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New display at gallery focuses on oppression in history

by Emily Adams - Copy Editor
Tue, Feb 6th 2018 10:00 pm

An artist named Jerzy Kosinski once said, “the principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.” This principle sets the standard in this semester’s featured art gallery in the Tower Fine Arts. The collaboration offers a thought-provoking display. 

Each work is worth a conversation. The collection has been named Southern Sampler: Contemporary Artists of the New South. The gallery opened on Tuesday, Jan. 30, and will end on Sunday, Mar. 4. The weekly open viewing hours are at 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday and also 1 to 4 p.m. On Sunday. Feb. 21, Masud Olufani will be coming for a guest presentation at 7 p.m. in Tower Fine Arts in room 2203.

The gallery features many different works of art created by artists Chadwick Tolley, Charmaine Minniefield, Carolyn Ford, Annie Lemanski, Scott Keen, Gary Monroe, Masud Olufani and Tamara Reynolds. The combination of pieces by these artists portrays a variety of colors, lines and images. And while there is a diverse array of media and template being used, all the images evoke a need for understanding change. 

The exhbit itself was eye opening and serene. The pieces shown ask us to remember our past and that featured feeling of regret to encourage change. 

Yet, the atmosphere manages to highlight the struggles the South faces today to hold on to the pure parts of their heritage that are innocent in nature. When I spoke with the gallery director and curator, Timothy Massey, we toured the gallery and he talked with me about the exhibits development. 

“In art, I do not believe in absolutism. We can put together a show with an intent in mind, but in the end when you present, people will think what they want. The intent here,” he continues, “is to give notherens a sample of what the South is like. Not everything but just the tidbits. Mostly it is not evident but when looking at big cities and art, you can really see southerners have begun to take on a more progressive attitude.” 

The South has been historically known for its old-fashioned traditions. From the Civil War up until today, we have seen much change and progress. But when can we pat ourselves on the back for work well done? This gallery reminds us that the answer is not yet. While there have been changes to fight for equality, there is still a lot that can be done to push for a more accepting and open-opportunity community. 

The gallery is set up so when you enter from the left and move in a clockwise spiral around the room, the images can be perceived as walking through time and space. On the first wall, one can view art that flashes back to when our country did nothing against blatant segregation. One display even portrays a reenactment of an old drinking station when businesses would label water fountains to segregate people by color.  

Continuing on the opposite wall and crossing over a series of abstract pieces, there is a portion of illustrations. These were created by mixed media on paper that resemble newspaper propaganda. According to Massey, these wall pieces are only four parts in a series of over 20  telling a story about a man in the Old South.  

Right next to these illustrations are a series of photographs.  Depicted are people of different ages and socio-economic stages of life. This combination evokes a considerably consistent theme. People always seem to want change, and there has been quite an amount of work done, but to honor the justice made so far, we need to keep going in order to completely create an equal reality for people in vastly different situations. 

The next section of the gallery mostly depicts nature in a floral, sweet, southern way. And finally there is a dream-like collage with the repeated image of toy car throughout it. As children, we are innocent and have a fresh view of the world, however, as age comes, so do experiences, and people end up having limited perceptions because of the environments they are in. 

The extent of the message I perceived while viewing the gallery was that while there has been a lot of work done to start ending the hardships endured, there are still many effects around today that cannot be erased overnight. 

Just because we acknowledged the decisions that were made before were wrong, their actions still leave an impact. And it is naive to assume all our work is done. 



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