This exhibit thinks about the word “degenerate.”
Degenerate, (dĭ-jĕn′ər-ĭt, adj., n.; dɪˈdʒɛn əˌreɪt, v.)
1. Having declined, as in function or nature, from a former or original state.
2. Morally corrupt or given to vice.
1. An immoral or corrupt person.
2. a person who has declined, esp. in morals, from a type considered standard.
3. a person or thing that reverts to an earlier stage of culture, development, or evolution.
4. a sexual deviate.
1. Decline or deteriorate physically, mentally, or morally.
In 1937 Hitler and the Nazis basically declared any new form or manner of art degenerate, and in turn, also the people who created it. Looking back it is clear where the degeneracy resided, and many of those artists are considered modern masters.
Below you will find the names of all the artists in this show, with links to websites and other online presences. You will also find statements by the artists of what their work in the show is about and/or how they see their practice having an effect on the social and political fabric.
These artists are varied and diverse in identity, personal story, and artistic approach. One of the things they have in common is that they see their art as a way to affect the fabric of society in a way that reaches beyond the purely aesthetic.
Some of these artists see their work as a way to draw attention to a particular issue they care about or point out the insanity of our present approaches to a problem. Some even use their art as a means of direct action or ongoing activism.
For others it is about giving witness to the injustices they see. They want to give a louder voice to people who are seldom heard or make visible those our society chooses not to see.
Some artists themselves feel marginalized because of race, gender, age, or sexual identity, and use their art as a means of personal empowerment that can also inspire others.
There are also artists here who choose to advocate for the land and its creatures. To remind us of what we have and what we need to nurture and protect.
And then some of the artists do not have any direct commentary on political issues, but the nature of their work helps us develop our capacity for creative thinking; to be able to look at anything and see it as not so hard-edged or easy to discern; to understand that not all that is beautiful or worthy of attention is tangible.
In all cases these artists care deeply about our community, our country, our planet, and the humans and other creatures who call it home. They see their work as an artist as one way to resist the trends in our country to put profit above people, to dominate and exploit the environment instead of provide stewardship, and to declare one way of thinking, acting, or looking as more American than another.
There are so many parallels between 1930s Germany and what is going on in the US today. We ask, who is the degenerate today? How do we reverse our own decline? Where does our responsibility lie and what do we do about it
– Allison Ruby, Curator
Artists in this show:
(Alphabetical by last name.)
“My art explores the process of arranging – and rearranging – our lives. As I wrestle with this theme, I’m working to create art that reflects the lives we create, as we continually add, subtract and compose the many parts of our being. Doing so can be slow, and even painful, as self-doubt tries to creep in and take us off track.”
“My work explores the relationships that exist among humans, animals, and ecosystems, particularly in terms of the food chain, raw materials, and the human tendency to exert control over natural systems. It explores existential quandaries such as what it means to be a human today, how we can live in the world responsibly, and what our obligation is to do so.”
SEAN CONNAUGHTY objects are harbingers of dramatic changes that are rapidly approaching humanity. These futuristic, techno-primitive objects stem from a deep connection with the natural world, a love of science fiction and hopes for the future of humankind and nature. Connaughty discovers afresh the principles of the physical world from the vantage of an artist’s mindset. Scientific principles, physics and ecology are understood through experimentation and experience.
YOUSIF DEL VALLE
Facebook/Yousif Del Valle
JUSTINE DI FIORE
Facebook/Justine Di Fiore Instagram: @justinedifiore
JACKSON DUIN is a 13 year old artist, art enthusiast, and blogger. He lives in the Lyndale neighborhood of Minneapolis.
DAVID FEINBERG is a painter and an Associate Professor of drawing and painting in the Art Department at the University of Minnesota for the past forty six years. He is also the director of the Voice To Vision documentary project, featuring video documentaries that record the process of survivors of genocide working with an interdisciplinary team of diverse student and professional artists to transform their experiences into works of art. These artworks have been displayed nationally in universities, museums, and art centers since 2003.
BRIAN FRINK was designated “City Pages 2012 Artist of the Year” for his work on the organization Rural American Contemporary Artists (RACA). He is currently a professor of art at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where he also serves as the chair of the department. Brian maintains an active exhibition schedule and has work in many public and private collections.
