It's Your World:Art about the Future of Community
Located in Louisville’s Portland neighborhood, 1619 Flux: Art + Activism strives to inspire change within the community by offering a creative space for art and dialogue to take place. The current exhibition, It’s Your World: Art About the Future of Community features local artists of various experience levels and backgrounds. For many of them, this is their first time exhibiting and the energy of doing so encompasses the space. The work reflects upon the future of West Louisville communities, and artists from these communities were the primary focus in the call for submissions, providing a valuable lens through which we view and interact with the artwork.
Within Louisville and the surrounding area, the West End carries a primarily negative connotation, stereotyped as the “bad” part of town. Associating this area with poverty, crime, and instability has also mislabeled the people and artists that call it home, stripping them of any identity other than where they live. This exhibition is a platform that reinserts the perspectives and experiences of the people who live and create in West Louisville communities. What do we deem as significant about the places in which we live, and what does this say about our culture? It’s Your World explores the role artists have in envisioning and improving the future of the neighborhoods, studios, spaces they reside in, and the communities they inevitably create.
Artist Linda Erzinger engages community quite literally in her artwork. Although the imagery used in her painting One seems indiscernible at first glance, the vibrant layering embodies the power art has to bring people together. The large work started as a blank canvas presented at the Mighty Kindness Festival that takes place every May in Louisville. Held at the Waterfront Park, the festival’s intent is to promote community unity through positive activities and music. The artist provided paint markers and encouraged the public to express themselves, transforming the canvas into a collaboration of ideas and images that ultimately reflect the community. Later in her studio, Erzinger elaborated upon it in transparent washes in order “to create a united community expression,” as the artist statement reads. Viewing this painting is a twofold act: observing the work in its entirety, then traveling through the layers of imagery, color, shapes, and text that serve as the creative foundation and voice of the artwork.
Mightier by Noah Howard epitomizes the power of creativity. Empty bullet cases stand upright on a wooden shelf, the tips replaced by crayons molded into the shape of bullets. The sculpture makes a statement regarding the choice people have in how they choose to arm themselves: one of unity or of opposition, creativity or destruction. The minimal design reflects a profound statement that is timely and poignant amidst the argument of gun control reform. Mightier also represents artists who bear arms by employing their creativity as a method of facilitating dialogue concerning societal and political issues, speaking to the strength of art as a producer of perspective and empathy.
The representation of place is a prominent and relevant subject of It’s Your World, as location and environment form and influence perspective and experiences. Ink washes animated by dark gestural strokes of charcoal and ink emanate a tone of turbulence and chaos in 26th and Broadway by Sara Muhammad. A paragraph of words in the bottom right area of the work attempts to share a way of understanding, but remains illegible, further disarming the viewer. The association with 26th and Broadway, an intersection in West Louisville, evokes numerous questions as to what significance this location holds to the artist and what it represents. Broadway runs West to East through the majority of Louisville, serving as a horizontal axis along which communities change and buildings rise up, undertaking different meanings depending on the location. This makes Muhammad’s artistic depiction all the more perplexing; the viewer thus becomes the outsider, displaced by their own disassociation and lack of awareness.
The exhibition is a mosaic of interpretations and a visual compilation of how places are experienced differently and accumulate varying significance. It reestablishes West Louisville as a place within the larger Louisville community, as shared by the artists through their candid depictions. Although the artworks provide relatable perspectives on the human condition, it is important that we engage further. The artwork of It’s Your World incites a conversation and encourages viewers to recognize and support the communities in which 1619 Flux dwells.
It’s Your World: Art About the Future of Community is on display at 1619 Flux: Art + Activism until May 25.
1619 Flux: Art + Activism is located at 1619 West Main Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40203 and is open Friday and Saturday from 1-4p.
Alexis Doerr, Guest Contributor to Ruckus
Dreamer, by Andrea Alonso.
Mightier by Noah Howard.
One, by Linda Erzinger.