The title of this exhibition is a homage to two famous works--Aaron Douglas painting, building More Stately Mansion which links the labor history of African American men and women with the foundation of great civilizations, and the Chambered Nautilus, a poem by Oliver Wendell
Holmes, Sr. that uses the imagery of the mansion to represent the “self” and the nautilus as a noble creature that symbolizes continual growth and therefore continual re-building of the “self.”
These works are a jumping off point for two ideas. First, The United States owes their iconic structures, infrastructure, and heritage to the contributions of people who had little to no power in an imbalanced power structure just as many of the wealthy elite, particularly of the gilded age, owe their station in life to this same power structure. Second, those of us that create, have an uncanny ability to create “something from nothing”. Since the nature of art making requires constant self examination and evolution of skill and concept, we are in many respects, a symbol for perpetual growth just as the nautilus is for Holmes.
In response to the discussion of the class divide that has been at the forefront of political debate, ore Stately Mansion will harken back to a historical symbol of wealth inequality, the gilded age of the 1800s and 1900s. This was a time when great American mansions were built, largely on the backs of slave, non unionized, and/or new immigrant laborers. These mansions have continued to be highly valued in today's society as beacons of the American Dream. Asking artists to transform the gallery space into a rendition of these iconic structures through interactive work made from free materials is a way of investigating the artist’s role in the class divide, the role of the class divide in the exclusionary stigma in the arts, and the value system of the American dream.
The following is a list of visual artists selected to make interactive work for this exhibition based on proposals they submitted in November, 2016: Tiernan Alexander, Jim Dessicino, Stephan Dobosh, Siri Langone, Lauren McCarty, Harry Sanchez, Dena Shottenkirk, Steven Earl Weber, and Zach Zecha.