“Any human activity that asks the question Why?’ becomes a political statement. It is a statement questioning the status quo and the perceived order of things.”
Facebook/Brian Frink Artwork at Poor Farm Studios
PAMELA GAARD’s paintings, sculptures, and photographs have exhibited in over fifty exhibitions in the US and Europe, including locally at Instinct Gallery, the Walker Art Center, and the Hennepin History Museum. For the last decade her work in health and wellness has immersed her in the large, vibrant community of Somali immigrants in Minneapolis, which brought her to create portraits of Somali-Americans in Minneapolis, along with other friends, colleagues and neighbors, in a project called Faces of Minneapolis. In 2014 her solo exhibition, Shalom/Nabad, presented portraits of individuals from the Somali and Jewish communities, and her research with elders of both communities revealed commonalities in the two disparate diasporas.
“I believe that we are inextricably tied to our roots. My work draws on my experiences growing up in southern Florida as a Cuban refugee. . . Through my use of scattered images of home and place and time, I attempt to reclaim my Cuban culture. I want the viewer to feel like they know more about the immigrant’s process of cultural assimilation and the search for identity in a new world.”
CHRISTOPHER E. HARRISON has exhibited locally, nationally, and internationally. He is currently an Arts Educator at the Walker Art Center. His studio is in North Minneapolis, where he creates paintings, drawings, sculpture, and collage.
Facebook/Christopher.e.harrison1 Instagram: @charrchr
“As a child of the 1950s, when career options were limited and gender identified, I continue to push against glass ceilings, structural impediments and learned behaviors that limit women’s accomplishments. The feminist lens through which I view the world and make art is supported by research. One research tool I use is crowdsourcing to collect information and content for the artwork. When I surveyed women across the United States about their experiences in the workplace, for the Jerome Foundation supported project Wearing My Age, I learned that women of all ages still struggle to be heard, respected and paid well, confirming my commitment to a feminist stance.”
JIM HITTINGER was born in Chicago and grew up in the Detroit metropolitan area. His work is semi-autobiographical, based on the banal suburban spaces of Metro Detroit.
“The world my images exist in is one of memories and traces. . . Subdivisions, strip malls, and undeveloped lots off the interstate near the airport are common locales in my imagery. I am drawn to objects that act as stand-ins for human activity or that imply rather than illustrate events: overturned lawn chairs, tornado sirens, and inflatable tube men advertising used cars, often without the presence of humans. Situations are suggested and pointed to indirectly, creating an atmosphere of dread and impending disaster.”
Website: www.nicolehoekstra.com http://www.mnartists.org/nicolehoekstra
SYED HOSAIN is a South Minneapolis artist whose life and artistic practice are heavily enmeshed in the political climate of the US today. Originally from Karachi, Pakistan, he sees little differentiation between life and politics as a Muslim man in America
TERÉZ IACOVINO is a visual artist and educator based in Minneapolis who has exhibited across the US and abroad, including a variety of traveling print portfolios and site-specific installations.. Her interdisciplinary, research-based practice focuses on the intersection of nature and technology.
“When a hammer falls, it delivers a sudden blow, a jolting impact. With the outcome of the 2016 election, many of us were left with a sense of crushing despair, and we continue to experience shock event after shock event. As I navigate the current political climate, I remember that a hammer is also used for building new structures and dismantling old ones.”
LOU is an artist and ecofeminist. Her practice centers around female portraiture.
“I believe women and nature are connected intricately. Yes, domination of one can disturb the other. However nurturing one can flourish the other. . . I marvel in the potency of feminine themes fro I know first-hand that delicatee is not one-dimensional.”
Facebook/LouLure Instagram: @lou_loulure
“The Power to the People series is a collection of women who look like the women I know. Powerful women who take action. Women of different ages, race, class and occupation who fight in different ways for the rights of all women. “
MARY JANE MANSFIELD
“My grandparents homesteaded Dakota land along a tributary of the Missouri River, and growing up, my father was farming it. I remember walking through the fields—pre chemicals—when sloughs were left for pheasants, wild roses grew along the edges of fields, and bees and butterflies were busy making the world smile.
