, a box, or a mansion. That any of us might be one or two bad choices or calamities from losing our safe housing. It is a reminder that the most holy people often chose to live in dire poverty. Finally, it is a critique of a society that tolerates such a dire inequity of resources. My choice to engage with this subject matter springs from reflections on my own experiences as a homelessâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;or otherwise marginalizedâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;youth. I am familiar with the stress, boredom, vulnerability, humiliations, and the difficult choices faced by people without a safe place to call home. I also know the exhilarating freedom that this choice can represent, particularly where the alternatives are more suffocating or physically or emotionally dangerous.â&#x20AC;?
Soft Target 2014
Olive & pitt pencil on paper mounted on wood
This work deals directly with the idea of public and private space and the way we are denied privacy when we are subjected to poverty and homelessness. I have used the image of a blanket as a transitional object that acts as a barrier between the public sphere and the figure. I was impacted both by images of the injured from global unrest and migration wrapped in blankets to protect, comfort, and shield them from public view, along with seeing the same people struggle to create a private space to sleep on a busy sidewalk in Los Angeles. Painting the blanket allows me to transform it and to create a transitory space, where the object has the ability to become something else. The barriers expose the ephemeral nature of the place that the figure occupies.
Red Pillow, Art Institute of Chicago 2018
Oil on canvas
Poverty and homelessness are rampant in this country. This painting is based on an experience I had on a recent trip to Chicago. A man slept on the sidewalk at the base of one of the lions at the Art Institute of Chicago, one fo the greatest museums in the world. How he came to be sleeping there is a story I will never hear. But I left with the feeling that we have to do better as a civilization. The image of him sleeping there has haunted me ever since.
Subject/Object No. 4 2017
David Glen Larson
West Hills, CA
After photographing a series of street portraits in 2017, I decided to explore the notion of subject and object, abstracting subject into object as a way of expressing the loss of identity or personhood that so many experience every day. Each sphere was made by warping the subjectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s portrait, so each portrait is contained within the sphere.
Subject/Object No. 5 2017
David Glen Larson
West Hills, CA
I believe art is a way for the universe to gaze into the mirror, a means of understanding itself. That belief is the spine of my work, which often deals with identity. My photography is as much about discovery as it is expression. I seek to harness not only those moments that capture each subject’s uniqueness, but also those moments that unite us and blur our individuality. As I reflect on myself and those around me, trying to understand who I am and what we are, the universe changes fractionally. Because it, like me—like all of us—is a work in progress.
Leaded Home 2018
Painted constructed wood
George Lorio Rockville, MD
Poverty limits options, including the choices for living spaces. Renting, even purchasing, homes are based on affordability. Older domestic spaces are overlaid with paint of various applications from multiple times, often containing lead. The surfaces break contaminating the rooms and poisoning the people, particularly children, living in the space.
On Edge 2018
Clay, glaze, stain, paint
Folly Beach, SC
The ubiquitous concrete block is both a dwelling and a partition, an obstruction and a comfort. On Edge speaks of the scattering of peoples across the globe where memories and lives are dispersed across geographical and cultural boundaries searching for a place to land.
____ is Where the Heart Is 2017
Hillel Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Leary Lake Ronkonkoma, NY
My sculpture and installation invite investigations of personal connections to the unconscious and potentially harmful. My work approaches identity and place through the use of symbol, archetype, and mark that incite an emotional gut-feeling in the tension between the abstraction of familiar objects, and the alien obscurity of deftly manipulated materials. In this work, objects hint at and deny their origins, charging the space between the familiar and the unknown. It is in this inhabited, uncomfortable space that we gain new perspective on that which is usually taken for granted. Evidence of bending, breaking, and deforming suspends objects in the midst of some impending kinetic force. I employ stasis and suspension as the dilation of time, the entanglement of thrill and terror that comes with the anticipation of what might happen next.
Feather Bed 2012
Pigeon feathers, brown paper bags, 2â&#x20AC;? brass tubing, wood
New York, NY
Feather Bed was done over a several month period where I collected pigeon feathers. Originally I wanted some feathers for a single art work that was about homelessness. The feathers are a metaphor for making or finding your bed. When I returned to the studio after 4-5 days of collecting pigeon feathers, I noticed that each day I had also collected brown paper bags to hold the feathers. The kind of brown paper bag used for holding small pint-size or half-pint size liquor bottles. I made the visual connection of drinking, homelessness, and pigeons. Living in the city under bridges, pigeons and homeless people overlap their need for shelter. I do not want to judge anybody about their particular habits, but want to see what is there. The brown bags with feathers gradually took different forms. This version utilizes coded message inherent in the material that asks do you belong or not?
