Prof. Alshaibi joins global luminaries in Bellagio residency

Invited to the prestigious Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center residency program, University of Arizona School of Art Regents Professor Sama Alshaibi joined other top global artists, scholars and scientists tackling issues such as water and climate in addition to working on her art project that explores the impact of Iraq’s laws on women.

Since 1959, the monthlong residency program in Bellagio, Italy, has welcomed more than 4,000 luminaries from 130 countries, including 100 Nobel Laureates. This year’s cohort included Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz (United States), scientist Solomon Assefa (Ethiopia), global health expert Alaa Murabit (Libya), renowned dancer and choreographer Bijayini Satpathy (India) and novelist Gioconda Belli (Nicaragua).

School of Art Professor Sama Alshaibi, in Bellagio, Italy. (Photo courtesy of Alshaibi)

Alshaibi, an Iraqi-naturalized U.S. citizen who received a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship, was among 100 participants selected from 2,000 applications for the Bellagio program.

She was part of an interdisciplinary cohort that engaged with four Rockefeller groups that focused on climate solutions; reinventing capitalism; promoting well-being; and health, equity, innovative finance and Artificial Intelligence.

“The Bellagio Center has been privileged to host the world’s most innovative scholars, practitioners and artists who are committed to the betterment of humanity for more than 60 years,” said Natalye Paquin, Rockefeller’s chief operating officer, on the foundation’s website.

Meanwhile, Alshaibi worked on “Paratext [59/41]” — her emerging technology and text-based art project that examines Baghdad’s post-war metropolis and Iraq’s legal instruments “subjecting women and girls to devastating effect,” she said. Reflecting the influence of Iraq’s 1959 Personal Status Law and Article 41 of the Iraq Constitution on women’s rights and security, the project interrogates the country’s social norms and public life in the aftermath of the 2003 US invasion, sectarian wars, and the rise and fall of ISIL, according to her project’s abstract.

“I’ve made three trips to Iraq in the past 18 months—scanning public sites, researching archives, interviewing activists and ordinary women, and visiting fraught spaces where women and girls are trafficked or provided refuge,” Alshaibi said. “Together, we overcome barriers to tell a complex historical and evolving story of women in Iraq.”

Her multimedia installation will simulate an archive.

“I will be producing looping video and sound recordings, manuscripts, images, and constructed testimonies made from LIDAR data point clouds,” said Alshaibi, part of the school’s renowned Photography, Video & Imaging program. “Texts are extracted from data and non-literary documents concerned with the legal production of gendered inequality, including Iraq’s police logs, statistical reports, and legal writing, including the national constitution.”

For Alshaibi, the project is an intervention and a framework to comprehend Iraq’s laws and their impact on society. “Sectarianism is gendered, and controlling women’s bodies translates to control of the Iraqi people. Iraq’s women and girls have long been subjected to a gendered shadow war waged by outsiders and their fellow citizens alike,” she said. “Though today many Iraqi women are challenging political attitudes and social norms around the repression of women, the lack of official accountability for most assassinations, kidnappings, exploitation, and domestic violence places these women in extreme danger.”

“Paratext [57/41]” amphlifies how Iraqi women resist their challenges, Alshaibi said, explaining that since October 2019, Iraqis have led civil protests calling for greater rights and ending corruption by sectarian forces whose armed militias dominate the government and streets.

“Women who dare to oppose the status quo by organizing, demonstrating, and seeking legal reform are violently targeted by the authorities,” Alshaibi said. “As an Iraqi naturalized US citizen, I believe their struggles require our attention.”

Prof. Romano probes marble portrait of Alexander in new book

Alexander the Great has been popular for over 2,300 years, but University of Arizona Art History Professor Irene Bald Romano explains how the image and myths surrounding one of history’s greatest military generals have been manipulated and appropriated in her new book.

Professor Irene Bald Romano

In “Beth Shean Studies: Aspects of Religion, History, Art, and Archaeology in Hellenistic and Roman Nysa-Scythopolis,” Romano and co-author Kyle W. Mahoney probe two artifacts excavated in 1925 in Beth Shean, Israel — a Roman marble portrait of Alexander the Great and a Hellenistic-inscribed stele fragment — by the Palestine Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania Museum.

The book includes an appendix by two scientists in Athens who conducted the analysis of the marble of Alexander’s head and identified the quarry. The American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia supported Romano’s research with grants and agreed to publish the book in a series which has been continuously published since 1771 — the oldest publication in America — and now distributed by Penn Press.

