Humanly Possible: The Empathy Exhibit at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design

NEW EXHIBITION AT MIAD AIMS TO FOSTER EMPATHY IN CURRENT DIVISIVE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL CLIMATE

In our current divisive social and political landscape, the newest exhibit at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) asks viewers to do what lately seems rather difficult: feel empathy. "Humanly Possible: The Empathy Exhibition" is on view in MIAD's Frederick Layton Gallery January 12 – March 10The public reception is Friday, January 19, 5 – 9 p.m. on Winter Gallery Night. "Humanly Possible: The Empathy Exhibition" is sponsored in part by the Mary L. Nohl Fund of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

"The best way to avoid empathy is to avoid sensorial contact," says exhibit curator John Schuerman. In this exhibit, viewers cannot avoid such contact. Instead, they are immersed in the works of 12 artists who have varied perspectives. While internalizing the experiences of others through art, viewers are challenged to engage their potential for empathy, and ultimately decide whether to exercise it.

Participants include seven artists from the exhibit's original Minneapolis run and five new artists, like recent Mary L. Nohl Fellowship winner Lois Bielefeld of Milwaukee. Her photography and digital media work explores the power and complexity of gender identity. Raoul Deal, also of Milwaukee and new to the exhibit, displays large-scale woodcuts that address the difficulty of celebrating one's Mexican heritage in a society that can be hostile toward immigrants. Work by Juliane Shibata, Tina Blondell, Inna Valin, Chase Boston, Christopher E. Harrison, Nooshin Hakim and Peter B. Nelson (all from the original exhibition) and Liza Sylvestre, Gudrun Lock and Sue Coe (new to the exhibition) is also on view.

Special programming:

  • Thursday, February 1, 6 p.m. – Empathy Through the Visual Arts: An Artist's Discussion Three of the exhibition's artists (Lois Bielefeld, Tina Blondell and Gudrun Lock) along with curator John Schuerman and moderator Leslie Fedorchuk discuss the concept of empathy and its manifestation in the visual arts. Reception to follow.
  • Thursday, February 15, 7 p.m. – Empathy, Connections and Borders: An Evening of Poetry and Storytelling A night of visual and oral storytelling between artists and writers from Milwaukee and Minneapolis exploring empathy, creating human connections and crossing borders. Performers include Michael Kleber-Diggs, Anais Deal-Marquez, Kavon Cortez-Jones, Dinorah Marquez, Isela Xitlali Gómez and Eli Avalos.
  • Thursday, March 1, 7 p.m. – 100 Lullabies (Lullaby Songs for Refugees) An experiential platform for listening to stories of war, face to face with artists who grew up during war in the Middle East. Audience members will be invited to sing and record a song of comfort or lullaby in their own language for children who are affected or displaced from their motherland by war. Participants include: Nooshin Hakim Javadi, Pedram Baldari and Katayoun Amjadi.

MIAD's galleries are free and open to the public, Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Free gallery tours are available at miad.edu/gallerytours.

 

Article covering the exhibition published in the Milwaukee Journal. 

Between the Sky and the Earth

Between the Sky and the Earth

Opening Saturday, July 1st, 5-8 PM

 

Between the Sky and the Earth

 

Featuring works by Liza Sylvestre, Cory Imig, Karen Spiering, Preetika Rajgariah, Sue Kay Lee, Courtney Cross, and Dulcee Boehm, curated by Sharmyn Cruz Rivera.

 

Through August 5th.

 

At Roots & Culture

 

Roots & Culture Contemporary Art Center

1034 N MILWAUKEE

CHICAGO, IL 60642

HOURS

THU 4-7

FRI 4-7

SAT 12-6

or by appointment.

 

Opening reception and artists’ book release:

Saturday, July 1st, 5-8  pm

 

Between the Sky and the Earth considers the mutually constitutive nature of human identity and locality and how this relationship is critically informed by the production of space, culture, gender and language. Dealing with spatialized subjectivity is central to these artists’ work, who through visual poetics, site-specific intervention, and inquiries of materiality, point at desire as the axis of human’s relationship to land. Although Western civilization has corrupted this desire with its hunger for conquest, at its core this longing is rooted in the need to belong. The impetus to belong connects us to a network of spaces which, once organized, produce place. This longing illuminates humans fractured relationship to land and nature. The intensity of this divorce coupled with capitalist ideals “exacerbate the effects of the alienation and fragmentation in contemporary life” (Miwon Kwon). Yet, we question with urgency how our identity is bound to locality and how cultural production fits within globalization’s vision.

 

Liza Sylvestre’s work collapses language to destabilize content and amplify miscomprehension, exposing the fragility and vulnerability of communication. Preetika Rajgariah’s use of language is compromised by the textiles she uses, delving into politics of gendered materiality and exoticization. In Courtney Cross’ video the artist performs a long burial ritual that reunites the body with the earth, a meeting that may not signal death itself. Cory Imig’s intervened photographs subvert the space represented and propose an alternative version of the landscape. In a similar vein, Dulcee Boehm photographs of potholes pose the paradox of superfluous labor and how this transpires contemporary production of space. Sue Kay Lee’s textile sculpture shows different hand poses that conflate the politics of gesture and hermeneutics of non verbal communication.

 

The exhibition is accompanied by the publication of an artists’ book featuring work by the seven exhibiting artists and seven Chicago-based artists: Ruby Thorkelson, Carla Fisher Schwartz, Bobby Gonzales, Rami George, Danny Giles, Matt Brett, and Jessica Harvey.

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