The artworks I have selected for SHIFT are in service of a story that I want to tell, and not necessarily the narrative that the artists themselves might have intended. For this virtual exhibition, McLean Project for the Arts (MPA) gave the artists the freedom to be ambitious and to interpret “shift” to mean “the concept of change or exchange in paradigm . . . position, direction, tendency, . . . environment [or] perspective….” My job as co-curator, was to select 24 artists from a pool of 250 disparate works featuring a range of styles, techniques, media and interpretations of “shift.”
With far too many compelling artworks to choose from, and in order to group works together, as well as find commonalities across them, I decided to frame the word “shift” as it might relate to science fiction. Think: ideas about Dystopia and fear of technology (H.G. Wells’ 19th Century novel The Time Machine); shape shifting, isolation and alienation (Kafka’s Metamorphosis); time travel to a hostile past (Octavia Butler’s Kindred); and the spiritual and environmental destruction of Earth (Sophia Stewart’s The Third Eye) [the latter two writers being African-American women].
Thus, I managed to select 24 works based on whether I could defend them as generally fitting within these broad themes. Note — in the online gallery they are grouped in the following categories:
· Our Present Dystopia
· Going Home
· Shape Shifting and the Body
· Time Portals
· Our Future
Perhaps reflecting our times, my selections are mostly (but not all) doom-and-gloom. In particular, I want to point out one selected work that I found hopeful: Raymond Baccari’s “empathy machine.” Titled Go Beyond, this giant sound sculpture amplifies the artist’s beating heart evoking incubation, rebirth, compassion, and grace.