FAU Exhibition Features Campaign Paraphernalia and Art Related to the Current Presidential Election
BOCA RATON (August 5, 2008) – The University Galleries in Florida Atlantic University’s School of the Arts in the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters presents Political Circus: A 3 – Ring Reflection on the 2008 Election Campaigns, an exhibition presenting election campaign paraphernalia and contemporary artworks examining the current presidential campaign. The exhibition will take place from Friday, September 5 through Saturday, November 1 in the Ritter Gallery on FAU’s Boca Raton campus, 777 Glades Road. There will be an opening symposium and reception on Friday, September 5 from 6 to 9 p.m. The exhibition and reception are free and open to the public.
The first “ring” of Political Circus, which was selected by Jane Caputi, professor of Women’s Studies at FAU, features items such as bumper stickers, posters, t-shirts, buttons, hats and other paraphernalia related to this historic election. The section is called Hating Hillary, Baiting Barack, and Mocking McCain and includes themes such as “Not One of ‘U.S.’;” “Untrustworthy Mulatto;” “The Other” and “Hillary as Cracked and Crazed.” Caputi, along with Sika Dagbovie, FAU assistant professor of English, provides analysis and critique that directly reference the ways that sexist, racist, homophobic and age stereotypes are echoed in mainstream media.
“These artifacts indicate the resentment of some quarters of American society against any sharing of power with non-traditional groups, as well as a retrenchment and continuing reinvention of malicious stereotypes based on sex, race, religion, age, sexual preference and gender,” said Caputi. “It is essential to participate in and extend a public airing and discussion of these trends.”
The second “ring” of the exhibition features six artists from the eastern seaboard who responded to an open artists call to submit proposals for works that deal with or respond to the 2008 election. Many of the selected works employ fabric or textile media such as rugs and a knitting circle. New York-based artists Cat Mazza and Sabrina Gschwandtner have exhibited their conceptually oriented knitting works together before in Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting, a 2007 exhibition at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York City. For the Ritter Gallery exhibition, Mazza will show her Stitch for Senate that consists of 100 knitted helmet liners personalized with the stitched name of each U.S. Senator. Another fabric-based object is Pip Brant’s The Flying Carpet, an interactive rug combining the geography of “the fertile crescent” and Black Hawk helicopters. Other works in this section include Atlanta-based Michi’s poster and button campaign for an imagined candidate named “Petro,” and two flag photo-collages by University of Miami Art Professor Tom Lopez.
The third “ring” of the exhibition combines artworks selected from area collections which range from subtle investigations of American politics, race and culture by internationally recognized artists. This includes Paul McCarthy, whose video combines images of Disneyland and Adolph Hitler; Kara Walker, whose trademark silhouetted images are generated from her interpretation of slave narratives; and Jenny Holzer, who presents her Inflammatory Essays that the artist posted anonymously in the streets of New York in the late 1970s.
This ring also includes a project created by New York-based artist Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung. Hung’s more recent animated video work, Washington is Hollywood for Ugly People and Election/Erection, will be featured in an installation the artist created with the assistance of FAU art students. These works ingeniously and unapologetically satirize both sides of the political aisle that voted for the Iraqi war and all of the 2008 pre-primary presidential hopefuls. Hung is a masterful collage artist who combines thousands of electronic images to create animated videos that are both simultaneously crude and highly crafted.
A central element in the Political Circus exhibition will be an open forum for visitors and students to voice their opinions by making their own works of art, memorabilia or paraphernalia that the gallery will allow to be hung on a special section stationed early on in the exhibition.
University Galleries exhibitions are made possible in part by the State of Florida’s Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts; The Palm Beach County Cultural Council; the R.A. Ritter Foundation; and individual contributors to the University Galleries. The University Galleries are open Tuesday through Friday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Class and group tours are welcome during public hours or at alternative times by appointment. For more information, call 561-297-2966 or visit www.fau.edu/galleries.
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