Conversations: Significant Years
December 19, 2015 - March 19, 2016
Artist: Carol Ann Waugh
First Friday, January 1, 6-9pm
Opening Reception, Thursday, January 7, 5-8pm
First Friday, February 4, 6-9pm
Artist Talk, Saturday, February 13, 3-4pm
First Friday, March 4, 6-9pm
Closing Reception, Saturday, March 19, Noon -3pm
About this Exhibit
Every time something horrifying happens, commentators and reporters always say "We need to have a conversation". Sure! Let's talk about racism, guns, violence, poverty, the rising income gap, abortion, gay marriage, slavery, genocide, starvation, climate change, solitary confinement, mass extinction, war, terrorism....
Talk, talk, talk.
But nothing ever changes.
I decided to create a series of pieces that use words and phrases to create "conversations" with the people looking at them. I chose significant years in my life and researched what was happening in those years. Because all these pieces are the same size and contain the same number of spaces for letters, I also had to sift through all those words and phrases to find ones that reflected a myriad of topics — from politics, science, events, people, data, pop culture, and inventions that have changed our lives — and then, I had to further refine them so they fit into my static grid.
Every piece contains some things that some people will not understand. But this was my point. I want people to read these pieces and ask "What does that mean?" "Why did she put that person/event in and not another" "Why did she choose this year and not a year before or after?"
I believe art should be a conversation between the artist and the viewer. Sometimes, critics get involved as well as curators and other gatekeepers who decide whose voices should be heard and what conversations should be allowed. Not too different from the power that the media has in determining the same issue.
Today, we live in a world of social media where no one has total control over the conversations. And we have seen the results. ISIS recruitment of young people to fight for an Islamic Caliphate. The Arab Spring where repression and war has overtaken the strongman governments. #BlackLivesMatter and all we see is killing after killing.
I started this journey with the year I was born and I don't know where it will end. But I can tell you as I make each piece, I see the threads of the same words and phrases appearing again and again.
I'm afraid these conversations are still going on — but looking back, not much has happened to resolve anything. Makes me wonder whether conversations are effective at addressing any of these issues.
Perhaps, instead, we need action.