No Hiding Place Down Here 2017
Fabric, rope, scrim, dirt drawing, movie/sound projection
My personal experiences of homelessness join documentary photography of Seattleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s growing homeless/tent population. Photographs and data culled from King County records are projected onto a tent out of screen scrim. I built the scrim tent one stitch at a time to bring a sense of grace to this desperate crisis. Thoughtful and careful construction was the key. Many times I had to start over. My patterns were inaccurate, my cutting was short, or my piecing flawed. Like the homeless and refugee crisis, there is no perfection to be found. Perhaps because I am a child of revolution and political asylum, my work is driven by existential questions that probe identity, history, and culture. It wrestles with conflicting moral intuitions, with the personal and the historic, conflating them with questions that bring archetypal material to light.
Graphite, colored pencil, & watercolor on paper & bamboo
These forms imply the makeshift blue tarps and scrap wood imagery often iconic of tent cities, like flimsy dimensional kites. The installation references the cumulative, transitory, and fragile nature of tent cities, particularly in Seattle, where the placement, treatment, and removal of tent cities has been quite a social and political issue in recent years. Often people look away from tent cities or even cross the road to avoid walking past. This piece encourages to viewer to engage instead.
Home, Not Home #3 2018
King Yan Fina Yeung
This work is part of a series that calls our attention to the issue of homelessness in urban spaces. As housing costs rise uncontrollably, many are forced to search for alternative living spaces or stay on the street. The homeless begin to redefine the meaning of home in their own ways. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Homeâ&#x20AC;? is no longer something to be found in a house or in a building, but can be created in a tent, or in cardboard boxes that lay claim to public space. What is public has become private in the homeless ecology. I use recycled cardboard as canvas to emphasize the value of otherwise throwaway materials. The threads on the painting tie people together who are displaced; these connections express the hope and strength of those who live on the street. The threads and nails create an imaginative canopy for the homeless, becoming a metaphor for a home.
America 2016 2016
Collage & string
Kandy Lopez Fort Lauderdale, FL
This piece illustrates the power and lack thereof of the poor communities within South Florida, specifically Liberty City and Opa Locka. Growing up around these areas and observing the disproportionate funding of these neighborhoods in comparison to South Beach and the other tourist locations has created a barrier, for me, in terms of what’s REAL Miami. I would like my work to showcase the authentic and sometimes nostalgic view of a “thriving” city. I want my images to help educate, communicate, and foster uncomfortable topics that we seem to look past or avoid in our multi-cultural society. Representing individuals within poor communities in the US, these portraits help me, as an Afro-Dominican American, come to terms with the way I too have adopted and performed identities of survival.
I Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Want Coins, I Want Change 2018
Cardboard, inkjet, image transfer
This body of work began when I became close friends with a woman named Ms. Frankie. She didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have many worldly items but the things she did have she would share with others. My friendship with Ms. Frankie sparked the questions in my head of why is homelessness such a large problem? Where is empathy? It is something that is far too uncommon, but it is a very powerful thing. As people, we need to feel not just listened to but understood. There is a gap between social classes, not just by dollar amounts but also by how the world is viewed. The average middle and upper-class person often has a hard time relating to someone who is homeless because they have never been in that position. I have created this body of work with the goal of helping wedge some of that gap between those two social classes.
Paper Houses 2018
Hillary Steel Silver Spring, MD
In the late ‘90s and early 2000’s, scandals at home, attacks on the US and war on foreign soil dominated the news. Unfortunately these issues and our national anxiety have not lessened. At that time, I began a series called “Current Events” that I’ve continued over the years. News articles of interest are collected and cut into strips. Simple looms are warped with cotton and the paper is handwoven into small units which are then sewn together. Paper Houses was made in 2018 and was prompted by my ongoing concern about the high cost and lack of affordable housing, eviction rates, and homelessness across our great country.
Person of Interests 2018
Digital photography on archival paper & ink
Playa del Rey, CA
Witnessing the human condition among the impoverished people of Los Angeles relays advocacy for their liberation and connection into the community. Exquisite lighting is dialed in to reveal the struggle of people trapped in the metropolis. Positive images subverts the status quo by uniting culturally different people together by seeing stories of who they are and who they could be against what is negatively portrayed in popular culture. On Sunset Boulevard, beyond Hyde and Chateau Marmont is where I noticed a divine light shining down upon an individual stationed for the entire night at a bus stop. The sighting lasted seconds, but I knew the current vernacular of â&#x20AC;&#x153;litâ&#x20AC;? would inspire my new photographic collection entitled, LIT.