“Climate change is not a hoax and the president’s deregulation of environmental rules, including his actions around Standing Rock and Keystone, require me to take action. I’m too old to march; I did that in the 60s. What I can do now is use my childhood memories of the Dakota prairies and the water sustaining them to create visual images. My intention is to raise awareness of what we lose with climate change to encourage viewers to utilize our collective energy to save and renew our environment for future generations.”
BRIGHTON McCORMICK‘s multidiscinary practice centers on understanding the formation of identities, belief systems, and societal constructs. She explores how perception, personalities, development of human and social identities, and belief systems distort histories and understanding of our present. In transforming rudimentary materials through experimental processes, her work attempts to make humble objects and byproducts of process into art objects. This attempt reflects a desire to encourage the viewer to question the authority of what they believe as fact and how they perceive value.
Facebook/Brighton McCormick Art
Facebook/sozone2 Instagram: @steveoz2 Twitter: @stev0ny
“The work [in the show] is part of a suite of 11 prints that recall and reference a particular blue light from which I feel a profound sense of nostalgia and personal reflection. The series was created in the heart of the winter, a time when light is scarce, heavy, and particularly cool.”
“On April 13th 2016, I was diagnosed with stage III Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The thing that I felt first was a deep sense of powerlessness as my oncologist told me my only option was chemotherapy or I would be dead in under a year. I was told I required six months of treatment, twelve infusions of chemotherapy. It was nearly halfway through my treatment when I began to document my experience as I began to feel the full weight of the effects.
Photographing personal trauma through the documentation of spaces and objects as evidence of my illness articulates the traumatic effects of chemotherapy treatment and the conflicts created by its current role as the immediate response to cancer diagnosis. Interrogating a world that is not often explored through the unique experience of being sick has allowed me an intimate view of the medical industry.”
ALLISON RUBY‘s artistic and curatorial practice are all about using art as a means to foster relationships and community with one another and the world around us. In her sculptural piece, Microaggressions/Cinch Couch, each knot reflects one small, mindless yet purposeful act that creates a fabric covering a hollow framework. You are free to sit there uncomfortably.
“If you are not familiar with the term “microaggression,” it refers to a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority.) (From Merriam-Webster Dictionary.) For more information I recommend you check out this website: http://www.microaggressions.com/about . I feel it is important to understand, become aware of, and overcome the subtle and often unconscious racism and privilege even well-meaning people have.”
Facebook/Red Garage Studio
“My body has been a source of fascination throughout my life. I have gone through many eras of hate, disregard, and love for the limbs and fat rolls that accompany my body. By exposing my body through painting, each exposure of my flesh became a part of my own personal therapy in dealing with the body I was born with. I have chosen slowly to remove my specific identity from the paintings, cropping in on moments that share a certain truth in my form, and allowing others to project their own experiences on to mine.”
JENNIFER A. SCHULTZM
the Website: www.jenniferaschultz.com
“Recently I’ve been trying to hone in on creating work calling into question an audience’s—as well as my own—accountability in moments of American violence, and where that violence takes root. I have absolutely no desire to sanitize representations of brutality, but in many ways widely-accepted societal norms, attitudes and behaviors are just as, if not more, destructive for targeted groups, rather than individual acts; I look to highlight those behaviors.
“Combing through transcripts, Facebook posts and interviews, I use direct quotes from people so individual and group-held beliefs can be referenced directly—however disturbing they may be or how much we may prefer to believe them to be exceptions and outliers. If someone aligns themselves with an idea, movement or group, there must be an understanding of what entails the makeup and rhetoric of that movement. What is that individual truly condoning?
“In regard to the tragedy of Philando Castile, I looked to the Blue Lives Matter Facebook page. Over the course of reading comments on shared articles reporting on the court case, protests, video evidence, final rulings and settlements, one can view thousands of comments ranging from personal attacks on Castile and his family, racist and classist threats, advocated violence against protesters and outright lies.
“Unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly, these beliefs are not limited to the Castile case. While I myself in no way align with the Blue Lives Matter or All Lives Matter camps, as a white American I, and all others, absolutely must address the mindsets of those who we have grown up around, and be willing to admit the extent of how pervasive and destructive many of the resulting attitudes are, specifically to people of color.”