Curated by Samira Abbassy
February 5 to April 15, 2019
Extended to May 15
THE ELIZABETH FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS
323 WEST 39TH STREET, 3RD FLOOR
NEW YORK, NY 10018
American Psyche presents works by EFA Studio Member Artists who make representational paintings and drawings focusing on the human figure. In selecting works for the show, it became clear that portraying the figure is fraught with questions of race, class, politics, history, and mythologies. These eight artists, half of whom were born outside the US, consider what it means to be American, with all its hybrid identities and layered nationalities. In their artworks, the powerful presence of the figure invites a psychological intimacy with the viewer and suggests a renewal of obsolete canonical notions of representation. Artists who were previously considered to be outsiders rewrite themselves, and their subjects, back into histories from which they were erased. Their work functions as a vehicle for healing, enabling them to occupy an expanded place of global belonging, in which we are all included. Engaging with these paintings brings up questions of our own place in this America, and if a national identity is even possible anymore.
Edgar Jerins describes his large charcoal drawings as a portrait of “American despair, detailing the effects of family separation, the ravages of drugs and alcohol, mental illness, gun culture, and the alienation of folks in the country’s heartland.”
Elizabeth Colomba’s paintings “stand as a critique of how the black body has been represented in the history of Western portraiture by adapting canonical themes including the feminine sacred, mythology, and allegory.”
Simonette Quamina explores drawing by combining printmaking and collage. Her seemingly personal narratives emerge through cutting and gluing fragments of memories, and the body, by which she questions the veracity of memory, as well as the fragility of the body.
Greg Kwiatek’s KKK painting series was made in reaction to, and protest of the current White Nationalist strain inspired by Trump’s Presidency. He writes, “We live in a time where darkness has a voice, not only here in the United States, but globally. A reawakening of history's darkest moments and characters.”
Ronald Hall's paintings create thought provoking and narrative interpretations of historical and contemporary African American themes. Born of fictional or non-fictional stories, and using imagery found in African American history books, newspapers, or internet resources, Hall's work provokes a dialogue around race and socio-political issues.
Amy Hill’s strong dialogue with the history of western painting, such as the Dutch master Hans Memling, reminds us of the substantial European heritage of American painting and culture.
Richard Hart was born in Scotland and was transplanted into Zimbabwe as a child. Although he felt like an outsider, he considers himself an African. He says of his work: “It’s a meditation on the spiritual landscape of Africa, taking cues from ritual, witchcraft and Muti.”
Samira Abbassy’s work emerges from her Iranian Arab heritage and emigre upbringing. Her archetypal figures are often mirrored or doubled suggesting introspection and fragmented identity. The rich patterns, flowing braids and intestinal motif speak of pycho-emotional states and migrant histories. Abbassy co-founded The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in 1992 and has a lifetime tenure at EFA.
The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts (EFA) is a 501 (c) (3) public charity. Through its three core programs, EFA Studio Program, EFA Project Space, and the EFA Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, EFA is dedicated to providing artists across all disciplines with space, tools and a cooperative forum for the development of individual practice. The EFA Studio Program was founded in 1998 as a program of The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts to provide affordable private studio spaces, facilitate career development, and promote public and critical exposure for our members. We host curated exhibitions featuring studio member artists on the third floor.
EFA Studio Program 323 W. 39 St., 3rd Floor, Manhattan | Hours: Tue – Fri, 11–6 pm | www.studios-efanyc.org
Contact: Deric Carner | 212-563-5855 x224 | firstname.lastname@example.org