KINGSTON — The board of the South County Art Association was discussing ways to integrate diversity, equity and inclusion into its gallery when it began pitching ideas for an exhibit highlighting those themes.
Eventually, they decided to explore resettlement and migration through an all-media show called “Diaspora,” which is currently on display at the gallery and will run until July 16.
The exhibit was judged by Bob Dilworth, a retired art and art history professor from the University of Rhode Island who addresses race, culture and ethnicity in his own works. said SCAA Executive Director Jen Ferry.
“SCAA’s goal with this exhibition is to present different perspectives of the diaspora so that viewers can be exposed to different interpretations of this subject,” Ferry said. “Their hope is that viewers will watch, absorb and reflect on the meaning that each work conveys, then combine all of these perspectives and realize that this group show represents the makeup of who we are, a group of unique and diverse individuals. “
Artist Jillian Barber submitted a hand-drawn photograph to the show, which she titled “Hello Darling.” She was drawn to the theme of the diaspora because it has personal meaning for her: her mother, who is English, met her father, who was originally from the West, while serving in World War II.
They were married in October 1944 and her father returned home to Westerly – but Barber and her mother were unable to move to the United States until February 1947. Throughout this time Barber’s parents wrote letters to each other , which inspired his works.
“During these years after the war, a diaspora of more than 70,000 English war brides dispersed across America,” Barber said. “In a documentary, I saw a long line of young women with babies on their hips waiting to board a ship for the United States. My mother and I were part of this diaspora.”
Barber won third place for her piece – which she described as ‘my tribute to my parents in remembrance and gratitude for all they went through to create a family’ – while second place went to Rick Catallozzi for a photograph entitled “Human Struggle”.
Catallozzi’s photo shows protesters gathering in front of the Carrie Brown Bajnotti Fountain in Providence before marching to State House for a Black Lives Matter protest.
He took a few pictures of the fountain during the protest because it “seemed to fit the atmosphere”, but it wasn’t until he researched it later that he realized his sculpture center was called “The Struggle of Life”.
“It even brought more meaning after the fact, like why I was drawn to that fountain, and the situation, and everything that’s going on around it,” Catallozzi said.
Although Catallozzi’s photograph was taken close to home, photographer Stephen Wood’s is from an entirely different continent.
Wood took his photo, titled ‘Hair Salon’, when he visited Langa Township, South Africa, a few years ago. The community was built in the 1920s and is where black Africans were sent to live before apartheid.
“To this day, Langa Township is a living example of the diaspora,” Wood said.
Wood said he participated in the South County Art Association’s “Diaspora” exhibit in part because he enjoyed exhibits that challenged artists and viewers with their themes.
“More than just looking at fine art (and I love that too), this exhibition should make you stop and think about the nature of the world we live in,” he said.
Anyone who attends the show will not only look at each artwork, but will also be able to view statements from the accompanying artists: Each artist submitted a 50-word account of their work, and Fong said the descriptions were as interesting. than the work of art itself.
Overall, SCAA officials said, the show will draw attention to the forced migration of people from their home countries – something that has happened for thousands of years and continues to this day. .
“The work explores situations, historical and current, specific to particular cultural and ethnic groups all over the world,” Fong said. “It’s clear the artists put a lot of thought into creating the work.”