Thank you to our artists Priscilla Otani, Doerte Weber, Tessie Barrera-Scharaga, Shannon Wright and Carlos Cartagena, the staff and faculty of Santa Clara University and all those who attended from the community. Our Community Conversation with the Artists brought forth many stories to further dialogue around immigration, migration, assimilation and deportation and why and how we, as artists and curators, do such work.
Powerful art and emotional reactions leading to continued sharing of stories at the reception of our "Beyond Borders: Stories of im/Migration". Thank you to our artists, the SCU faculty and staff and the engaged community.
Beyond Borders: Stories of im/Migration
Santa Clara University
January 8 - April 7, 2018
Exhibition Reception: February 2, 2018
Curated by Sherri Cornett and Karen Gutfreund, Gutfreund Cornett Art
Migrations of humanity, whether instigated by war, conflict, persecution, poverty or climate change, transport peoples from the known, their homes, families and communities, to the unknown. Beyond Borders: Stories of im/Migration explored the personal and observed narratives surrounding the struggles of flight, the immigration process, asylum, assimilation, deportation, threats of violence and the perception of being “other” within the American culture. Despite the complex assortment of legal, social, emotional and physical challenges, increasing numbers still trade these risks for the chance of safer, better lives for themselves and their families. Beyond Borders acknowledged the dignity, dreams and sacrifices of these people and reflects on where we are going, individually and as community.
With recent tragedies, horrors and stories of hate and divisiveness, it is all the more important for us to share our perspectives, with whatever tools we have. As we know, art is a powerful way to start dialogue, to overcome language and cultural barriers.
At our Democracy show opening, a Turkish man came up to me to talk about the show. He was visiting his daughter in NYC, or more accurately, he was spending as much time in NYC as visa regulations allowed, escaping his beloved country due to the increasing fear and the loss of rights and democracy there. He was not an artist, but, that evening, he wanted to be in a place where democracy was being discussed, to be comforted that there are still safe venues to talk about concerns, about what is right and what is left, or remaining, of civil rights, human rights, dialogue. That brief conversation is why Karen and I do what we do with Gutfreund Cornett Art... creating opportunities for artists to start and add to conversations, to engage others to think more deeply about issues, to create community.
What's Right, What's Left: Democracy in America
Phoenix Gallery, Chelsea, NYC
January 6-30, 2016
Curators: Sherri Cornett and Kren Gutfreund, Gutfreund Cornett Art
Juror: Dr. Kathy Battista, Founder and Director of the MA Contemporary Art program at Sotheby's Institute of Art, New York
Artists with works in the gallery:
Nic Abramson, Ransom Ashley, Michael D'Antuono, Cat Del Buono, Justyne Fischer, Lindsay Garcia, Shawna Gibbs, Ruthann Godollei, Ingrid Goldbloom Bloch, Emily Greenberg,Gracie Guerrero-Bustini, Shreepad Joglekar, Sinan Revell, Monika Malewska, Victoria Helena Mihatovic, Kate Negri, Gina Randazzo, Nick Schmidt, Laura Sussman-Randall, Dan Tague, and Eike Waltz.
When Priscilla Otani and I decided to piggy back on the success of her previous postcard projects for the Women's Caucus for Art and the United Nations, we had no long range goals other than to give women, men and children a chance to consider the impacts women have had on the economy, human rights, education, the environment, world health religion, the arts, sports, politics and peace. We were inspired by the work of the UN Women's HeForShe campaign and its Beijing+20 program, celebrating the First World Women's Conference.
The call went out and the cards came in - steadily and from around the world, starting with a post card making gathering at my house and including gatherings in the Bay Area and classrooms around the country. The growing collection traveled, in 2015, to the WC and CAA Conferences, to the UN Commission on the Status of Women Conference and our International Caucus UN Program parallel event there, to Honey's Cafe in Red Lodge, Montana, and, in 2016, to the Torpedo Factory Art Center in DC, the Women's History Month Exhibition at St. Louis Florissant Valley Community College (near Ferguson), Arc Project Gallery in San Francisco and ... all were collected in our online gallery. Some samples are above.
The resulting mosaic of cards is a rich and inspiring diversity of media and message and women!
Thank you to all who nurtured this along its path, including Maureen Burns-Bowie, Janice Nesser, Maggy Hiltner, Kerry Wolfson, Cherie Redlinger, Michael Yochum, and Stephen Wagner.
More information and photos of events at https://www.sherricornett.com/women-do-it-traveling-postcard-exhibition.html
I am finishing up my home-made baba ganouj this morning and reflecting on the thought-provoking, conversation-inducing presentation (and delicious Palestinian food) by the staff (the director is Jewish) of #conflictkitchen during the Open Engagement conference in Pittsburgh last month. About how important it is to keep dialogue open between people, even if governments and organizations find it politically incorrect. And how the sharing of food during can assist in these conversations, such as the meals the Half the Sky: Intersections of Social Practice Art delegates shared as we discussed, processed and problem-solved our time and interactions in China.
"Conflict Kitchen is a restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict. Each Conflict Kitchen iteration is augmented by events, performances, publications, and discussions that seek to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within the focus region. The restaurant rotates identities in relation to current geopolitical events.... These diverse perspectives reflect a nuanced range of thought within each country and serves to instigate questioning, conversation, and debate with our customers."
Photo courtesy of conflict kitchen website
As part of the processing of our massive project in China, "Half the Sky: Intersections in Social Practice Art," several of the artist delegate leaders and I applied for and received a panel at the annual Open Engagement Conference, the artist-led initiative committed to expanding the dialogue around and serving as a site of care for the field of socially engaged art ... this year at Carnegie Melon University in Pittsburgh. Here is the conversational blog we created for the conference catalog:
In April 2014, artist volunteers from the Women’s Caucus for Art (WCA) created an exhibition and interactive events for women artists in China and the U.S. at Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang, China, entitled “Half the Sky: Intersections in Social Practice Art (HTS:IISPA)” We were invited by the academy’s president and gallery director, who wished to create a dialogue between artists and their works about women’s issues. WCA has a 40+ years history of activist art, yet the choices about the collection of art and the events we brought to China were greatly influenced by the political and cultural restrictions there. Here is a conversation about our decision-making and reflections over time about our experience from some of the thirteen working delegates who went to China as key figures in this project
PRISCILLA OTANI: We had a serious debate just prior to our social practice art interactive pieces. I recall that we felt conflicted and debated as to whether we should cancel or go forward with the performances. In the end, we decided to go forward. I felt our discussion, and what ensued, was an important milestone. Some of the unease came from a cultural sensitivity, a feeling of not wanting to impose Western values and standards on Chinese students, artists and academics who may not have the same perspective or readiness. I remember making a comment that our role was to “sow the seeds of discomfort,” to bring forth concepts and ideas that may be new, strange and uncomfortable. Of course I didn’t know if in fact we would have any impact at all, or if we would have even an audience. In the end, I felt very good about the events of the day. And after viewing the short video created by Mido Lee, I was surprised at how much of an impact we did have, and based on recent letters, how the women-based exhibition and performances continue to have on students at the Luxun Academy.
Nearly a year after our Half the Sky project, in what ways have your views and opinions about what happened with our socially-engaged events at the Luxun Academy changed or evolved?
A place to decant my brain, to capture inspiration and share fresh insights. [Posts from 2015 onward]