The University of Arizona School of Art recently interviewed Romano, who uses an object-biography approach in the book to trace the modern history of the portrait of Alexander, showing how its movements mirror the history of the creation of museums in Jerusalem.

Q. What drew you to do research on the marble head of Alexander the Great?

A. I began my interest in the sculpture from the site of Beth Shean in Israel in the early 2000s when I was writing a book on all of the Classical sculpture in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia. Included among the Penn Museum’s collection are colossal marble finger fragments that were found in the same place and at the same time as a marble portrait of Alexander the Great — in a cistern on top of the tel of Beth Shean, or ancient Nysa-Scythopolis. The fingers don’t belong to the Alexander statue, but they got me interested in what other sculpture fragments were found in the same context. I was able to go to Israel in the summer of 2016 to study the marble portrait of Alexander the Great, with the help of a grant from the Albright Institute for Archaeological Research in Jerusalem and the welcome support of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem where the Alexander head is located. More recently, I invited my colleague Kyle to write a chapter in the book on a Greek inscription that was found in the same cistern and that tells part of the earlier history of the site, in the 2nd century B.C.

Q. A Netflix docuseries, “Alexander: The Making of a God,” came out this year. Why are we so obsessed with Alexander the Great?

A. I have not seen the series. But as I write in the book: “Alexander the Great — the man, the myth, the hero, the conqueror, the ruler-turned-god, his accomplishments, and his images in various media — has held an enduring fascination since his death in 323 BCE. Alexander has been the subject of a myriad of ancient biographies; literary and artistic depictions of his legendary exploits in various languages and formats, including in stories of ‘The Alexander Romance,’ his transformation as Iskander in Persian miniature paintings, and as a Byzantine emperor in 14th century miniatures; in popular modern literature; and in a challenging mountain of modern scholarship. He has inspired a series of prints by Andy Warhol and a recent comparison with 21st century male hairstyles, and he has been used as a political pawn in the high-stakes politics of national identity in the Balkans.”

Q. How does your research help better understand the image and myths associated with Alexander?

A. In the vast scholarship devoted to Alexander the Great, it would seem there is little more to be said about him, yet this Roman marble portrait from Scythopolis has barely been considered as a part of the tapestry of Alexander’s historical legacy. The details about this portrait are fully published in this book for the first time and provide key information about an important ancient site — its monument landscape and cultic associations in the Roman period — and about Alexander as a mythical founder of Near Eastern cities and a role model for emperors in a vital period of Roman history. A reconstruction of the life, deeds, and physical appearance of Alexander of Great is hampered by the fact that his historical biographies were all written long after his death, with the oldest surviving account that of Diodorus (Bibliotheke 17), written 300 years after his death, and the most reliable account by Arrian (Anabasis) written during the second century CE, 500 years after Alexander’s lifetime. A kind of “romantic tapestry” about him was created, and mythologies of his life and deeds were embellished over the centuries.

Alexander became so popular in the Roman period in the East, especially in the second and third centuries CE, that cities of the Decapolis — in modern Israel, Jordan and Syria, including Scythopolis, or ancient Beth Shean, who prided themselves on their Greek heritage — could not resist claiming him as their founder. Various cities in other parts of the Roman Empire established ruler cults to the youthful hero-turned-god. At Beth Shean, it seems Alexander may have been worshipped alongside the main deity, Zeus, in the Roman temple on its acropolis, or the tel where this statue of which we only have the head) was set up.

The mythical life and deeds of Alexander were projected on the life of Jesus in early Christian theology, yet in the Late Roman/Early Byzantine period Alexander was regarded an anti-Christ who threatened Christian monotheistic beliefs. Thus, in the early Christian period in Scythopolis, his statue was mutilated and decapitated, and the demons that lived within the image of Alexander were exorcized. Though his memory lived on elsewhere in the Late Antique period, at Scythopolis Alexander was laid to rest in a watery cistern, to be brought back to “life” again with the discovery of this head in 1925 during the British Mandate. It was put on display in 20th century Palestine and eventually displayed in the IMJ as an ancient model in the modern state of Israel.