The Lean-To 2018
The Lean-To is an example of the homeless in need of temporary shelter from the elements. It is not an attempt to create shelter but to draw attention for the need of all people to have a safe space to live.
What Was Once a Home (South Carpenter Street) 2015
Carbon pencil on toned paper
Landscapes can tell a story about the larger world they inhabit. This series of drawings documents foreclosed homes in the Chicago area, many of which are on Chicagoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s far south side. These houses were once cherished beauties, filled with light and warmth. Every shingle, each pane of glass, each baluster, each knob and handle was thoughtfully placed to form a home that was just right. A beacon of the American Dream. And now, these drawings show the houses as they are, as shadows of their former selves. Still standing as symbols of what they once were and the people they once held. They are relics of a culture of inequality, in which the most privileged are enabled and encouraged to live in excess while the most vulnerable are forced into increasingly desperate situations.
Colored pencil on deep matte photograph
Jessica McDaniel Mooresville, IN
My work utilizes the attachment to the idea of home and specific places of oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s past through the very real photographs of abandoned houses and the overlay of figures interacting with the spaces as memories. The homeless remember their past homes and often long to be able to return, even if it is just the nostalgia distorting the reality of their past. My work subtly highlights the issue of financial crisis and loss through the deteriorated spaces left behind by their previous inhabitants, as well as the material possessions sacrificed.
Mooresville, IN Colored pencil on deep matte photograph My work explores the Welsh word hiraeth; the idea of a homesickness for a place you cannot return, a home that maybe never was. I develop cinematic scenes of abandoned houses by incorporating traditional figure drawings using colored pencils directly on printed photographs to discuss lingering memories within the spaces. The passage of time is also important in my work, as it is demonstrated through the condition of the interiors, showing the neglect of the spaces through stages of vacancy. I transform decayed homes into emotionally haunting scenes to give a sense of loss and nostalgia through the interaction of the figures within the voids left behind. While nostalgia causes people to cling to the past, it is an illusion, or an idealized reality but not reality itself. The deteriorating spaces are representative of the distortion of memory, but also the experience of the emotion tied to them.
Do You See Me? 2018
Monica Santaella Mixed media (assemblage: wire & bag)
Baton Rouge, LA
One hot summer, I believe I saw a man with his bag. This man would stand in the hot sun for hours. A man and his bag. Was this bag all that he owned? Unfortunately, I have seen many others like this man. At least, I think I saw them. Very often, I have seen them under bridges. Other times, I remember having seen them roaming around the bookstore, the coffee shop, or at the Riverwalk. Otherwise, you can see what they leave behind. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know how to help. When I try to look at them, I cannot see them with a straight face. I feel powerless. Thus it feels like I can see through them. Maybe they just blend with the background.
The Hangman Prays ... 2017
Michael Angelo Gagliardi
High Springs, FL Wood, ceramic, chain, epoxy, & lighting element A lone man kneels and prays for his misery to end. He represents the prisoners, the POWs, the individuals trapped and lost in the system. They are removed from their home and isolated, and again looked at as less than human. Even when they are released they are given no skills to survive, treatment to deal with the trauma. Alone, they are no longer able to cope. We see them on our streets while we look at them like a side show. Despised, laughed at, blamed for their own plight with the only sympathy a coin tossed in a cup.
Homeless Figure 2017
Found materials, cloth, paper, wax, wire
Ronald Gonzalez Johnson City, NY
An imaginary figure made from old pipe cleaners, scraps of cloth, and debris at hand. As found materials once abandoned and on their own lacking essential meaning, now suggest the melancholy homeless of their forms and embodiments of misfortune and grief. The materials I use have been ravaged by possession and memory. Like us, they have endured with all their marks of desolation. My work speaks to their pathos as part of what is common to all things. These figures are a source of sorrow and gesture of accumulation expressing a sordid tone of angst. They are solitary and decaying personas still existing in this world set in their final place as imaginary beings of nostalgia, deformation, and mortality.
Becoming Invisible 2014
Charcoal & conté on paper
Clint Brown Corvallis, OR
Recently I’ve been struck by the growing numbers of people I see living on the street. I don’t remember anything like this before. Something has changed. I don’t want to preach. I feel conflicted around the subject. But what I do know is, as a subject, it’s not something I’ve previously considered. But now the homeless are ubiquitous and emblematic of a bigger question facing us all, individually and collectively. Drawings are not a proxy for the objects they depict. Rather, they can be vehicles for the perception and communication of one’s observations and reflections. Works of art can provide an experience that has more value if it is held conceptually, stirring the mind and emotions and challenging our sensibility beyond delighting our senses. I created these drawings not to draw likeness or comparisons—but to draw attention to a social concern that, far too often, we simply don’t want to see.
