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Live Free or Die

Rhonda Schaller Studio
547 West 27th Street, Suite 529
March 8 - March 31, 2007
Reception: Saturday, March 10, 3 - 5 PM
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This exhibition explores the yearnings within the human soul for expression & release, dignity & freedom. Exhibiting artist’s work in a variety of media from video to oil, steel to encaustic. They represent many cultures and give expression to impulses centered on politics, control, personal freedom, and spiritual rebirth.

To force the consideration of passive observation and its ramifications, artist Rees Shad asks us to consider when are we as citizens responsible for the actions of our elected officials. In his video installation Mote, Shad draws comparisons between current members of the Bush administration and figures from various forms of German and American media. Using a video game controller, images of Minnie Mouse, an androgynous black face in profile, and a gold teeth grill, Minnie’s Fetish by artist Cullen B. Washington Jr. engages us in dialogue surrounding the quest of freedom in America and our means of achieving it. He questions whether the cost of our authentic identity is part of the American dream, using references to social addictions and consumerist fantasies.

Gregory O’Toole’s Theft in a Poor Fad Foolish Nation, is a satire on the messages of mass media today, and asks the viewer to make their own conclusions about what is significant in this world. His collaged painting with mixed media and India ink utilizes found messages of text, audio, video and still images juxtaposed against their own or mis-matched advertisement and ‘news’ imagery. Jenny Pompe embeds text in textiles, and asks how does the vehicle carrying a particular text affect its reading and meaning? With her window curtain, Sophistry made specifically for the exhibition, the artist embroidered on voile excerpts of the current administrations speeches and press conferences.

Warhead #16 by photographer Diane Bush specifically targets the media. Warhead #16 is part of a series that combines the macro-photographs she took off the TV set, one for every day of the first Gulf War (43 days) with bleach and potassium ferry cyanide thrown onto the prints, bringing the reality of destruction into the medium and the message. Cartoonist Paul D. Candelaria uses the editorial cartoon to express his belief that to live free is to never to have to fear speaking the truth. In the modern era when a simple line drawing may be seen as a criminal act, and engender death threats, can he dare being heard.

Corie J. Cole’s Untitled Decorative Object #1 a ceramic sculpture of George W. Bush as a revolutionary freedom fighter asks us to consider some of the complexities and difficulties of understanding, living and working in a free country. Caroline Holder states that freedom, like other absolute ideals is a complex proposition, and wonders if it can rise above its range of meanings. In her 6pc ceramic dinner service Homeland Insecurity she asks can we ever be completely free and still function as members of a society? The complexities of faith and purpose are illuminated in John Sumner’s(black and white photograph Priest in Jerusalem. Midst the frantic hustle of pilgrims searching for truth, freedom and salvation in Israel’s old city, Sumner captures the unnerving glance of the priest, as he floats along the labyrinth streets.

Rina Peleg’s* Idol Family in Pain sprang from her toys r us series, where she uses recycled thrift shop newspapers and magazine articles of John F. Kennedy and his family, in combination with clay and resin to memorialize a symbol of freedom, what he fought for, died for, and within the form of a toy car ­ his entombment and burial. Asterio Tecson’s monumental oil on canvas Central Park-Fragments of Remembered Time, which took almost a year for the artist to complete, is a montage of American portraits and images from history and society, done in marvelous realistic detail, the viewer is asked to consider the choices, contradictions and consequences of our way of life, and the pursuit of creative freedom. Dasha Ziborova was born and raised in the former Soviet Union, and quit giving any political or social meaning to the word freedom a long time ago. Her delicate renderings of fantastical creatures both human and animal invite us to release judgment and stereotypes that imprison the imagination, as she refuses to sink into a shape of mind and decreed vision other than her own.

Inner Storm #2 acrylic on canvas by Fernando Ferreira de Arujo reflects an intuitive process, where we enter the world of the artist, and his personal struggle to achieve insight and evolve freely through painting. His beautiful abstract landscape invites us into a contemplative moment of our own making. Angie Deal is an abstract painter, who states that freedom is her ability to paint and express herself without holding back; to create art without imposed boundaries. Her unrestrained watercolor Untitled #13 is an expression of the tension between the intuitive inner drive and the formal canvas.

Barthelemy Atsin takes his inspiration from life experiences in an unpredictable world where nothing is promised. He states to live freely is to create personally connected pieces of art by using a variety of artistic forms without limitation. His acrylic and oil painting Billie Holiday is an inspired portrait of beauty and compassion, and captures the unpredictable element of talent and emotion. Monique Luck’s Made with Dust brings us into another world, one in which possibilities are held onto, regardless of circumstances. Her mixed media on canvas considers the growth of good seeds even when planted in ‘bad dirt’, the opportunities awaiting an unborn child, and about living anyway ­ even when all you have to offer is the same world given to you.

Endure by Karen Gutfreund uses encaustic and the definitions of the word endure situated within the chained female form on light box. Working with hope in adversity, the artist states that we who believe will endure and effect change. Karen Abboud states that freedom exists only in moving through the present moment. A resident of New Orleans, and a Katrina survivor her enigmatic and poetic encaustic and assemblage series Under-Flow deals with the remembrance of being and the leveling of self, as reflected by the waters of the levees as they ebbed and flowed.

Kathleen Moore’s oil paintings show us that living life in freedom and self-expression are manifest ways of living in genuineness. Her Sound Out and In Blessed Traditions speaks to the truth she finds living in Spirit. Carol Goebel takes the spirit into flight with sculpture made with old tools and welded steel. Her Sweet Flyer comes out of the internal river of life, creativity and instinct. Harry Matti Hukkinen paints the goddess in his oil on canvas Vortex. She has shed her constraints and without shame she chooses to step courageously into the unknown, willing to face anything, even death, for the chance of living free.

Aaron Cohick states that to be free is a choice to promote agency, concrete and palpable. In his series of ‘self binding books’, he distributes public domain manuscripts and asks the viewer to construct an experience through which all involved realize the infectious empowerment of their own potential. Night Moon by Judy Aiello is an assemblage of composed fragile elements, groupings of similar forms alluding to congregation and isolation. Her forms spin off from her personal process in a search for individual meaning within the collective. Stefanie Sciarrino’s photograph Williamsburg #9 looks at what is unseen by many and explores the human drive to leave a piece of themselves, literally leaving their mark on the world in her depictions of the doors and walls of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Stina Marshall defines freedom as the essential act of the artist to surrender ideas, onto canvas and into nature. She presents us with the liberation of inner-monologues; the psychological elements, the tears, the love, the pain, the confusion -articulated into tangible shapes and color patterns with her Calculated Chaos, created with pen and ink, and texture filter. Ruth A. Block Oes Synthesis #2, an acrylic and mixed media collage, takes us inside to the heart and soul of the artist. Her use of the Mandela form as a focus point, allows the viewer to travel the lines of the work, simultaneously moving between the inner spaces of our own humanity and the physicality of the artists palette and composition. Rhonda Schaller’s mixed media on paper Orange altar: Rebirth looks at the meaning of freedom from a spiritual point of view. She states to be free is her inner hearts need to vibrate and excel its way out of meaninglessness.
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