April 8, 2021 through April 12, 2021
Wexler Gallery at EXPO CHGO ONLINE
April 8-12, 2021
Wexler Gallery is proud to present Representation, an exhibition featuring Roberto Lugo and Tim Rollins & Kids of Survival (K.O.S.), and Mami Kato. The artwork in the exhibition, rooted in collaboration, inclusion, and education, offers a deeply personal vision of how the artists see themselves, who they relate to, what they aspire to, and the politics of portrayal in art. Pervading the works of Tim Rollins & K.O.S., Roberto Lugo, and Mami Kato is the underlying responsibility of the artists to represent the voices of the underrepresented.
Pioneers in fusing education with art practice Tim Rollins & K.O.S. developed their collaborative approach to making art in the early 1980’s in the Bronx in New York City. Frustrated by the school system, artist and educator Tim Rollins, started an art program after school for his most talented students. They developed a way of working that combined reading and analysis with drawing and painting. They made art that related to the text through the lens of their own experiences as young people of color growing up in the South Bronx.
In making the iconic Amerika series, Rollins prompted K.O.S.: “…you all have your own taste and you have different voices. If you could be a golden instrument, if you could play a song of your freedom and dignity and your future and everything you feel about Amerika and this country, what would your horn look like?” The horns imagined by K.O.S. were inspired by diverse sources they encountered in their lives — pop culture, fine art textbooks, music, the streets around them. The overlapping and combining of the individual horns in the larger works evoke another of Tim Rollins and K.O.S.’s inspirations, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, in which the narrator concludes that “America is woven of many strands,” that “our fate is to become one, and yet many.”
Known for his graffiti-inspired porcelain sculptures, artist Roberto Lugo’s work centers around the notion of representation. Specifically, representing the culture and struggles faced within Black and Latinx communities through the lens of craft history. Lugo chooses to depict Civil Rights leaders, hip hop artists, musicians, writers, and cultural figures representative of Black and Latinx culture. Their likeness is elevated to a space that was historically inaccessible to people of color. Drawing from iconic forms, such as an urn or a teapot, Lugo works with the existing associations inherent to a form, while adding his own stylized imagery and content. The result is a complex, contradictory body of work that embodies both poverty and resilience as well as opulence and wealth. He combines status symbols from European society and urban America to create works of art that cross boundaries and weave together seemingly disparate cultures into one multifaceted vision.
Mami Kato’s practice is rooted in place, material and labor. Her sculptures are meticulously crafted by hand. Rice straw, her medium of choice, was chosen for its association with northern Japan, where Kato was born. As a byproduct of the agricultural industry, it was historically repurposed as roofing, garments, fertilizer, and for other practical solutions. Kato uses this material as a way to honor rice as a life-sustaining resource and the culture that was built around its cultivation.
Kato currently lives in Philadelphia, working in a repurposed industrial building in a neighborhood that was once called “the Workshop of the World”. It is an appropriate setting for her labor-intensive process that emphasizes handiwork and daily ritual. Her sculptures can sometimes take years to make, a fact that adds significantly to how the piece is perceived. Her sculptures arise from her biography, containing the influence of where she has been, and where she is. It is combined into something unique that transcends specificity and speaks to universal truths.
Mami Kato’s work is featured as part of EXPO CHGO ONLINE’s Environmental program showcasing artwork that contributes to a broad rethinking of the environment, as an extension of their January 2021 symposium Alternate Assembly: Environmental Impact in the Era of Pandemic.
Leading galleries are invited to participate in EXPO CHGO ONLINE | April 8 – 12, 2021, a curated digital exposition of contemporary and modern art and culture showcasing focused presentations of current exhibitions and artists within their programs, presented in collaboration with Hook.