June 12 - September 9, 2001
Issues of Identity in Recent Contemporary American Art is an exhibition which presents work by nine contemporary artists residing in the United States addressing issues of culture, race, gender, and national and personal identity. Often employing strategies of humor, cynicism, and anger, the art in this exhibition represents a broad range of media and involves the viewer in such sensitive topics as oppression of women, cultural clichés, and revisionist history. A traveling exhibition which we hosted for the summer of 2001, Issues of Identity is curated by Dan Mills, Director of the Gibson Gallery at SUNY, Potsdam.
Some words on the artists: Enrique Chagoya intermixes the cultures of US and Mexico, old and new religions, and art and popular culture in his paintings and prints. The late Tseng Kwong Chi made photographic self-portraits in which he presented himself as cultural “other” in a Mao Suit, making expeditions to Western tourist attractions. Bursting with drama, humor, and cultural clichés, Robert Colescott’s paintings grapple with racism, sexism, and historical perspective, often through re-interpretation of earlier works of art. Brad Kahlhamer paints narratives that explore his Native American heritage and history as a child adopted into a European-American family. Michael Oatman's installations investigate the transformation of identity during processing for incarceration, or “classification” under the guise of faux sciences such as eugenics. Adrian Piper creates installations, performances, drawings, and videos that expand our attitudes about race, xenophobia, gender, and forms of oppression against women. Cindy Sherman employs photography to challenge the images and myths of popular culture and mass media. Combining elements drawn from the traditional Japanese woodblock print, ukiyo-e, and American Pop Art, Masami Teraoka addresses issues concerning East/West culture clashes, contrasts of modern and archaic culture, and crass consumerism. Carrie Mae Weems utilizes photography and text in a strategic attempt to transform the representation of African-Americans.