Us + Them = U.S. Finding Common Ground in a Divided Nation
A GROUP EXHIBITION Curated by: Philippa B. Hughes and Deirdre Darden
January 13 – March 4, 2017 Gallery hours: Wednesday to Friday 11am – 5pm & Sunday 11am – 3pm Exhibition Opening Tonight, Friday, 13th from 7-9pm @ Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery Location: 1632 U Street, Washington DC 20009
Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery is proud to present Us + Them = U.S. Finding Common Ground in a Divided Nation, a powerful visual response confronting the division our country faces. A group of Washington DC area’s most influential artists and activists will examine and investigate our nation’s current political and cultural rift and explore how we can find a collective understanding through contemporary art-making methods.
Artist Include: Kate DeCiccio, Michael Fischerkeller, Otessa Ghadar, Aziza Claudia Gibson Hunter, Akemi Maegawa, Carolina Mayorga, Tsedaye Makonnen, Stan Squirewell Lisa Marie Thalhammer, Stan Squirewell, Lisa Marie Thalhammer, T. Thompson, WorkingmanCollective (w/ Colby Caldwell) and Helen Zughaib
Painting above by Lisa Marie Thalhammer Anahata Series Self Portrait: Tadasana Mountain pose with Chest Stretch & Black Heart, 2015-2017 Oil on Canvas: 48” x 60”
LISA MARIE’S ARTIST STATEMENT:
I realize that a tear in America is deepening. Cataloguing the “us” as people we look like or agree with and the “them” as people we do not look like nor agree with is the cause of suffering. The truth is that underneath our physical bodies and minds we are all made of an energy that connects everything. We have more in common with our “others” than most recognize.
It was 2014 that I watched Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson execute Michael Brown on the streets of North County St. Louis, across the highway from where I grew up. It was this year that I suffered a traumatic brain injury that resulted in post concussion syndrome. It was this year that I separated from my partner of eight years. It was a challenging and transformative year.
Healing began and by 2015 I had acquired a serious yoga and meditation practice. I began this painting one evening after attending a Sangha gathering led by African-American Buddhist Angel Kyodo Williams. Through these discussions and practices I began thinking about the break down of identity and the interconnectedness of all things. I thought about the construct of whiteness and my love for my friends and peoples of a darker skin tone. I thought about my own healing process and journeys through Mexico and Peru. I thought about the Anahata Heart Charka and how to heal my energy centers, which still ached from previous loss.
My intention in this work is to show a personal vulnerability balanced by strength. The figure is a self-portrait painting standing in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with a chest stretch. The energy at the chest is represented by an image of a black heart with arteries that branch out like the limbs of a tree. To me the black heart represents love for the “other”, love for the persons whom check different boxes than I do.
Inspired by the John Stauffer book, The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race, this 1846 exchange between the black physician James McCune and his white abolitionist friend Gerrit Smith moved me:
“Before equality could be attained, there had to be a profound shift in American consciousness: “The heart of the whites must be changed, thoroughly, entirely, permanently changed,” McCune Smith said. He went on to suggest that whites had to understand what it was like to be black. They had to learn how to view the world as if they were black, shed their “whiteness” as a sign of superiority, and renounce their belief in skin color as a marker of aptitude and social status. They had to acquire, in effect, a black heart.”
Thalhammer is a visual artist known for her feminist, large-scale works. She exhibits in her hometown of Washington, D.C., as well as Vienna Austria, Detroit, Indiana and L.A. She recently received 2017 DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Fellowship and Public Art Building Communities awards along with a Dubois County Community Foundation award to paint large public murals in Washington, DC and Ferdinand, Indiana. Her DC Alley Museum mural project was named “Best of 2015” by the Washington Post and will also expand in 2017. Check out her “Women in Politics” mural, on this block next to the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, located at Local 16 roof deck bar, 1602 U Street NW. www.lisamariestudio.com firstname.lastname@example.org