Art Exhibit Explores Human Rights

09.19.2013 | Fine Arts

An international roster of artists will display their works exploring human rights at a University of Dayton exhibit this fall.

"The One and the Many: Perspectives on Self and Other in Art & Human Rights" is a multimedia exhibition running Sept. 27 through Oct. 31 in Gallery 249 on the second floor of the College Park Center, 1529 Brown St. An artist reception is scheduled 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2. The reception and exhibit are free and open to the public.

From a bustling beach on the Turkish coast to the somber interiors of abandoned schools on an Oklahoma Seminole reservation, "The One and the Many" examines notions of human dignity from multiple perspectives. Artists include Isabel Avila, Juan Si Gonzalez, Merve Kayan and Zeynep Dadak, Sheryl Oring, and Issa Randall.

The exhibition, curated by University of Dayton visual arts assistant professor Glenna Jennings, takes its title from a book by UC-San Diego art history professor Grant Kester, one of the leading figures in the emerging dialogue around "relational" or "dialogical" art practices.

The exhibit will examine questions such as "Are human rights pre-political, or are they the artifacts of laws and institutions?" "Do they belong only to individuals or also to groups?" "How can we re-vision and de-center human rights to more broadly address the human condition for both the self and the community?" This exhibition brings artists whose work speaks, each in its own idiom, to human capability and the pursuit of both happiness and social justice.

Juan Si Gonzalez, an active participant in the international arts community for more than 20 years, will present new site-specific pieces that integrate his earlier street performances in La Habana, Cuba, with Grupo-Art-De (Arte y Derecho). The works will directly but poetically address the dangerous ocean journeys many Cuban refugees face, while alluding to a number of human rights issues in his home country through a critical but creative lens.

Isabel Avila contributes photographs from her work and research with indigenous communities throughout the American West. Her work addresses issues both past and present, including the historic mistreatment of American Indians at government boarding schools, the plundering of ancestral lands in California and the threat that coal mining poses to a Navajo reservation in Arizona.

Sheryl Oring's work often involves interactive performances in the category of social practice. For Role Model (2013), two "secretaries" asked passersby on the streets of Sao Paolo to answer the question "What can Brazil teach the world?" The exhibit presents original typed responses and other documentation of the event, performed at Encuentro (Cities/Bodies/Action: The Politics of Passion in the Americas).

Filmmakers Merve Kayan and Zeynep Dadak's short film Bu Sahilde ("On the Coast") blends fact and fiction in its playful representation of Erkili, a coastal Turkish town. The work, which examines notions of leisure, movement and the everyday, stands in contrast to the recent political upheaval in Istanbul. University of Dayton alum Issa Randall will debut new multimedia pieces that address notions of colonial identities through an investigation of West African fabrics produced in the Netherlands.

This exhibition is sponsored by the Department of Visual Arts and is part of a larger conversation on Human Rights throughout the University of Dayton, which includes ongoing events organized by the College of Arts and Science's "Rites.Rights.Writes," ArtStreet's "Right Here. Right Now" and the national conference " Curator Glenna Jennings is a Peter McGrath Human Rights Fellow (2012-13), with research focusing on the representation of social welfare practices in the National Cash Register photographic archives.

Gallery 249 is located on the second floor of College Park Center at 1529 Brown St. on the University of Dayton campus. Limited visitor parking is available at College Park Center. Visitors should obtain a parking pass from the parking attendant located on the University Circle. To reach the second floor, obtain an access card at the front desk on the first floor of College Park Center. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday. For more information, contact the Department of Visual Arts at 937-229-3237.