Art department alumni and student artists create pieces in support of Social Justice
Introductory statement by Ed Kerns, Eugene H. Clapp Professor of Art and Humanities and head of the Art Department
Historically, artists have responded to social injustice by producing imagery that captures both civil protest and frustration with societal inequalities. Art History is full of examples.
In this broad tradition of principled democracy in action, Lafayette art majors, both alumni and current students, have contributed images and video performance pieces to form a digital exhibit of a heartfelt need for change.
Clark Addis, a.k.a. Clock Addis, was a double major in Art and Mechanical Engineering from Belmont Massachusetts. Next year, he will be starting a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Purdue.
He used to like time, in fact he was once a clock (clarkaddis.com/get_hour). In his thesis work, Addis invented a new base seven system of time called the Septem and used it for two weeks(clarkaddis.com/thesis/timekeeper). His hypothesis was that the Septem was completely useless and entirely unintuitive. His conclusion was that the Septem was completely useless and entirely unintuitive.
Kaila Aguerre recently graduated from Lafayette College with a double major in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Art. She is passionate about abolishing the prison system and using art as a means of therapy and activism. She is from California and Argentina and is soon to move to Denver, Colorado.
Mai Ao is a 2016 graduate of Lafayette College. He studied art and computer science during his time there. Ao received his Master’s Degree in Digital Animation from Carnegie Mellon University. He is currently working in the game industry.
Clark wants her art to speak to the world that we live in. Either that be through critique or celebration of her community, it should have some message behind it.
This is a collage that aims to show the violence that’s embedded within American institutions, culture, and identity. In this piece specifically, this violence is shown through the assaulting red along with the images of police and the nazi symbol (a symbol of white supremacy). It also emphasizes the ways in which America is innately a white supremacist nation through the repetition of red and that symbol in the background. Visually that symbol is in the background AND the way it’s embedded within the pattern of the image speaks to how these violent ideologies have always been embedded within this nation’s identity. With the current uprising, protests, and riots we see erupting across the country, we are seeing how angry and tired folks are when it comes to the police and their constant violence against Black people.
Dilge Dilsiz was born in Marmaris, Turkey, in 1996. She arrived in the United States in 2015. Received a Bachelor of Arts degree at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. Studied Psychology & Studio Arts, and minored in Architectural Studies. Completed an Honors Thesis in Art by studying the concept of Culture Shock through photography. She is currently getting her MFA degree and working as an Instructor of Record at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, NY. Here, her studies in art focus on reasoning human behavior through true life stories. Working mainly in digital photography, she creates work about her travels related to surveillance and documenting daily life from behind the scenes. From 2016 to 2019, she has been awarded an art funding provided by the CaPA Scholars Program. In 2018, she received the Rothkopf Scholars Award. Her work has been featured in various exhibitions: International Visual Arts Gathering II (2015, Kedi Culture and Art Center), Syracuse Art Exhibition (2018, Syracuse Florence Art Gallery), Art Honors Thesis Exhibition (2019, Grossman Art Gallery), The Money Show (2019, Tabler Art Gallery).
Lia Embil was born in Florida and grew up in and around Istanbul, Turkey. She studied Art and Film at Lafayette College, and anatomy and portraiture at The Art Students League of New York as well as Chelsea Classical Studio School of Art under Leonid Gervits in New York City. Her work has been published in Tidskriften Staden Literary Magazine, and her collections include Lafayette College, and others. She currently has a solo exhibition in Queenstown, New Zealand.
Embil’s artwork investigates the human experience, specifically through the perspective of and our relationship to the natural world. In her practice, she primarily uses natural dyes and colors, which she makes herself by boiling plants, roots, vegetables, and other organic ingredients. She also includes writing, filmmaking, sound, and photography in her artwork. Her use of form and color often represents geological occurrences and biological patterns, embodying the power, energy, and emotion existent in the earth, which all things share.
