Author: Brenda McNary
While so much of my attention is focused on the intense political rhetoric between candidates, pundits and friends in the election, it is easy to ignore the power images carry in a campaign. Occidental’s presentation of “The Red & The Blue” multimedia group exhibition in Weingart features the work of prominent professional artists such as Shepard Fairey. The show opened last Thursday and will run until Nov. 20, offering a unique opportunity for viewers to reflect on the problems of the current administration and garner excitement for future changes.
Jason Manley, studio shop and gallery manager for Weingart, chose to curate the political art show this election season not just to incite the votes of the Occidental community, but also to explore the different ways in which artists approach these topics. With works ranging from Kim Ables’s “Smog Plate Series” (where images on the plates were created when exposed to smog), to the visceral “Abu Grahib” lithograph by Richard Serra, the show set out to present a diverse array of media. “I wanted to show a variety of approaches to artists who work with political content in a compelling manner, while representing a full spectrum of mediums,” Manley said.
The show features video, installation, print and interactive art forms from the subtle to the blatant, but the standout piece is Shepard Fairey’s now iconic “Hope” poster for the Obama campaign. Spencer Elden, an intern for Fairey, connected the grassroots beginnings of Fairey’s now ubiquitous “Obey” street art project to Obama’s similarly community based campaign strategy. “All it takes are interns cutting out stencils to create a political force,” Elden said. “Guerilla street art mobilizes people for a cause, political or not, and presents an incredibly accessible medium to voice opinion.”
“The Red & The Blue” comes as a pleasant surprise given the gallery’s usual focus on student art, and the display of professional art indicates some of the greater changes happening in the department. “We do hope to do more with the gallery, budget permitting, including bringing in professional artists, and creating more opportunities for students to initiate their own shows.” Manley said. In the meantime, we can look forward to more great work in the senior art comps show on Dec. 4.
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