ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio (March 13, 2014) – Amanda N. Rogers and Whitney L. Sage will be exhibiting their artwork at the Ohio University Eastern Art Gallery through March 27. A reception for the artists will be held on Thursday, March 27 from 6pm – 8pm. The exhibit, “aMending a City,” is centered around the history, successes, failures and hopes in the city of Detroit.
Sage, currently employed at OUE as a lecturer in art, views her work as a continuous reflection to the world around her, and more specifically to her upbringing in the motor city. “The city has a storied history of epic triumphs and unprecedented tragedy, leaving behind traces and remnants of it all on the buildings and people that remain,” said Sage. “Throughout my career I have continually depicted Detroit as subject matter, not only as a personal crusade for a place I love, but also as an opportunity for more universal dialog about tough histories and to take a critical look at the lenses through which we view each other.”
“Greetings from Detroit: Misery Index Series,” a group of hand-painted postcards, is the artist’s response to the media’s “miserable” depiction of her hometown. “It points out our reportage’s tendencies toward the shocking, the sublime, the fantastical, and the extreme and toward narratives that simplify the human condition down to stereotypes and labels,” she said. “The series aims to use biting sarcasm and humor to expose current culture of misinformation and the sensationalized stereotypes used to sell newspapers and increase Internet hits and leading to the suppression of entire communities.”
As a counterpoint, “Prayer Flags for Detroit” aims to provide a different point of view, focusing on the problems and dreams of Detroit through the eyes of the community itself. The homemade flags are modeled after Tibetan prayer flags, traditionally hung around homes, villages, and sacred sites and are believed to ward off evil spirits and bring luck to those touched by the winds that pass through the flags.
“Instead of using the traditional dyed cottons and mass woodblock printing, the flags are made out of the scraps of ordinary life and people, including clothing, doilies, handkerchiefs, napkins, tablecloths, pillowcases and curtains,” said Sage. “Images of Detroit’s triumphs, the dreams of Detroiters and most importantly, the toughest of Detroit’s struggles are hand-painted onto each fabric flag.”
According to Rogers, “The life of a city is like a well-loved quilt. The quilt is made up of many pieces that all work together to form a larger whole. As time wears at the quilt it remains beautiful, but if you look closely the pieces may become worn or full of holes. Eventually those pieces must be patched and mended, or replaced all together. The overall image may start to transform, as more and more pieces require tending over time.”
“Detroit has seen its fair share of beauty and hardship. Some pieces of the quilt have become icons of the city, while some people have worn huge holes in the fabric that have taken years and many hands to mend. Many creative, passionate people are contributing to the mending of Detroit in order to create a new vision for the city we call home.”
To celebrate this changing pattern, Rogers has focused on the people actively initiating Detroit’s transformation: artists, entrepreneurs, organizations, individuals, and events. “They are the quilters contributing to the new fabric of our city. As Detroit is a city of makers, I find passion in representing what I see through craft processes and the handmade, with materials such as lace, ceramic tiles, sewing, etc.”
Rogers, who is currently employed as a freelance artist and designer in the Detroit area, believes the motor city is a masterpiece in the making. “The empty lots and abandoned historic structures are an artist’s dream, filled with endless possibility and opportunity to restructure the pattern. The history, failures, successes, and hopes of Detroit have provided the foundation of this ever-evolving masterpiece, and the inspiration for my body of work.”
The Ohio University Eastern Art Gallery is located on the second floor of Shannon Hall and is open to the public 11am – 5pm Monday through Wednesday and 5pm – 8pm on Thursday. Admission is free.
For more information, please contact the Ohio University Eastern Campus at 740-695-1720.
PHOTOS: “Greetings from Detroit” by Whitney Sage; “Detroit, an Artist’s Land of Opportunity” by Amanda Rogers.