Art & Activism: An Exhibition About Change
opens August 25 at the MACC’s Schaefer International Gallery
Art and Activism: An Exhibition About Change, presented by Maui Arts & Cultural Center from Aug. 25 to Oct. 31 in the Schaefer International Gallery, features new work from six nationally selected artists who address contemporary topics relevant to our time.
Hawaii activists currently work on many fronts — education, land use, sustainability, discrimination and equity, reclamation of sacred spaces, and our relationship to the natural environment.
“The overall focus of this exhibition will enhance public awareness and encourage thoughtful process and engagement in social and civic discussion, for a better understanding of the complex issues that humans face today,” explains Gallery Director Neida Bangerter.
Exhibiting together for the first time, these artists push the traditional boundaries through concentrated art practices, and a shared platform of engagement through work that is evocative and important to the visual dialog of today’s changing world.
Visitors to the exhibit are encouraged to consider the power of politically driven art and how it impacts society.
The anchor work in the exhibition is an enormous print project entitled “American Procession” by Sandow Birk and Elyse Pignolet, a husband-and-wife team from Los Angeles. Together, they collaborated on “American Procession” (2017), a panorama of American icons and ideology made from multiple woodcuts of 20 blocks of plywood that depict lesser-known figures who made remarkable contributions to their times, taken from 100 years of American history.
This work plays off of the “Procession of Princes,” a massive mural on the exterior wall of the Dresden Castle in Germany (1870) and the concept of heroism. Two 17-foot-long woodblock prints represent opposing sides of the political spectrum, spanning U.S. history from the colonies to the present day. A third joining piece depicts debris of Americana — symbolic in placement. The work offers an approach to rethink ideologies on the left and the right of the political spectrum. These works were printed by master printer Paul Mullowney, who is also featured in the exhibit.
New York based Orly Cogan refers to her work as an “update on female stereotypes and struggles.”
Her art brings women into the forefront — telling their own stories both as the artists and as the subject matter, with textiles that show an irreverent take on the conventions of femininity. She does this by embroidering, painting and drawing contemporary feminist imagery onto vintage fabrics. Her art deals with history, tradition, mythology, fairy tales, nature, humor, irony and intimacy. Her subjects are often female heroines that allude to their anxieties, insecurities, vanities and desires through visual narrative.
Kanani Miyamoto is reclaiming the narrative for women in art. Miyamoto’s hybrid skill set combines large scale woodblock prints, screen prints, cut paper and hand-painted elements that let viewers wander through her fluid organic spaces, as she leads us through the complexity of intergenerational trauma and impacts of colonialism. Her imagery draws from Japanese Buddhist folklore, riffing on issues of her European, Hawaiian and Japanese heritage.
Paul Mullowney, a master printer and print publisher, runs Mullowney Printing in the Mission District of San Francisco. Well known for his time spent on Maui as Founder of The Hui Press, Mullowney has moved into intricate collaborations with international artists. His work in the exhibit reflects both the traditions of Eastern and Western printmaking, but especially the Japanese themes of Buddhism, Shinto, Noh and Kabuki Theater, tattooing and the iconography that informs these traditions through installation.
Maui artist Abigail Romanchak sees her prints as a way to empower and assert a Hawaiian sense of identity and culture through art. Greatly influenced by the conceptual terrain of human imprint in nature, her work reveals an essential alignment between multiple systems of marking.
Her recent collagraph prints offer an environmentally driven commentary on Hawaii’s native birds, climate change and causes of their endangerment and extinction.
EXHIBIT-RELATED PUBIC PROGRAMS
The artists will be on island participating in public and student programming and sharing their approach to conceptual theories in art designed to engage and stimulate community dialog.
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Artists talks — free to the public
Catch a lively discussion with Sandow Birk, Elyse Pignolet and UHMC American History professor Liana Horovitz beginning at 2 p.m Aug. 25, followed by a walk-through with the artists and audience Q&A. (This event will be videotaped.)
Maui artist Abigail Romanchak will give a gallery walkthrough from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Sept. 18 while talking about approaches to printmaking.
Kanani Miyamoto and Paul Mullowney will discuss their work in the gallery followed by a demonstration at the UHMC campus art department, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 16.
Kanani Miyamoto will discuss her work from noon to 1:15 p.m. Oct. 17, joined by PaulMullowney who will give a talk on the work of Sandow Birk, Elyse Pignolet and himself.
Parts of this exhibition contain mature content for young children. Parents are advised to preview the exhibit first. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, as well as before select Castle Theater shows and during intermissions. Admission is free. The gallery will be closed Sept. 27 and 28.