February 10 - April 22, 2018
Memory and Identity
Memory and Identity
Memory and Identity
Beyond the Village
A Thousand Times. Everywhere. Elsewhere.
It Takes a Village is comprised of six exhibitions addressing the dynamic of working as a community through the subjects of family, race, gender, and age. Featured in the Main Gallery at MOAH are the works of celebrated assemblage artist Betye Saar and her daughters, artists Alison Saar and Lezley Saar. It Takes a Village will also showcase solo exhibitions of Wyatt Kenneth Coleman, Jane Szabo, and Richard S. Chow, with site specific installations by artists Lisa Bartleson and Scott Yoell.
Each of the artists featured in this exhibition explores the relationships and responsibilities of community. Betye, Alison, and Lezley Saar’s work consists of two and three-dimensional assemblages that examine history and identity through the juxtaposition of objects, photographs, mixed media, and fabric. The documentary photography of Lancaster resident Wyatt Kenneth Coleman chronicles the importance of engagement and oral history and the role it plays emphasizing the value of serving one’s community and family. Jane Szabo and Richard S. Chow present different work stylistically, but address similar themes of home, displacement, and sentimentality through conceptual photographs. Szabo records family history through objects while Chow’s images fabricate an imaginary history of what might have been if he had not been an immigrant. Lisa Bartleson’s large scale installation of hundreds of small hand-made houses explores the act of healing through community and engagement. The site specific work of Scott Yoell’s “Tsunami,” consisting of three thousand four-inch tall businessmen figures installed in a giant wave, represents the artist’s thoughts on the global economy and automation.
Memory & Identity: The Marvelous Art of Betye, Lezley & Alison Saar
Betye, Lezley and Alison Saar have created some of the most powerful, important and deeply moving art in our contemporary world. Their compelling works forge idiosyncratic constructions of social memory and personal identity, as well as the cultural histories underlying them. All three Saars assemble two- and three-dimensional works based on unexpected juxtapositions of form and content. They deploy the flotsam of material culture, from discarded architectural components (old windows, ceiling tiles, wall paper) to domestic detritus (washboards, buckets, shelves) to historic photographs and printed fabrics.
“I like things,” Betye asserted in a recent interview. “Every object tells a story. If I recombine them, they tell another story.” In their aesthetic practice of collecting and recombining objects, the Saars become what French philosopher Claude Levi-Strauss called bricoleurs: creators who arrange preexisting articles and images to produce dramatic visual compositions. Levi-Strauss expanded the French term bricoleur (a “Do-It-Yourself” handyman) to include anyone who works with the materials at hand, cobbling together disparate parts to create novel solutions.
All of the Saars use recycled materials not generally considered “appropriate” art media. Modern art academies, founded in Europe in the seventeenth century, had privileged oil paint on canvas and cast bronze as elite, “high art” media. In contrast, creations in jewelry, textiles and ceramics were considered “low art” or crafts. When the Saars employ objects like handkerchiefs and old books as painting surfaces, or tin ceiling tiles and buckets as sculpture, they violate long-held boundaries between high and low arts. Their material contraventions parallel the artists’ transgressions of identity-based binaries such as male/female, culture/nature and master/slave.
Wyatt Kenneth Coleman: Beyond the Village
Wyatt Kenneth Coleman is a freelance photojournalist whose career spans more than fifty years. While serving in the military during the Vietnam War, he studied at the U.S. Air Force Photography School, gaining skills that would benefit him in both his military and artistic careers. Coleman has dedicated his life to documenting social justice movements and people who strive to make a difference in the world around them.
Coleman’s dedication to helping others is evident in both his artistic practice and humanitarian contributions. In addition to documenting the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Coleman established a collaboration with Coretta Scott King in 1979, which remained active until her death. Coleman was interested in the effect that the Civil Rights Movement had on the lives of ordinary people, stating, “When a person is committed and makes a contribution to their community, lives are changed and doing the right thing is really key.” His work documents every-day people participating in non-violent activism by committing acts of kindness and working towards social justice. Coleman seeks to emphasize the importance that engagement and oral history play in passing down the value of serving one’s community and family.
Wyatt Kenneth Coleman has certifications from the Winona School of Professional Photography, the University of Minnesota and Santa Fe Photographic workshops. Coleman’s work has been shown in publications including 3M, Ebony and Jet Magazines and The Daily Word. Coleman has also been awarded for his selfless volunteer service in the communities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and was recognized for his volunteer work at the Elm Avenue Community Garden by Assemblyman Tom Lackey, in addition to receiving an award from Lancaster City Council for his contributions to the community.