January 11 – March 23, 2019
In conjunction with Denver’s Month of Photography, Gravity of Perception brings together artists who work with archives, both historic and newly created, to shed light on the past, reflect on our present, inspire hope for the future.
Sundown towns, redlining, Ferguson, LGBTQ discrimination and gun violence – these are difficult American histories. These histories contain stories we should not forget. And, many of these stories are not told often enough – including in fine art spaces.
Gravity of Perception, on view through March 23 at the Center for Visual Art, brings together seven lens-based artists – Tya Anthony, Marcella Ernest, Kris Graves, Zora Murff, Lorenzo Triburgo, Xaveria Simmons and Krista Wortendyke – who delve into these histories in ways that are, “both understated and powerful, sobering and uplifting,” says Cecily Cullen, Director and Curator of CVA.
Krista Wortendyke and Kris Graves prompt us to look closer at larger social issues and prompt conversations about race and violence. Whether it’s Graves’ haunting and poignant photographs memorializing the sites where young black men lost their lives to police or Wortendyke’s colorful, abstract data visualization, the artists use visual absences to ask us to consider the implications of those losses.
“While the work in Gravity of Perception may prompt difficult conversations or shed light on uncomfortable truths, each artists’ work also offers the opportunity for reflection and empathy. These artists do not just open our eyes and awareness, but invite us to envision a better, more inclusive future, “ says Cullen.
In that vein, Xaviera Simmons and Tya Anthony create work that offers us a glimpse at what that future could be. In her Sundown series, Simmons envisions and crafts a world where the large volume of artistic and intellectual contributions of people of color are rightfully revered and held precious. Anthony’s work boldly envisions the traditional tarot card deck with bodies of color standing as powerful deities, visionaries and archetypes.
“This exhibition celebrates the work of artists of color, female artists, LGBTQ artists and Native American artists. Artists from communities that generally do not receive as much opportunity and exposure in the fine art realm, “ says Cullen. “A recent study by the Public Library of Science which found that 85 percent of artists in U.S. museum collections are white, and 87 percent are male confirms that representation is an ongoing issue.”
Marcella Ernest and Lorenzo Triburgo’s work explores the lives of individuals in these underrepresented, marginalized communities. Both artists explore their subjects’ experiences as a way to translate critical issues of gender, sexuality, safety and belonging. Triburgo’s beautifully rendered and protective “portraits” of LGBTQ prisoners and Ernest’s experimental film amplifies their subjects’ voices to an audience that might otherwise ignore them or keep them at a distance.
“What connects each of these artists – and all of the artists we work with at the CVA – is their approach to their practice and how they deftly imbue their work with a keen intelligence that compels you to look deeper, pause and reflect,” says Cullen.
Zora Murff’s sweeping work, Re-Making the Mark, is a notable example of that intellectual approach as he employs his deep knowledge of history and psychology to meditate on the differences, and similarities, between fast and slow violence. Just as America’s urban landscape is still shaped by generations of segregation and systematic discrimination, we have the opportunity to learn from the past and use that insight to build a better, more inclusive tomorrow, starting today.
Gravity of Perception is organized by the Center for Visual Art and the Center for Fine Art Photography and is curated by Cecily Cullen, Hamidah Glasgow and Natascha Seideneck. Special thanks to the MSU Denver of Office of Diversity and Inclusion for their generous support.
- Cecily Cullen, Curator
Artists in the Exhibition