Recently, I made the scenic drive to the Art in an Age of Anxiety exhibit at the Arts Guild of Sonoma. Juror and artist Chester Arnold selected my artwork TRUTH for the opportunity. The intimate space displayed sixty-three pieces from artists throughout the United States. The artworks explored how present politics instill fear and instability in our nation.
The exhibition’s concept relives a reoccurring theme. From the Arts Guild of Sonoma website: “Although first coined by WH Auden in 1948 to describe the fear, disillusionment, confusion, and dismay that Europeans endured, we know full well that the ‘Age of Anxiety’ is not contained in the past. We are highly conscious of the perils of our era, from the rise of fascism, environmental concerns, threats to privacy, terrorism, drugs, and assaults on our democracy. Artists help to chronicle, illuminate, and cope with this anxiety.”
My artwork TRUTH responds to the uneasiness, injustice, and anxiety unleashed by the current administration. Description: My art practice investigates symbols of influence and power that impact perception. President Trump’s bravado of tweets and lackluster governing blares of hollow rhetoric. Trump equates excessive exaggerations to “truthful hyperbole” while special counsel Robert Mueller collects evidence. The word TRUTH burns and penetrates the Art of the Deal book exposing its contents leaving a scar. No deal, citizen, or president is above the law.
Chester Arnold’s selections mirror his art practice investigating the relationship between humans and the natural world. It’s no surprise that WH Auden’s poetry and philosophy coincides with the juror. From the Poetry Foundation: “Auden won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for The Age of Anxiety. Much of his poetry is concerned with moral issues and evidences a strong political, social, and psychological context.”
Highlights included Lexie Bragg’s Untitled print on styrene and Lori Goldman’s My Mother’s Last Words 2 that explore displacement, grief, and the struggle to cope with new realities. Bragg’s work is from her The Great Divide Series. According to her website: “Millennials grew up in a time of optimism and opportunity. As children, they were told they could do anything they wanted, be anything they wanted, all they had to do was go to good schools and work hard. In search of the American Millennial Dream, Millennials eagerly took on tens of thousands of dollars worth of loans to earn degrees with the promise of a better and brighter future. However, this was not the future they found.”
Meanwhile, Carol Brent Levin’s Urban Nature (EV) and Tina Maier’s Sentinel explore a micro vs. macro dystopian perspective of man’s relationship with nature and consumption. From Levin’s artist statement: “As our population grows, habitats are impacted; ecosystems are destroyed, resulting in mass extinctions and endangered species. As our planet’s biodiversity continues to be threatened by our expected population growth, Earth may soon become inhospitable to the human species.”
Demetri Tyler’s Untitled and David Contreras’ Press Conference provides a platform for voices who are underrepresented and silenced. Saying truth is truth doesn’t make it so. Tyler on RAW’s website: “My inspiration comes from the people and the world around me. My experiences, the people I meet, music, all shape my photography in one way or another…”
Perhaps the cure to anxiety is supporting creativity. If looking for cosmetic compositions, The Art in an Age of Anxiety will disappoint. The exhibition delivers truth and all its beautiful glory!
Art in an Age of Anxiety. Arts Guild of Sonoma. Sonoma, CA. August 30-October 1, 2018.