What: Memory: Shadow & Light Exhibition Opening Reception
Where: Santa Fe Art Institute
When: November 13 @ 5-7pm
How Much: free
What: Memory: Shadow & Light Exhibition
Where: Santa Fe Art Institute
When: November 14 – December 31, 9am-5pm M-F
How Much: free
In 2009, through the Memory: Shadow & Light visiting artist lecture and workshop series, the SFAI has been exploring the role art plays in the formation and preservation of societal or individual memory. Many of the outstanding artists participating in the season will have work in the 2009 Memory: Shadow & Light Exhibition opening November 13th with a reception from 5-7pm: photographer Gay Block, realist painter Rackstraw Downes, photographer David Maisel, draughtsman & sculptor James Drake, blacksmith Tom Joyce, sculptor Susan York, photographer Susan Meiselas, and filmmaker Godfrey Reggio. In addition, the SFAI is hosting an installation work, “Utopia,” by Cuban artist Roberto Diago.
Without memory we have no past and therefore no way of contextualizing the present or the future. Our memories provide knowledge about all aspects of life without which the world makes no sense. Memory, however, is also shaped by the present; our perception of the past is continually influenced by the present, which means that memory is fluid and therefore changeable. Because memory is not just an individual, private experience but is also part of the collective domain, cultural memory has become a topic in every part of study and practice.
As a portrait photographer, Gay Block began in 1973 with portraits of her own affluent Jewish community in Houston and later expanded this study to include South Miami Beach and girls at summer camp. Her 1992 landmark work with writer Malka Drucker, RESCUERS: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust, both a book and traveling exhibit, has been seen in over fifty venues in the US and abroad. In 2003 Block’s 30-year portrait of her mother in photographs, video, and words, Bertha Alyce: Mother exPosed, was published and began as a traveling exhibit. Also published in 2003 was another collaboration with Drucker, White Fire: A Portrait of Women Spiritual Leaders in America. In 2006, Block re-photographed women who were girls in her 1981 series from Camp Pinecliffe, twenty-five years before.
2009 MacArthur Fellow Rackstraw Downes is a British-born realist painter and author. Downes’ work combines the familiar with a sense of minimalism. His long, sprawling landscapes lack human subjects, yet they hint at man’s interaction with the environment. The large public spaces in his work explore the effects of light and atmosphere and look to capture a specific moment in time. Downes’ paintings are full of meticulous detail gained from months of regular plein-air sessions. Downes’ work is in the collections of many museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; New York, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
For more than twenty years, photographer David Maisel has chronicled the tensions between nature and culture in his large-scaled photographs of environmentally impacted landscapes. In the multi-chaptered series Black Maps, Maisel’s aerial images become sublime meditations on what the curator Anne Tucker has termed “the engaging duality between beauty and repulsion.” In Maisel’s recent project, Library of Dust, he continues to investigate a zone bordered by aesthetics and ethics. The series depicts individual copper canisters, each containing the cremated remains of patients from a state-run psychiatric hospital, whose bodies have been unclaimed by their families. Maisel has recently been an Artist in Residence at both the Getty Research Institute and at the Headlands Center for the Arts.
Renowned artist James Drake has presented his figurative, narrative art internationally, receiving early critical praise for his dramatic steel sculptures, drawings and video installations. Drake is one of those astoundingly versatile artists who has managed to create accomplished, distinctive work in a number of media. In the process, he has deployed a consistent vocabulary of images relating to art history, weaponry, the fine line between savagery and civilization, and life on the densely populated bilingual Juarez-El Paso border. Drake characterizes himself as a narrative artist, albeit one who is more interested in vignettes and fragments than in storytelling.”
Tom Joyce is an artist, designer, and blacksmith, who since 1977 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has forged sculpture, architectural ironwork and public art for projects throughout the United States. Joyce infuses many of these works with meaning by celebrating the inherited histories represented by the material he uses. In both public and private commissions, he encourages community members to participate in the making process by donating ferrous materials discarded in and collected from the landscape or particular iron objects that hold significance to the owner. From the Rio Grande Gates, forged from refuse retrieved from the river for the Albuquerque Museum of Art, to massive iron sculptures forged from industrial scrap, Joyce continues to re-examine the social, political, economic and historical implications of using iron in his work.
Sculptor Susan York represents the new generation of minimal artists. Every aspect of her life demonstrates a spiritual determination to pare down to the essentials: the way she speaks and engages with issues, her studio practice, and her art reflect her strength of vision. York is an artist-alchemist who transforms basic carbon in the form of graphite into something silvery and magical. As has been York’s practice since she was young, her ideas reveal themselves slowly. Time is an important part of the process and the result is powerful and engaging art that takes the viewer to a place of immense calm and subtle tension.
Susan Meiselas is an American photographer best known for her work covering the political upheavals in Central America in the 1970s and ’80s. Meiselas’ process has evolved in radical and challenging ways as she has grappled with pivotal questions about her relationship to her subjects, the use and circulation of her images in the media, and the relationship of images to history and memory. Since the 1970s, questions of ethics raised by documentary practice have been central to debates in photography. Perhaps no other photographer has so closely and consistently represented and participated in these debates than Meiselas. Her insistent engagement with these concerns has positioned her as a leading voice in the debate on contemporary documentary practice.
Godfrey Reggio is a pioneer of a film form that creates poetic images of extraordinary emotional impact for audiences worldwide. Reggio is prominent in the film world for his QATSI trilogy. (In July of 2009, Koyaanisqatsi will be performed LIVE at the Hollywood Bowl by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Philip Glass Ensemble.) His essays of image and music present in his words an artopsy of that which is hidden in plain sight, ordinary daily living. His cinematic collaboration with Philip Glass has extended over a period of thirty years. Currently they are working on an anarchic-comedic film set in the ruins of modernity. Reggio has a history of service not only to the environment, but with street gangs and community organization. Born in 1940, he is a seventh generation New Orleanean. He entered the Christian Brothers, a Roman Catholic Order, at age fourteen and was relieved from his final vows at age twenty-eight. He is a frequent lecturer on art, cinema, philosophy and technology. His filmography additionally includes Anima Mundi (1992) and Evidence (1995).
It would be difficult to name a contemporary Cuban artist who has enjoyed more critical and commercial success than Juan Roberto Diago Durruthy. But to hear it from Diago (everyone calls him “Diago”), success has never been high on his list of priorities. “If people like what I’m doing, fine,” he says. “If not, I just keep going on.”
People have liked what he’s doing at least since 1995, when Cuba’s National Fine Arts Museum awarded him the Juan Francisco Elso Prize. Diago’s work has been shown at the Venice Biennial and at the International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC) in Paris.
Diago, 37, has a preference for rough subject matter and raw materials. Slavery is a theme to which he comes back again and again. He makes paintings and conceptual installations with things he finds around his neighborhood – bits of wood, plastic bottles, rusty metal. Some theoreticians use the word “maroonage” to describe his work, drawing a parallel between Diago’s acts of “cultural resistance” and the 18th- and 19th-century slave rebellions in the Americas.