Q. Could you elaborate on your object-biography ap­proach in the study of the portrait of Alexander the Great?

A. It’s a methodology that arose from the field of anthropology and entails an examination of a work of art or cultural object in all aspects of its life cycle — its manufacturing technique, time and place, and its uses and interpretations throughout its history in changing sociocultural-political contexts, as well as in modern museum settings. Other art historians have used this approach to study “the lives and afterlives” of ancient sculpture but their interests have focused primarily on the use and history of specific works in their ancient past, for the most part neglecting their modern history, contemporary questions, and contexts. Presenting the full biography of ancient objects when it is possible to reconstruct the complete information, as is the case with this Alexander head, opens up interesting questions about uses, appropriation, and reception of works of art across the span of their “lives,” both in their ancient and post-ancient contexts.

So, in this book I discuss the entire “life” of this marble portrait of Alexander, from its manufacture and use, its discovery in 1925, and its modern history, including its transfers from the site of Beth Shean to the Palestine Museum of Antiquities in East Jerusalem, to the Palestine Archaeological Museum which became the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, then to the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, inaugurated in 1965, where the portrait head is today.

Father inspires alum Trujillo’s Oppenheimer exhibit

Even before the Oscar-winning film “Oppenheimer” hit theaters, University of Arizona School of Art alum Ernesto A. Trujillo created a striking collection of mixed-media prints that portrayed his father’s thoughts and fears of nuclear destruction as a defense industry engineer.

Ernesto A. Trujillo

Trujillo first presented the gallery online in December 2022, but the public can now see his solo exhibition, “The Oppenheimers’: One is Dad, Dimensions of Engineering,” through June 7, 2024, at Pima Community College’s Desert Vista Art Gallery, 5901 S Calle Santa Cruz. The show features 23 prints.

A special projects professional at Pima’s Desert Vista campus, Trujillo also teaches business classes as an adjunct instructor at the college.

“It’s been a unique experience working as an artist and having other careers,” said Trujillo, who also is an insurance agent and web designer and consultant in Tucson.

The School of Art recently interviewed Trujillo, who earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2004 and his Master of Fine Arts in 2010 — both in mixed media.

Q. How did you come up with the idea for your exhibit?

A. I started the concept for “The Oppenheimers” in 2020, before the pandemic hit. We were developing some WiFi stations for students at Desert Vista Campus who wanted to use our computer lab to continue their coursework. … With social distancing in full force, I needed to make some measurements based on the (room) plans. I remember I had my dad’s engineering Leroy measuring and calculation kits on my bookshelf. As I worked into the night, I thought about all the spoken and non-spoken projects this kit must have seen. 

I also remembered the last conversation my dad, Ernesto O. Trujillo, and I had regarding his time in mechanical engineering. He quoted, “Now I become Death, the destroyer of worlds,” from the Bhagavad Gita, which Robert Oppenheimer also used in his reflections to describe himself. This part of my dad’s life was an enigma because he chose not to speak of it too often. When he did share experiences, I listened. I was amazed at the ingenuity that he discovered and the innovative genius of his colleagues and team members. 

My dad suffered a lot throughout his life, knowing that his work was part of a large-scale destruction. Seeing him wrangle with his past while he was moving forward in another career was tough.

This sparked the question, “How would the visual representation of his unique stories look?” (Below: images from “The Oppenheimers’: One is Dad, Dimensions of Engineering”)

Q. Could you elaborate on that visual representation?

A. I started to write down my father’s stories from memory, as many as possible. I researched notes and memos; I had some pictures of him at work. Then, I spent time sketching, drawing, and making images. 

(The exhibit is partly influenced by) my series called “DDoS Chicano.” A DDoS attack is a Distributed Denial of Service attack, a cybercrime that prevents users from accessing online services and sites. It’s a subcategory of the more general denial-of-service (DoS) attack. The genre combines cyberpunk, technology, cognitive intelligence and Chicano art elements. I look at our humanistic touch points through the lens of computer information systems, trying to find the most efficient ways to connect to others.

I have been involved with information technology, cybersecurity, and cognitive intelligence or superintelligence for over twenty years. This genre fascinates me, and we live in extraordinary times. We have been taking leaps and bounds with processing capacities and learning exponentially. I’m curious if we will take technology down the path to help mankind improve our quality of life everywhere. 

In 2022, I did an online show with some test images and wanted to see an initial response. During the last six months of 2023, I finalized some of the work and was ready to show “The Oppenheimers” for 2024.

Q. What did you think of “Oppenheimer,” which won Best Picture and six other Oscars?

A. I had read several journals and stories about Robert Oppenheimer and other great minds of the time. I always wondered if a movie would be made about this incredible mind. Surprisingly, it came to fruition; I was stoked. I hope that Carl Sagan is next.

