The Department of Art & Design and Slocumb Galleries in partnership with MALS Gender & Diversity Studies, ETSU Office of Equity & Diversity, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Women’s Studies Program, Women’s Resource Center, Urban Redevelopment Alliance and the ETSU Civility present “Equal: Modern Family in Contemporary Art” from March 17 to April 11, 2014 at the Tipton Gallery. The exhibit is co-curated by Karlota I. Contreras-Koterbay and Michael Hale.
Some of the participating artists will provide artists’ talk during the reception on April 4, First Friday, from 6 to 8 p.m. Other related events to the exhibition is the film showing with discussion of “Unbreakable Thread” by Stacey Summers on April 10, Thursday, 5 p.m. at the Culp Auditorium during the ETSU Civility Week and the ArtIfact lecture by Dr. Jill Leroy Frazier on March 27, Thursday at 6 p.m. at Tipton Gallery.
The “Equal: Modern Family in Contemporary Art” exhibition explores the evolving definition and forms of the American family in visual art, featuring various perspectives by artists who endeavor to push the boundaries of the traditional roles of the family, and employing art as agent for equality, recognition and social justice.
The participating artists include: Scott Andreson, Joe Bruns, Laura Chenicek, Cheryl Elich-Krumpelt, Michael Hale, Jennifer Halvorson & Cortney Boyd, Tala Isla-Contreras, Liz Layton, Sally Machlis & Delphine Keim, Desiree Markland, Edward Morin, Mike Murphy, Shai Perry, Rogelio Gutierrez, Skip Rohde, Ann Rowles, Jaime Santos-Prowse, Joe Singleton, Irma Sizer, Paul Tosh, Kimberly Walton, Jennifer Weigel, and Dave Willison.
The artists included in the exhibition work in diverse media and aesthetic trajectories, the common thread lies on the assertion of the ambiguities of gender and familial identities in their art. The works in the exhibition portray multiplicity of voices, diverse visualizations of the concept of 'family' spanning the traditional to non-traditional gender households, multiracial, nuclear to extended families as well as relations in between the norms. Unions are forged not only by marriage, kinship, but more importantly by choice.
Contreras-Koterbay, a migrant curator and parent of biracial child states that “the visualizations of the 'modern family' offer relevant glimpses and provide opportunities to explore the nuances of identity and the role of family in society.” She further adds, “the significant strides from various sectors in relation to the issue of family is very encouraging, starting with the Supreme Court ruling of the oppressive DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) as unconstitutional paving way to the legalization of same sex marriage in various states in the country.” Another interesting development is the change of tone in the Catholic Church as result of its new pope whose advocacy for the poor, the broken and the oppressed has, if not recognized homosexuality, at least provided a non-condemning position. There is a growing generation of multiracial children, as well as children from same sex marriage and the definition of the traditional concept of family is forced to evolve to accommodate the well being of its members.
Co-curator Hale who grew up in Appalachia, recognizes how the definition of the American Family has changed, and its relevance in contemporary society is evident as key topic in policy making and public opinion, and employ these as prime motivation to engage conversations about the evolving definition and meaning of ‘family’. Though diversity in the ‘family unit’ is prevalent, it is not often that these conversations toward diversity and equality have enough opportunity to be heard. He feels that “traditional concepts of family are fast becoming out-dated as the reality of biracial, LGBT parenthood are struggling to be recognized.” He added “we as Americans are a mixed group of cultures and ideas that have melded together over the centuries and we will continue to do so because that IS what makes us ‘American’.”
The Tipton Gallery is located at 126 Spring St., Downtown, Johnson City. Gallery hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 6 p.m., First Fridays and ArtIfact Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. and by appointment. For more information, contact Slocumb Galleries’ Director Karlota Contreras-Koterbay via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (423) 483-3179. Parking and handicapped access are available. For more information, please visit the ETSU PlanIt Calendar under Museum and Galleries or www.etsu.edu/cas/art/slocumb.