Updated: Oct 17, 2022
September 9 - October 15, 2022
Dale Brock and Visiting Angels Gallery & Frost Gallery
Arts Fort Worth continues celebrating The Fort Worth Community Arts Center’s twentieth anniversary with the return of The Fort Worth Biennial, a survey exhibition highlighting and celebrating the artistic talents of Texas artists. Building on past exhibitions like The 39-Hour Show and the original biennial that ended in 2014, this newly announced exhibition will become a biennial in even-numbered years.
For the exhibition’s new iteration, Arts Fort Worth will honor Fort Worth’s unique and diverse arts community.
About the Juror
Juror Lilia Kudelia, a curator and art historian, is a guest curator at Residency Unlimited in New York; she develops residencies for the laureates of the Young Visual Artists Awards (YVAA), a network of twelve awards in the counties of Eastern, Central, and Southern Europe. Kudelia has previously worked as the Assistant Curator at Dallas Contemporary and held curatorial and research positions at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and Art Arsenal in Kyiv, Ukraine. In 2017, Kudelia co-curated Ukrainian National Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale, which featured work by photographer Boris Mikhailov. She holds an MA in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, a BA in Cultural Studies from the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Ukraine and was a visiting scholar at the University of Toronto, Canada. Her research interests include time-based media arts, cultural heritage and restitution, artistic movements, and infrastructures in the post-communist states.
That Texas Lullaby
The 2022 Fort Worth Biennial unravels many memories and sensations absorbed by the artists in childhood. When it comes to the visceral experience of the world, there is no limit to remembrance of our authentic selves, as much as there has to be no curtailment to interrogation of local mythologies and folklore. The works in the exhibition articulate how idealized perceptions of the world formed during nonage are oftentimes doomed to be in dissonance with the failing social systems that we encounter upon growing up. We switch from baby cradles to rocking horses and rocking chairs, to beds and couches (particularly present in the post-pandemic work-from-home settings) in a desire to restore these joys of early upbringing and to resolve divisive socio-political issues. Coming from many regions of America, Asia and the Levant, in this exhibition the artists who consider Fort Worth their home emphasize the need for attunement – in a cultural and political sense – in order for the communities to feel closer and connected.
Texas is a crib swaying with dangerously high amplitudes. Kelsey Wells reminds about this in her miniature sculpture that references Frederic Remington’s iconic painting “Dash for the Timber.” In a humble way, her cartoonish representation of a cowboy suggests that the current debatable, if not fallacious state politics are still haunted by the affect of a mythical action-filled, monumentalized gallop into the dusty clouds of an imaginary frontier. Other works in the show directly reiterate harrowing questions related to Texas permissive gun laws that result in numerous mass shootings, discriminatory prejudice towards migrants, regulatory politics that violate reproductive and gender identity rights among others. In this regard, the hunter’s game birds iconography that Kyle Hanson masterfully scrutinizes reflects on human’s dreadful ability for undoing and overcoming the alive, the pristine, the beautiful. Yet, to paraphrase Hanson’s ideas, the connectedness can only exist in a wish to admire the flying birds, not to pluck them from the sky with a gun. Alexis Houston’s forged sculpture metaphorically embodies such dichotomy of internal and external struggles and the search for balance within.
Augmenting the familiar shape of a popular Jenga game and a still life painting genre, Claudia Meysen’s works ask: Whose “freedom” and “safety” tragically amasses in Texas homes in the shape of an exploded, flower-resembling bullet? Text, analyzed through the lens of the visual as it appears in Brock Kingsley’s photographs, reminds us that in times of heightened legislative attacks on education in America and the attempts to ban certain literature in particular, it is crucial to be aware of the epistemological violence and the tyranny that can be enacted through language. The method of layering is echoed in the repetitive narrative of Sean McGuire’s video installation that ponders endless loops of hostility, antagonisms and unarticulated violence symptomatic to our society nowadays.
Saria AlMidani inhales life into the random photos taken in their native Damaskus inviting the viewer to think deeper about the endeavors of resocialization caused by displacement. How does it feel for someone to carry out the blurred vision of their previous life in an attempt to articulate the self, the stress, the trauma in a different cultural context? Similarly, Jay Chung decomposes human figure in a landscape to explore the idea of social life as mere imagination or dreaming in contrast to the cerebral consciousness we gain through simply occupying a space with a body. Christopher Nájera’s objects render the ephemeral but impactful moments in life that
reflect his queer identity and Chicanx roots and have withstood shame, guilt and oppression imposed by his traditionalist religious upbringing.
Seen in perspective, the artists’ dialogues with their younger selves, testify to a hefty cost of the normalization of any hatred that targets “otherness” and the long work required in order to detangle the cumulative emotional wounding. Yet, there are stories that “magic birds can cure,” Gale Gibbs convinces; and this healing largely depends on sincere communication. Joy Reyes’ autobiographical painting dedicated to her grandparents serves as a telling reminder of the importance of inscribing and reiterating familial stories, which become roots once the households resettle. Playing resourcefully with a positive and negative space, Katie McKay Jones in her paintings defines the idea of fear as a conscious choice. Looking at her images, we can either feel baffled in front of unbreakable crenelated walls of some medieval fortress or victoriously outstare an imaginary monster with a gaping jaw. Embracing the statements of artists-caregivers, including Layla Luna who structures her practice around her children’s nap times, the exhibition is a reminder of a short window of opportunity for the incremental acts of creative labor. Indeed, a lot can be done to avert the world’s fears from future generations while the little hu