Her work Colors of Light and Dark is a collage of natural dyes on paper, showing two similarly shaped forms that hold complementary colors derived from the same source. This work was created during the nationwide and worldwide protests for the lives of black individuals in June 2020.
Black Boys in Greenhouses is a series of mixed media paintings that share aspects of the humanity of living young men of color. All too often we hear about the life of a black man who has been the victim of senseless violence after he has died. I wanted to create a series that would introduce these wonderful, complex, imperfect, sensitive, ambitious, participants as they are now – as living and learning human beings. My hope is that this introduction, no matter how small in scale, would be a reminder that we need to suspend our biases and know that “the other” coming toward us from down the street, in the supermarket aisle, entering an elevator, or approaching a police officer is a human being who came from loving people and is a life that has value.
Regarding the process for making these pieces: The Photographer, Christopher Barclay took pictures of these men while I asked them dozens of questions around what they love, who they admire, what they fear, and what are their hopes and dreams. Chris was able to capture wonderful subtleties on their countenance and in their body language as they were contemplating and answering these questions. He then provided me with dozens of photographs (along with a recording of their interview), that I then took and responded to using acrylic paint, Plexiglas, photo prints and other materials. Due to the overwhelming amount of material at my disposal, I often focused on an excerpt of what one of our participants said and/or a subset of photos during a compelling period of their interview/photo session, and attempted to interpret that through my art making. Many pieces also contain excerpted quotes. A full realization of this body of work will provide the viewer with access to each interview so that they can look at a piece and hear the participants’ voices in the attempt to exchange our shared Humanity.
Clayton B. Evans has been the Deputy Director of Arts on the Block since 2014. Clayton received a BA in Studio Art (Education minor) from Lafayette College in 1989, and an MFA in Painting from Maryland Institute, College of Art in 1994. Clayton has dedicated most of his 29+ professional years towards working with youth, families, and older adults in community centers, schools, colleges and universities. Clayton received a PASE setter Award in 2000 for exceptional youth work in New York City. In addition to teaching visual arts, Clayton has extensive experiences in not-for-profit and arts management. From 2008-2010 he was the founding director of the LeRoy Neiman Art Center in Harlem, NYC. Prior to his position at Arts on the Block, Clayton was the Executive Director of Leave Out Violence-U.S. Clayton continues his studio art practice from Silver Spring, Maryland with his partner, son, daughter, and dog. For more on his studio work, visit Clayton’s website at https://claytonbevansartist.squarespace.com.
Bryan Fox aka Isa Muhammad Fox is an Afro-Latino transgender man (female-to-male), and Bronx, New York native who loves to box. In addition to being an artist who expresses himself through multiple mediums including but not limited to poetry, painting, photography, and drawing/illustration, Bryan Fox is also training to eventually compete in the amateur bouts. Fox has his work featured by different organizations including Parks and Recreation and the J-Collabo in Brooklyn, New York. Fox has one poetry chapbook out titled The Political Romantic, which can be found on Amazon’s website, and is working on a second chapbook titled Came Straight through Hell’s Gates.
Being born of black American parents in the mid 1970’s he faced many of the hurdles commonplace for his demographic. When Frank was three months old his father was taken from he and his mother by gun violence in the workplace. Frank’s mother was soon thereafter diagnosed with a chronic disease preventing her from working. He is an only child raised via his mother’s tenacity and his own perspective that his situation in life was only temporary.
Recognizing early on that it would only be through acceptance into the dominant culture that he could succeed, he set out to adopt cultural norms and mimic the behaviors of the dominant class. Reflecting on this he states, “As early as middle school, my mother told me, I would need to work twice as hard to achieve half as much in this world. I accepted that the rules of success were different for me because of my race and got to work. Although the rules were inequitable, there were rules; and that was something with which I could work?”
Frank’s efforts in middle and high school led to multiple college scholarship offers. Ultimately he chose Lafayette College over several traditionally black colleges because, to him, Lafayette better represented the larger world he was preparing to enter and it was more fiscally prudent.