Oil on canvas
This painting depicts a well dressed Kardashianesque woman taking a selfie with a homeless man. The man’s head is lowered, definitely not a willing participant in this interaction. He pushes his possessions in a shopping cart when the woman sees him and stands next to him for a quick selfie. The reason for taking this photo is unclear. What is apparent, though, is that the world is divided between the “haves” and the “have nots.”
Food Network 2013
Emilio Maldonado St. Louis, MO
I use my memories of my upbringing in the Dominican Republic to generate the visual/ relational pieces by making sure of its second-hand object culture characteristics, which have imprinted within me a range of mixed feelings related to wealth, comfort, and value. With the object as unit of representation and its variable semiological interpretations, I strive to create pieces that start conversations which travel between art and the social realm. Food Network is an interpretation of the absurdity of wealth in the eyes of one who has witness generalized scarcity. The Food Network suggests a decadent representation of the blessings of the first world, portrayed as vomit, deriving from my own experience when I first saw the named channel.
Mixed media wood & graphite
This piece brings in the figure as disembodied and distorted parts, mixed with transfer prints of maps and rough, found housing construction materials which add to the conceptual texture and harshness of the journey and human resilience. It puts a face on these issues, and often in this series of work, the faces are those of children in the midst of survival.
Memory No. 19 (Give Me a Hand) 2015
My work medium is predominately porcelain. Some of my pieces combine ceramics and wire elements to create a quiet and contemplative charged space. My current artworks evoke childhood memories and repetitive daily activities to visualize different parts of myself. I am passionate about duplicating forms using mold making and slip casting technique. This process reveals my fascination with clay replication with subtle variations. Constant permutation is the core of my creative process. The progressive reduction of scale in this piece becomes a metaphor of the dissolution of the body into space.
El SueĂąo Americano 2016
J. Leigh Garcia
Because of the United Statesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; utilization of Latin American countries as economic satellites, an estimated 170,000 immigrants make unauthorized journeys across the Mexico-U.S. border each year. Often carrying nothing but backpacks and water jugs, these immigrants travel on foot through the hundred-degree desert heat of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Dehydration, exhaustion, injury, and hypothermia claim the lives of hundreds each year. Those lucky enough to survive take what work they can get in the United States. With no documentation, unauthorized immigrants have little to no power to stand up against unfair wages or work conditions. Undocumented immigrants often lack decent housing, job security, representation, and the ability to file grievances. After moving to the United States in hopes of a better life, these workers experience unjust work conditions with little economic freedom.
Soon It Will Be the Next Meal 2017
Edinburg, TX Oil on canvas This piece represents those that are abused and mistreated through the lack of food being provided. It is a view on the lives of those that are taken advantage of, and are not being treated well even when resources are available. The theme behind this work conveys an idea based on the social act of living in denial over issues of abuse, neglect, and poverty. These ideas are derived from personal experience and stories that have been passed along by relatives or others. This is a reminder of what others have gone through or are going through. A perspective is shown on the lack of consciousness of our actions towards others within the assimilation of society.
Job no. 2: My Life is a (Circus) Train Wreck 2017
Acrylic on canvas
Earning an art degree is one thing, but finding gainful employment in the field is another issue. After completing my MFA, I found teaching employment, not art, but becoming a Director in charge of a Residential Group Home for such disabled adults, teaching and managing for seven years while still seeking to be an art professor. Without a job, I became the biblical Job, homeless and without family as my wife filed for divorce. I did find full time teaching at a small rural community college; eventually remarried, and moved to the Dallas Metro teaching at a large community college for 13 years. Now, close to retirement, the new administration is not renewing contracts of many of us “older” professors, and I’m Job 2.0, looking for employment again. My artwork has always been autobiographical, and I’ve made analogies to Job, and also the Exodus, of “wandering” in the wilderness” seeking the Promised Land.
Blue Collar Harvest 2016
Oil on canvas board
My painting represents the people who worked hard with their hands to make a living to put food on the table. However remaining in poverty, their spirit is not broken, nor their faith shaken. I am moved by the drama of this country; the good and the bad, her birth and her history, her past and her present. When I paint, I am capturing these moments in timeâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;an event, a thought, a feeling, or a gesture. I work in oils mostly, in the studio and outside as a plein air artist. By painting what I love, my focus is to be the best artist I can be and to continue to grow and learn through my adventure in art.
