PAWTUCKET, RI.- Resonating with the ongoing immigrant crisis internationally, this focused group exhibition features works by 10 contemporary artists producing remarkably expressive work in various forms and formatstaken together, the work concerns personal feelings of loss/gain, separation and hybridity. Whether currently based in New England, New York, California, India or The Netherlands, the talented and multi-generational artists selected for Crossing Borders draw upon specific and diverse cultural origins that they integrate productively in their work. They manifest this integration prominently and distinctively.
Appropriately, this globally involved exhibition will take place within the cultural melting pot of Rhode Island, a historic and ongoing site of immigration. Suitably nomadic in nature, the first iteration of the exhibition in Pawtucket will be followed by additional variations in Rhode Island venues to be announced.
Arguably it is male, rather than female artists who are the most visible practitioners to emerge internationally during the recent immigration and asylum seeking period. Rather than enforce a new space of marginalization, this exhibition underscores the crossing of borders by women artists, while it teases out and exposes the obligations and burdens that artists of all genders may express in leaving their original countries and communities. To paraphrase critic Kaelen Wilson-Goldie writing recently on art made within Assads Syria - and art for its migrants and refugees beyond - the exhibition also will engage complexities of identity and experience that complicate the binaries of insider and outsider that are often exploited to make people fearful of others. (Bookforum, April/May 2017, 42-43).
Crossing Borders is not overtly about displacement. Instead, it emphasizes the need for diverse practitioners to develop a secure, confident, personal art language through which to express conditions of movement and change, externally imposed and/or internally generated. As issues of gender, history and cultural practice are addressed through the exhibition, traditional and experimental media both are parlayed deftly in the process, from painting and embroidery through readymades and fascinating mixed-media variations. In addition to animated conversations between diverse contemporary media, shifts of scale are dynamic, ranging from an 11-foot composition to a small-scale animation.
The artists featured in the exhibition are mainly active in the USA while born abroad, (generally having moved across several countries), or are second-generation, or were born in the USA and later resettled abroad, or have moved from a smaller-scale to populous urban city that is now called home. They are Roya Amigh, Iran/Massachusetts; Camilo Cruz, Los Angeles, California of Mexican parentage; Teruko Isabella Kushi, Massachusetts of Japanese/American parentage; Ariana Gharib Lee, Massachusetts of Iranian/Chinese parentage; Julia Mandle, Minnesota/Netherlands; Esperanza Mayobre, Venezuela/New York; Jason Noushin, United Kingdom/Connecticut; Saman Sajasi, Iran/Rhode Island; Poonam Jain, Bangalore/Mumbai, India, and Heeseop Yoon, Korea/New York.
Crossing Borders was conceived in and for the contemporary moment nationally and internationally by independent curator, art writer and founder of the Providence Biennial for Contemporary Art, Judith Tolnick Champa, and multi-media artist and active feminist Jocelyn Foye, recently migrated from California to New England.