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THE KALENGA FAMILY, North Hill, Furaha's Graduation Day by Autumn Bland

The Artists of SHIFT: Thinking Globally, Acting Locally Are Here to Remind You That the Only Constant is Change

SHIFT: Thinking Globally, Acting Locally arrives at the Ohio Arts Council’s (OAC) Riffe Gallery right on time. Maria Seda-Reeder curated and supported a phenomenal group of artists from across the state to create and exhibit artwork that moves, stretches, and transforms the gallery space while simultaneously driving at the heart of the “shifts” we’ve all had to make in our lives over the course of the coronavirus pandemic. After more than a year of temporary closure, it feels really good to be writing about an exhibition that I know many of you will visit in person. 

Thinking globally does not necessarily imply any kind of scale or specific topic. Rather, thinking globally comes first from a deep understanding of our interconnection and interdependence as humans inhabiting a shared space—our planet. Thinking globally can begin with deeply intimate knowledge and exploration. 

Houses I Have Haunted: Tower Cottage by Amber J. Anderson

From a distance, Amber J. Anderson’s “Houses I Have Haunted” series is subtle and muted, but up close, the eyes long to investigate these dark corners. We are left wondering about the places we have left behind, what is really gone, what is really here, and how we might reconcile spaces and places that seem to linger in our minds for too long. Each house is named, for its architectural style, but I connect their names to the process of naming our griefs—that we might call them something and reduce their power. 

Xia Zhang’s “Growth Death Repeat” began germinating just days before the exhibition opened. Her careful application of chia seeds to terracotta gravestones becomes the surface for the living work: the chia will grow, flourish, and then die. The work may be a graveyard, but it’s full of green life that explores the relationship of the body to material and to social constructs. It allows the viewer to think more deeply about the lifecycle of their own body and communities. 

Death Growth Repeat by Xia Zhang. Image of green chia seeds growing on terracotta tombstonesONE

After 35 years of living and making work in California, Lauren Davies returned to Northeast Ohio and found herself confronted with memories of Rust-Belt manufacturing replaced by abandoned factories, prisons, and schools. Davies’ photographs of these forgotten places were sent to Walmart to be printed on fabric that the artist then cuts up and rebuilds into works that represent forgotten places and people. Her work, which frays and spills down the gallery wall and onto the floor, discusses the impact of technology on the landscape and hints at the concepts that we have not abandoned but only slightly revised or relocated. 

Reform and Educate by Lauren Davies. Photo-and-fiber-based artwork of a desk in an abandoned prison.

Kevin Harris is a keen observer, and his collection of images, ideas, and objects become compositions of pain and joy, pressure and progress, destruction and pollination. His images pull and compel the viewer to respond to the people and symbols he carefully layers 

together. Harmful institutions and social frameworks fluctuate and are transformed under his careful, powerful attention to detail. Nine bees from his pollinator series, “HIVE,” are cleverly located around the gallery—buzzing around the ceiling and cocooned in corners—a kind of reward for an eye that takes everything in. 

Eradication 1 by Kevin Harris

SHIFT is not a dark reimagining or an outright critique of modern society. Instead, it seats the viewer in the midst of artists who are thinking, working, and acting in ways that support and sustain the rediscovery of our collective unity; creators who seek to balance and reimagine systems that do not support us all. They are thought leaders, material explorers, and conscientious citizen artists who invite you to come and feel the SHIFT happening all around us. 

SHIFT will be presented at the OAC Riffe Gallery through October 9, 2021. For more information about upcoming SHIFT programming, and to view a virtual exhibition experience, visit riffegallery.org

ABOUT THE OAC RIFFE GALLERY
The Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery showcases the work of Ohio's artists and the collections of the state's museums and galleries. The Riffe Gallery is located in the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts, 77 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215. 

Visit Riffegallery.org, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram

ABOUT THE OHIO ARTS COUNCIL
The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at oac.ohio.gov.

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Article by Aimee Wissman, 2020-21 OAC Riffe Gallery Marketing and Exhibitions Fellow
Featured image: "THE KALENGA FAMILY, North Hill, Furaha's Graduation Day" by Autumn Bland. 2020, Archival inkjet print, 20" x 16" x 2"



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