Kathy Varadi and Sylvin Harris present the exhibition, Re-claim-nation, at the Oglethorpe Gallery from May 17th to May 22nd. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, May 19th, at 406 E. Oglethorpe Avenue. The event is free and open to the public, and visitors are encouraged to bring their own viewpoint and/or flashlight.
Following their previous exhibition, Re-assimilation (March 2017), which contextualized the artist’s return to America, Re-claim-nation is a cry for justice and freedom. The pair watched from France as their country was claimed by the Electoral College, challenging the format of our democracy. Now they are back, situated, and ready to ask questions. Who’s really running the show? And how the hell did we get here?
In the footsteps of former President George W. Bush, President Trump has picked up a paintbrush, with a lot to say. “People don’t know, and honestly, let me tell you, are you listening? I can paint on a canvas. A masterpiece. Beautiful. Believe me.” Trump says. His newly appointed Secretary of Art, Varadi, hopes to show the world how he is making America great again through his artworks. Good. His first actually cohesive body of work, D.J.T. Manifesto, reflects on the relationship between political unrest and natural disasters. Is Mother Nature fighting back? Pathetic. Other paintings discuss Trump’s distinct viewpoint of recent events, and to be honest, you can’t find any art better than this art. It’s the best art in the world. Great. Really great. If you are in the market for, truly, fine art, just ask yourself, “What would Donald Paint?” Amazing.
Similarly, Harris’ work questions the consequences of technology, incompetence, and the ego. Made to withstand a nuclear firestorm, these sculptures grasp at the last common thread left, our humanity. The work presented deconstructs identity and highlights how we are choosing to pull ourselves apart. Their artwork is a mediation between light, technology, and the people. They make work that strives to open up communication between the outdated notion of friends and enemies, with a universal commitment to our survival, together.
The work comes together to bring the state of our union into focus, with an invitation to the viewer to find their own perspective. Although some of the work may be set in stone, this exhibition serves to open up a communal dialogue of mutual respect and growth.