Director Christopher Nolan’s vision and all the splendid actors and actresses (conveyed) a sense of the inner turmoil that affected all the people involved in the atomic program. The moral and human dilemmas that challenged Oppenheimer and his team still exist.

Unfortunately, humans are attracted to a mindset of destruction. Imagine if we placed the same amount of innovative genius to create better circumstances for life. Our minds and souls would be free to do all that is possible for humankind. 

Ernesto O. Trujillo worked as an engineer for the defense industry. (Photo courtesy of Ernesto A. Trujillo)

Q. Do you see a lot of parallels with your exhibit and the film?

A. Look carefully at the signs, symbols and marks of innovative destruction in my exhibit. Their display calls us to remember that we can change our immediate and foreseeable future as a civilization to a positive outcome. Out of some horrible, we can create a new one that will be the standard for advanced citizenship. My father’s story is proof that it can be better.

Q. How much influence did your dad have on your life? 

Ernesto O. Trujillo’s military ID

A. My father passed when I was 18 (in 1999 at age 61). It was a tragic experience; I inherited his insurance and investment firm overnight. Thus, I started my career in business. (Trujillo is also a licensed agent for the Kino Insurance Agency). Before my dad passed, we would have some heated arguments about my future. I wanted to go into engineering as he did. However, he would not support the future. He wanted me to pursue business or something in the arts. Uniquely, I ended up doing both. 

Q. Speaking of which, how does your art education help in your roles at Pima College?

I teach a Business eCommerce Introduction course … focusing on marketing, cybersecurity threats and eCommerce business strategies, concepts in data analytics AI and algorithmic programming. The other course is Business Information and Intelligence.

It’s been great using all my visual communication skills to fortify these concepts in a visual format. I am developing a unique learning system that connects uniquely with each learner to simultaneously deliver visual communication that best meets that person’s learning style under universal communication traits for all languages and genres of learning. 

Q. Who’s inspired you, both at the School of Art and professionally?

A. One of my mentors was Alfred Quiroz, a School of Art emeritus professor. I love how his artwork “tells a story.” He also takes a natural multimedia approach to expressing and creating these stories. For Alfred, a 2D and 3D all-at-once approach is a way to solve a visual problem. You have an idea to convey; use everything around you. Andy Polk, another School of Art emeritus professor, influenced my technical awareness of how printmaking, specifically lithography, can be robust and delicate simultaneously. Looking at the work carefully, you can recognize all forms of printmaking in every image. 

Edgar Soto, vice president of the Desert Vista Campus and Pima College’s previous Arts and Humanities dean, also helped me understand the value of good communication and investing in our students and community. Others who’ve helped me are David Andres, director of the Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery on Pima’s West Campus, and Dana Roes, dean of the Arts Division, as well as the Desert Vista Gallery and Fine Arts program at Pima.

Without their assistance, “The Oppenheimers” would have remained on the storyboard.

Ernesto A. Trujillo describes some of his other work

Out of Time Out of Cognition: Plug Me In 2010. This was from my MFA Exhibit from 2010. This started the DDoS series. I was teaching, finishing school, and taking care of my mother, who eventually passed away in 2009 from non-Hotchkiss lymphoma. One day, I was so tired that I stood in the middle of the mirror, wondering if I could replace my battery like a machine. I forgot that I had replaced a 220 outlet for my appliance and left the broken plug in the bathroom vanity. I placed it right in front of my chest and snapped a picture. The text in the background was all my conversations with my mom that we had until she passed. Little bits of wisdom.

“DDos Chicano 2020” (Mixed Media Oil Painting): Here, I started integrating more copper electrical signal paths in the background and representing radiating energy. This Vick’s Vapo Rub bottle is a classic cure-all for any illness in Mexican American Culture. I was given this for every ailment I can think of. The cap accents my spine, which has been partially injuredfor most of my life. The skeletons are my mom and dad on each side, still looking out for me and protecting me. Although I was raised Catholic, these Virgin Mary statues have been around in every house I can imagine. I always wonder what company got the contract for this specific mold; they made some shekels. I am spiritual; funnily, I was trying to make the Virgin Mary special through a mass-produced consumer statement. My mom had her Ph.D. in Phenomenology and was a huge person in education. She also practiced Buddhism and was knowledgeable about different religions. This influenced me greatly, and I have a third eye open from an astrophysical self-awareness. 

