“This is America” exhibit at Red West Gallery evokes national artist’s response
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Walking through the new Red West Gallery exhibition, “This is America,” Steamboat Springs artist Dawn Wilde recalls a notion that’s left an imprint.
“To be able to express your truth — it was one of the things Madeline Albright thought people in this country needed to pay attention to, and it’s something I think really strikes with this show,” said Wilde, referring to words written by Madeline Albright, the first female U.S. Secretary of State, in her memoir.
“The idea that people bring their own bias with them is a pretty powerful idea,” said Wilde, who has artwork in the exhibit. “Sometimes, when they see something that doesn’t fit, then that sort of opens — hopefully — another venue for them.”
Giving a voice to artists who hope to speak their truth to the world, curators and artists Susan Schiesser and Pat Walsh put together the new Red West Gallery exhibition, which is an invitational show about the status quo of the state of the union.
Artists from around the country submitted work in response to the statement, “This Is America,” with a wide variety of media, treatment and message.
The featured works offer insight on everything and anything, the curators said, from the economy, aging, the environment, war, gun control, wealth, diversity, animal husbandry and politics.
The exhibit opened on Wednesday and will be on display throughout the month of October.
The idea for the new exhibition took form after Schiesser and Walsh watched rapper Childish Gambino in the music video, “This is America,” which was viewed on YouTube more than 363.6 million times.
“The first time I saw it, I thought about how inspirational it was and how music relates to art,” Schiesser said. “Music always seems more immediate, so the idea of asking people to watch it while they’re imprinted with it for a few minutes to just make anything — jot it down, paint it, photograph it — it offered the opportunity to have an immediate response.”
“Recognizing art in its many forms has, for centuries, acted as a catalyst for protest, discussion and unification,” Walsh said. “We recognize Gambino’s work lays such a platform for artists wishing to voice their own ideas regarding the status quo in America.”
“This is America” offered a call to artists via Art Deadline, an income and exhibition opportunity site for artists worldwide, to view the video and then respond with artwork in a standard 12-inch by 12-inch format.
“Art is a lucky thing,” said Brian Bonebrake, one of the new artists at Red West Gallery who also has a piece in the show. “It upholds ideas. People see what they carry with them.”
More than half the pieces submitted for the show, about 20 in total, were created after the artist saw the video, and the other half felt compelled to send work in that was already completed and either not seen anywhere else or hadn’t found the right venue.
“It gives people a venue for a voice,” Schiesser added.
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