Cents & Sensibility 2018 Fiber
For a family living on the financial edge, it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t take much to upset a delicate balance. illness, or even bad weather, can tip the scales and send a family that has been scrapting to get by into homelessness. According to NPR, 2.5 million children in the US are homeless at any given time. While not all are on the streets, many are in shelters, couch-surfing, or living in family vehicles.
Cents & Sensibility deals with the cost of living and its impact on the low wage worker. The numbers are for one month for a family of four in Centrla Louisiana. Included are wages for 40 hours at minimum wage (although often workers do not get that many hours), average area rent, utility, and grocery costs for a family of four, and bus fare for 10 rides a week to and from a job. Not included are costs for clothing and cleaning/grooming supplies, among other costs. Also included are poverty-level income and SNAP allotment for a family of four.
My Side of the Fence Line 2018
Acrylic on canvas
What ideas and emotions does the phrase “drive by” evoke? A typical response is fear, an assault, even death. But I challenge the audience with a different notion, the passive action of driving by—barely looking, doing nothing, feeling nothing, and, at worst, feeling resentment. In reality the positions are correlated. We must take a deeper look at issues of poverty to attempt to understand that it is a multifaceted phenomenon. Here is a man living in a poverty stricken area working everyday, yet the system is failing him on various levels. Or is it? Is working from his home a personal choice or is he restricted financially from establishing a business in the traditional sense? Who is the clientele? Why are they choosing his services versus other options? As long as we remain in the position of voyeur, as passive participants within society, these are questions that cannot be answered until the “fence line,” the barrier, is crossed.
Mother and Child 2015
To me, evidence of poverty gathered from personal observation, experience, authoritative writings, photographs, etc. are ineffective motivators unless they contain an element of rhythm and harmony that causes the viewer to opine on the universal qualities of poverty itself, i.e., the way in which it demolishes selected lives upon which a â&#x20AC;&#x153;great societyâ&#x20AC;? is built. What Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve done in this photograph is not present a gross spectacle of poverty but instead the simple rhythm and harmony of apparently impoverished people in their environment so as to provoke opinion and eventually action toward social justice.
Redlining (New Orleans) 2018
HOLC Map, magazines
Kim Rice Baltimore, MD
In the 1930’s the US Government made mortgages available through a program called the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation. In a process known as redlining, government officials outlined and color-coded neighborhoods on city maps. The neighborhoods deemed “declining” (yellow) or “hazardous” (red) were not considered for mortgages—these were integrated or non-white neighborhoods. This practice was legal until 1968. the residue of this institutional racism continues to segregate, allowing some communities to thrive while others suffer. The areas where individuals received mortgages were woven with “white” magazine flesh and all other neighborhoods cut out. There is an obvious correlation between homeownership, redlining, and poverty.
Undercurrent touches on the current immigration crisis and the millions of people leaving their homes and homeland. Many will face poverty as they escape intolerable situation. Through abstract means, I am attempting to address these ideas about home and homeland and the barriers that segregate us. Gaston Bachelard describes home in The Poetics of Space as an ideal and as a place we carry with us in our memory throughout our lives. Yet the underside of that idea si the current reality for millions of people. Home is an unstable, vulnerable, or transitory place leading some people to decide to abandon their homes in order to seek peace and shelter elsewhere. Those immigrants face an uncertain future with no guarantees of a better life ahead. Using diagrammatic imagery of maps from the regions affected by the immigration crisis and poverty, I overlay these maps with harder edge geometry as a metaphor for the boundaries, borders, and constraints of society.
AMoA Staff Catherine M. Pears Executive Director Megan Valentine Curator & Registrar Steve Farnsley Development & Community Relations Gar Pickering Marketing & Communications Cindy Blair Education & Outreach Nancy Noles Education & Outreach Bradly Wright Preparator & Facilities Assistant Jenny Gallent Office Administrator Madilyn Anderson Visitor Services
2018-2019 AMoA Board Members Zeb Winstead Chairman Charlie White Vice Chairman Larry Menache, M.D. Past Chairman Michael H.Davis Jonathan Dean Faye Flanagan Eamon Halpin, Ph. D. Lisa Harris
Guiyou Huang, Ph. D Nelda Laborde Trish Leleux Connie Mallory Spencer Martin Thomas McBride Krista Redmond Irma Rodriguez Karen Riley Simmons Carl Watson
933 Second Street, Alexandria, LA 71301 Phone: (318) 443-3458 â&#x20AC;˘ www.themuseum.org
Exhibition supported by
A cooperative efford funded by the Greater Alexandria Economic Development Authority (GAEDA)
933 Second Street Alexandria, LA 71301 318.443.3458 www.themuseum.org