“Chicano Steam Punk Story: Episode 1” (Mixed Media Digital Print 22” x 30” 2023): I see myself as this digital being that is supposed to flow through the cyber world, helping everyone access the right information while telling my unique life story. I’m including aspects of Mexican-American and Persian culture. 

2024 MFA Thesis Exhibition features 7 artists

Carrying on a tradition that began in 1970, seven graduate students from the School of Art will present their work in the 2024 MFA Thesis Exhibition in collaboration with the University of Arizona Museum of Art.

The exhibition, “Leaving to Arrive,” with installations in UAMA and in the school’s Joseph Gross Gallery, will run from April 15 to May 10. A public reception is scheduled for May 9 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. in the School of Art’s lobby and atrium.

Featured will be the work of graduating MFA students Jacqueline Arias, Nathan Cordova, Drew Grella, Hanan Khatoun, Tessa Laslo, Anita Maksimiuk and Dana Smith.

“The Sonoran Desert: A Model for Surviving the Sixth Extinction,” Dana Smith (in UAMA)
“The Sonoran Desert: A Model for Surviving the Sixth Extinction,” Dana Smith (in UAMA)
“A Lived Experience,” Jacqueline Arias (in UAMA)
“A Lived Experience,” Jacqueline Arias (in UAMA)
“A Lived Experience,” Jacqueline Arias (in UAMA)
“A Lived Experience,” Jacqueline Arias (in UAMA)
Entrance to Joseph Gross Gallery
Entrance to Joseph Gross Gallery
“Infinity Stone: American Prawda,” Anita Maksimiuk (in Gross)
“Infinity Stone: American Prawda,” Anita Maksimiuk (in Gross)
“Imprints,” Tessa Laslo (in Gross)
“Imprints,” Tessa Laslo (in Gross)
“No Trespassing | Passing | Trespassing,” Drew Grella (in UAMA)
“No Trespassing | Passing | Trespassing,” Drew Grella (in UAMA)
“Feeling a Future Coming,” Nate Cordova (in UAMA)
“Feeling a Future Coming,” Nate Cordova (in UAMA)
Part of “Feeling a Future Coming,” Nate Cordova (in UAMA)
Part of “Feeling a Future Coming,” Nate Cordova (in UAMA)
“Sheer” Hanan Khatoun (in Gross)
“Sheer” Hanan Khatoun (in Gross)
Prev Next

This annual MFA Thesis Exhibition, the culmination of the Master of Fine Arts Studio Degree, is presented during a graduate student’s final semester in the three-year degree program. During the last year of their coursework, graduates work closely with faculty to develop a body of original art to present to the public in lieu of a written thesis. The result offers visitors the opportunity to see new, cutting-edge art in a variety of mediums and styles.

“This is the next generation of artists who will be going out and impacting the discipline and thinking about what their next chapter looks like,” School of Art Director Colin Blakely said.

A look at each student’s installation and their artist’s statement:

Jacqueline Arias

  • Title: “A Lived Experience”
  • Gallery: UAMA
Jacqueline Arias

The monumental engineering feat of the Panama Canal came at great cost: 40,000 people were displaced, and their villages submerged forever. During the construction of the canal over twenty thousand men and women, brought from the West Indies, lost their lives. Decades after these tragedies, I found myself on the Atlantic side of the Isthmus, as an adoptee from Costa Rica, inhabiting foreign soil with a new identity and language. It was here where I forged a profound connection with the people and the culture of Panama.

This installation tells the story of these interconnected experiences. Utilizing rope and pulleys, I interrogate the ramifications of power structures on individual bodies and collective identities. The constructed knots reveal the ongoing legacy of imperialism. Rope and AI technologies are transformed from their roles as signifiers of power and control to find meaning and connection amid the tumultuous currents of displacement and cultural erasure. The individual strands and fibers of the dismantled rope reflect the complex paths carved by my lived experiences. My hands and body recode history both materially and digitally through embodied knowledge critiquing unethical adoption practices and labor exploitation in Panama.

“A Lived Experience” grapples with the trauma of colonial dehumanization and the yearning for reunion with one’s homeland and culture.

