The Ford Foundation has announced the spring 2019 opening of the Ford Foundation Gallery, a 2,000-square foot exhibition space to present artists exploring issues of justice and injustice as these subjects relate to marginalized populations.
The gallery’s first exhibition, PERILOUS BODIES, will open March 5 to kick off the gallery’s annual theme: “Utopian Imagination.” The gallery will host three exhibitions in 2019, organized by independent curators Jaishri Abichandani and Natasha Becker and focusing on futuristic renderings of “craft, activism, data visualization, and agitprop.”
Lisa Kim, director of the Ford Foundation Gallery, said in a press release, “PERILOUS BODIES explores the inhumanity and injustice created by divisions of gender, race, class, and ethnicity. The artists in the exhibition offer a raw and honest look at the issues we must address head-on to ensure dignity for all.”
The Ford Foundation’s announcement states that the interdisciplinary artists featured in PERILOUS BODIES make “statements about ideas people are often quick to turn away from: black and brown bodies, refugee camps, the detritus of borderlands, broken earth. With these works, the artists seek to transform a world in peril into one we want to live in.” Among the first artists to be shown are Dread Scott, Barthélémy Toguo, Guillermo Galindo, and Tiffany Chung. On the evening of the gallery opening, artist Vanessa German will perform a “spoken word opera.”
The new gallery is located at the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice at 320 East 43rd Street in Manhattan, which reopened in November 2018 after a two-year renovation. The Ford Foundation provides over $600 million in grants annually to support organizations on the frontlines of social change around the world.
“Arts and creative expression have played an indelible role in building social justice movements,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “We’re thrilled to open the doors of this special space, a forum for artists to experiment and create a vibrant and necessary dialogue with the public.”
Can art and the creativity of artists help save the best of our system once Trump is gone; reduce the sterotypes, prejudices and class differences that divide us; and influence in a positive way the changes that will need to be made to restore confidence in our government and create a more just and equal society for all Americans? These are some of the questions we hope to answer with the art we began showing last fall at Washington’s new CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY POLITICAL ART, located in the same building directrly above the theater Jennifer Rubell’s Ivanka Vacuuming will be cleaning up for at least another week.
The exhibit we opened last night, our third, has not yet caused the stir Ivanka Vacuuming has. But we think it will next week when the visually and emotionally powerful images in it wiil be seen on television by millions of Americans and by six or seven House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pilosi, who have said they will come to pay their respects to Manny Oliver, the artist who turned gun control activist after his 17-year-old son, Joaquin, was murdered at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida a year ago next week.
We are showing nine of the 8′ x 4′ panels Manny has made, using acylic paint on stretched canvas, at protest marches and rallies over the past year, including one in front of the NRA’s headquarters building in northern Virginia. Along side his graffitti-like panels are large, visually striking nylon wall-mounted multiples and a large acrylic painting by Detroit artist Margi Weir. Not as sophisticated as the work the Ford Foundation gallery will show, judging by the images you published, Manny’s work is accessible, at times haunting, and, once seen, unlikely to be forgotten.
Why would we have wanted to deny his need for a venue in te Nation’s Capital to commemorate the Parkland shooting and his son’s murder; honor the March for Our Lives movement born from it; and protest Government inaction that is unconscionable? We’ll also begin to test Manny’s belief, and ours—and, I would guess, the Ford Foundation’s hope, if not belief—that political art, in this case the protest panels Manny calls his Walls of Demand, can influence public opinion in ways no other medium can?
WALLS OF DEMAND: The Art of Manny Oliver and Margi Weir @ THE CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY POLITICAL ART, 916 G Street NW, 2nd fl, Washington, DC 20001
http://www.politicsartus.org / 202-412-2324
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