NOW MORE THAN EVER
May 4 – August 18, 2019
Opening Reception: Sat., May 4 from 7-10PM
Artists: Janan Abedelmuti, Yara Almouradi, Dylan Flah, Jose Flores Nava, Desmond Jervis, Hadley Mattwig, Pamela Rush
The expression “now more than ever” may be the most representative phrase for our current climate of opposition. It precedes calls to action across political spectrums from environmental entreaties to calling out social media restrictions on conservative perspectives, to upholding freedom of the press. It is the title of a Zadie Smith short story where the protagonist ultimately falls victim to the underlying intolerance of her own ideals. The revival of the phrase reflects a pervasive sense of crisis, one that is both perceived and felt. Yet, the overuse of the slogan poses a danger in rendering it meaningless. Now does not last forever.
Now More Than Ever features the work of seven artists in the MFA and BFA programs at California State University, Fullerton. Their current work encapsulates a “now more than ever” cultural moment. The work shares an urgency as well as a distillation of social and political issues as they relate to notions of self. Jose Flores Nava boldly addresses both migrant identity and border issues in his ceramic “prototypes,” while Yara Almouradi presents portraits of Syrian refugees combining large-scale drawings with printed emails and other ephemera that provide a glimpse of their lives in exile. With a more conceptual approach, Desmond Jervis has created a seemingly understated video and sculpture installation critiquing racial representation and traditional ceramic narratives, whereas Dylan Flah explores gender through the visual trappings of sports culture.
Janan Abedelmuti, Hadley Mattwig, and Pamela Rush offer more personal explorations of identity. Through stitching, collaged elements, and abstract marks Abedelmuti’s intimate paintings capture emotions, thoughts, and events that document the discovery of self. Hadley Mattwig recreates a version of her family’s living room to question how sense of place reverberates in memory to undermine the formation of identity. In contrast, Pamela Rush’s projected photographs present a more prescriptive view of identity influenced by cliché and pop culture.
For these artists, making art in a time of crisis has resulted in deeply personal work that invites viewers to reconsider how identity is linked to a current moment. When an urgent feeling is tied to a concrete act, we may find an antidote to losing our sense of “now.”
Kelly Lindner is Director and Curator of the Jacki Headley University Art Gallery at California State University, Chico.