Nathan Cordova

  • Title: “Feeling a Future Coming”
  • Venue: UAMA
Nathan Cordova

My project considers the potential of friendship and offers a pointed critique of institutions and our consumption of their products. Friendship is slippery and difficult to maintain. There are social and cultural taboos that attempt to constrain our friendships. This is a social experiment that breaks through the isolation we all feel. What does it say about our present moment where amidst profound loneliness, we desire visceral connections with each other to problematize the limits of our individual bodies? By inviting participation, I’m asking myself and my friends to step out of this isolation and to encounter each other anew. I’m valuing critical connections over critical mass, applying force on strategic pressure points that form the boundaries of typical friendships. There is a momentary embodiment of liberation in this act, as I re-imagine what is possible.

I appropriate and re-contextualize collections of digital images of western domination gathered from the internet. This involves engaging with both the visible architecture like the skyscraper, and the supposedly invisible infrastructure, such as data centers and military drones. Anger and pleasure play an important role, offering a means of embodiment and exploration of the collection’s emotional and sensorial dimensions. Through a material intervention, I challenge notions of fixed identity and embrace the fluidity and multiplicity of human experience. This interruption utilizes an interdisciplinary process of layered blurring that transforms their symbolisms into something elemental; liquid and flame, semen and squirting, embodied presence etching sunlight and sifting blood.

Blurring the boundaries between past and present, self, and other, I invite viewers to engage these collections on a visceral level through the presence of their own reflections in black acrylic surfaces mediated by images layered with physical ejaculate, traces of our sequential self-pleasure. Remixed marketing videos from The University of Arizona and Raytheon (now rebranded as RTX Corporation) point to their mutually beneficial relationship built on endless cycles of debt and death.

All of this works together to disrupt conventional modes of perception. Challenging the rigidity of these images as repositories of meaning and enforcers of social order, “Feeling a Future Coming” reconfigures their signifiers to a point of emergence, where all futures become possible again. Reclaiming agency over our bodies and desires is a fundamental step toward liberation, contributing to a more empathetic and introspective society that questions rigid authority and embraces the beauty of uncertainty.

Drew Grella

  • Title: “No Trespassing | Passing | Trespassing”
  • Gallery: UAMA
Drew Grella

“The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot.”

Bruce Chatwin

I moved to Tucson during the Covid-19 pandemic when everything was shut down. I spent a lot of time roaming the desert and the town. Walking in the liminal space of the dry Rillito riverbed was especially surreal, strewn with trash, memorials, votive sculptures, and lost possessions. While my body moved through this new and unique place, my mind mapped my impressions of nature, waste, and the boundaries between public spaces and private property.

Deliberate walking is simple and beautiful. It is my method for collecting the imagery which emerges when I draw. Intuitive drawing is simple and beautiful. It is my method for revealing to me what I did not know, what I cannot put into words. In the studio, the walking body becomes the drawing body, continuing a contemplative stroll.

Hanan Khatoun

  • Title: “Sheer”
  • Gallery: Joesph Gross
Hanan Khatoun

My separation from culture, language, and family as a member of the Lebanese Diaspora has driven my desire to narrate the experience of what happens after the sensationalizing of war and displacement wears off. The struggle of forging and finding space for one’s identity both within and outside the structures of culture, religion, and family is a reality for those who are generations removed from another home. I am a second-generation immigrant from Lebanon, one of the smallest countries in the world, yet the diaspora population outside the country is larger than that within. Being removed from one place and living in another is common in an increasingly globalized and colonized society. In what ways do we create space for navigating these realities?

“Sheer” is a physical space representative of my search for cultural identity. I construct a space for navigating this self-conception using familial archives, trinkets, documents, photographs, and oral storytelling. These all hold unique language and memory, which in turn, become proof of experience. Woven together they create an identity which I embrace and push against. The act of weaving enables me to explore how disparate things often come together to make a chaotic but contained whole. The work is viewed only at a distance through a fabric cage, indicative of the structures and barriers against which I struggle to understand my multicultural identity.

Tessa Laslo

  • Title: “Imprints”
  • Gallery: Joseph Gross
Tessa Laslo

In my performative drawing and video works, I delve into the intricate web of personal trauma, investigating its impact on my body, relationships, and self-perception. The lingering effects of sexual assault has left me grappling with fragmented memories and physical scars while igniting a profound anger — an emotion that pervades my work and influences my ability to engage in intimate relationships.

