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Tyree Guyton's An American Show to be Exhibited at McColl Center for Visual Art
Tyree Guyton, “Enron, Kmart, Etc.”.

CHARLOTTE, NC.- McColl Center for Visual Art is exhibiting the mixed media work of Tyree Guyton An American Show, March 20 – May 16, 2009. Exhibited extensively in the Midwest and along the East Coast as well as internationally, An American Show is making its debut in the Southeast at McColl Center for Visual Art in Charlotte. The Center will host a free opening reception on Friday, March 20, 6-9pm with a curator/artist talk featuring Tyree Guyton at 6:30pm.

Each of the 35 pieces in An American Show incorporates American flag imagery in a probing examination of what defines America and Americans. By fusing found objects from an abandoned neighborhood in his lifelong home of Detroit, Guyton juxtaposes the artifacts of violence, drugs, repression and hopelessness with a flag that serves as a symbol of an embedded cultural ideal of “land of the free” and “America the beautiful.” The stark contrast of the American dream and dreams dashed and deferred is a theme that resonates with many populations throughout our history; and it is acutely relevant today as the economy stumbles, the gulf widens further between the “haves” and “have nots,” and our nation faces challenges that question what it is to be American.

As Charlotte and communities around the country face new challenges and realities, there is no better time to ponder the questions provoked by An American Show. Because these questions may, at an individual and collective level, help us grapple with issues of identity, industry, relevancy and rapid growth in the midst of uncertain times. The work in An American Show depicts hard subjects and asks sobering questions about the social, political and economic realities of American life. Guyton’s work is contextually mature, creatively crafted to be challenging and, subsequently, difficult to forget. It is, however, imperative that we look at what is difficult, what’s ugly and what we may sometimes want to ignore - because without looking honestly and deeply at what is there, there is no real possibility for change. There is no more relevant time for An American Show than now.

In addition to An American Show, Guyton is renowned for the Heidelberg Project started in 1986, which focused on the decaying neighborhood of his childhood home, turning vacant lots into “lots of art” and abandoned houses into installation pieces. The Heidelberg Project, like the work in An American Show makes use of refuse and discarded, unwanted items to create work that is both visually engaging and alive with narrative and cultural commentary. Guyton appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show in 1991 to talk about the project and its impact on his community, and a Cinemax Reel Life Special “Come Unto Me: the Faces of Tyree Guyton” won an Emmy Award in 1999.

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