He graduated Lafayette with a BA in Studio Art; briefly studied painting under fellowship at the University of New Orleans. After only one year of study, however, Frank entered the United States Air Force, serving for eight years during which time he became an avid amateur photographer. He earned an honorable discharge in 2007 and subsequently working as a technical trainer and instructional designer for the likes of Booz Allen Hamilton and IBM. Finally finding a home within civil service where he served within DoD and currently with DHS. His service to the country now spans nearly twenty years.
Frank Johnson is a pet parent, a husband, and veteran. Frank Johnson is an American.
Taylor Kowgios is currently an Art History Masters student at the University of Arizona and is the recipient of the graduate assistantship in Art History and the Ellwood C. Parry III Endowed Award in Art History.
She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lafayette College in English Literature and Art with a concentration in Photography and Art History. Graduating summa cum laude with the class of 2019 she fulfilled her undergraduate thesis in art history while also completing an (unofficial) studio photography thesis. At Lafayette College she was the recipient of the Creative and Performing Arts (CaPA) scholarship in studio art, the Dorian Scholarship in art history, and the Charles A. Dana Foundation Scholarship for merit-based achievement.
Kowgios’s research focuses in the period of the Northern European Renaissance, specifically in representations of pain in Christian Art throughout Early Modern Europe. Her undergraduate thesis, “The History of Pain in Art: Rogier van der Weyden’s Descent from the Cross,” tracked the artistic depictions of the apocryphal Deposition scene in Christianity, its roots in Biblical history, and renderings of pain and tears in European art, analyzing the culmination of these pieces in van der Weyden’s fifteenth century painting.
Megan Mauriello graduated from Lafayette, with a degree in Biology and Studio Art. She’s been working in the pharmaceutical industry since, but she’s been making sure to keep making art, especially digital art. Megan believes it is imperative that non-Black people work to keep up the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Meredith Morse studied visual art and art history at Lafayette College and was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. She exhibited with Legge Gallery in Sydney (Australia) in the 1990s, and completed her PhD in art history at the University of Sydney. She has taught 20th century art and performance history at Yale-NUS College, Singapore. Her monograph Soft is Fast: Simone Forti in the 1960s and After (2016) was published by the MIT Press.
Caroline Adams Russell is an artist currently located in Virginia. Her main medium is photography and her work often involves unconventional darkroom techniques and printing photographs on unique materials. Her current work focuses on creating art in sustainable ways, such as using the sun to develop prints and using eco-friendly resources.
For this online show, Russell is exhibiting “The Battle of Ball’s Bluff,” a cyanotype depicting the part of the Potomac River where Union forces crossed to face Confederate soldiers in one of the many Civil War battles that was fought in Virginia. The work emphasizes the weighted history Virginia has – as it is the state where the most Civil War battles occurred and its current capital was once the capital of the Confederacy. The work directs conversation in how to address this dark and stained history and how the past parallels events happening today. Russell also uses the poem “The Dreamer” written by an anonymous poet, emphasizing that these difficult discussions could lead to significant reform and positive change.
Russell has exhibited nationally in group shows throughout Virginia as well as the Midwest including the Tryst Gallery in Leesburg, VA (2019), Del Ray Artisans in Alexandria, VA, (2019), D’Art Center in Norfolk, VA (2020), and The Jones Gallery in Kansas City, MO (2019). In 2013 she was awarded third place in the James C. Macdonald Art Scholarship Competition in Visual Arts.
Along with having her work exhibited in galleries, Russell has also had the honor of having her work shown in numerous literary magazines including The Hand Magazine (2019) and The Sun (2020).
YiFan Xu graduated from Lafayette College in 2019 with a BA in Art and Film and Media Studies. She currently is pursuing her MFA degree at California Institute of the Arts. Xu works across film, video, sound, animation, installation, and writing. She enjoys the spontaneous and tactile process of making moving-images.