The emotional and physical effects of this trauma are not portrayed as overwhelming obstacles in my work, but rather as integral components of an ongoing narrative. I revisit past abuse to illuminate the resilience and strength that can emerge from a process of artistic confrontation and self-discovery. Imprints combines cyanotype and soft pastels in large-scale drawings alongside a video installation using a twin-sized bed. I’ve opted for materials that lack any semblance of preciousness. The paper is weathered, beaten, and used; worn down by time and wear. Each crease and tear are reflections of the sense of violation that still affects my body and mind. The physicality of the paper, marked by violence, serves as a tangible manifestation of my emotions and experiences, grounding them in truth.

Anger, a powerful undercurrent in my artistic expression, stems not only from what I have experienced, but from the ongoing emotional and physical ramifications that are likely to persist throughout my life. It is a visceral response to the violation of my autonomy and the enduring consequences that ripple through my existence. This anger weaves itself into the fabric of my art, becoming both a driving force and an intense element that shape the narrative of my work.

Anita Maksimiuk

  • Title: “Infinity Stone: American Prawda”
  • Gallery: Joseph Gross
Anita Maksimiuk

As a printmaker, my work engages the symbology of migration, root-taking, rootlessness, and the urban environment. This is largely based on my experience as a first-generation American in Brooklyn, New York and beyond. Watching the city’s immigrant enclaves gentrify and lose their sense of sanctuary motivates me to document, preserve, and question the familiar through printmaking.

By creating cityscapes that deconstruct and reconfigure the iconic, I preserve both places and histories that fade along with the immigrant. As I move through this country, I keep in mind the glare of separation, the repairs I’ve made, and the fractures that remain.

“Infinity Stone: American Prawda” features primarily lithography, with screen printed elements. Historic mediums once prevalent in both fine art and advertising, these two processes challenge and contrast one another.

Methods of deletion, stencil and layer come together to form the printed image, all while honoring its ghost. These approaches allow me to subvert the traditional application of the lithography process, working the limestone surface until it becomes a source of light, color and texture. Starting with photographic images from my personal archive, I coax information out from the surface of the stone chemically. As the landscape is layered, removed and replaced, it begins to mimic the motions of an overdeveloped urban space.

I use the stone to create one-of-a-kind prints rather than producing editions. Using shifts in scale, photographic elements and a non-traditional approach to the process, I reclaim it as a tool of documentation, propaganda and mystery.

Pushing the lithograph beyond its traditional black and white, drawn image, the group of foldable posters presented here re-casts an iconic cityscape in an intimate light, worked into existence entirely by hand. Hung as banners, these images will travel, degrade, and return as I do.

Meant to be approached, the light and horizon that grounds these prints let the gaze linger while the viewer imagines, yearns, or simply remembers. This perspective alludes to an unattainable yet promising aspect of building a home, nationality and a claim to a city. The images take on an iconographic quality, representing a place that is constantly in motion. It is a horizon that is constructed over, bought, sold, and advertised as an object of desire. Here, it is reconstructed as a symbol of hope, haven, and history. It will tear but persist, both physically on paper and intangibly, within the child looking towards home.

Whether these prints become mementos or mirages, they ultimately take on the role of documents. I see my evolving work as a journey, a narrative and a documentary practice, bound within a fleeting medium.

Dana Smith

  • Title: “The Sonoran Desert: A Model for Surviving the Sixth Extinction”
  • Gallery: UAMA
Dana Smith

Since the Cambrian explosion over 500 million years ago, an astounding variety of exotic and resilient life forms have thrived and diversified throughout the world. Starting as primitive cells in a world slammed by catastrophic events, the life forms today in the rugged Sonoran Desert have developed extraordinary physical defenses key to their survival. This beautiful yet brutal desert inspired me to investigate the world of invertebrates and microorganisms, the survivors of multiple planetary catastrophes, whether gathered from a habitat in my backyard pond and examined under a microscope or encountered while roaming the desert.

Constructing oversized ceramic sculptures and drawings re-creates and interrogates the magnificent structures that these creatures have used as protection for survival. Bringing attention to these armored desert microorganisms and insects who have learned to adapt to extreme heat and long-term drought may teach us much as we enter the era of the Anthropocene. We can learn from their secrets as concern arises over our own adaptability.

Half Off Special

Half Off Special

Wilbur Dallas Fremont
Floral Arrangement

Floral Arrangement

Janessa Southerland
Tailgate Party

Tailgate Party

Roger Masterson
What Do You See?

What Do You See?

Utvista Galiante
I fell down some stairs

I fell down some stairs

Lyle Emmerson Jr.