As we round out a year of the coronavirus pandemic, gallupARTS presents a show of work that is reflective and contemplative. Still. Life. brings together 16 local artists working in a variety of media, from painting to beadwork to digital art, to explore ideas of stillness and solitude, to capture how the world and life has changed, and to honor the resilience of individuals, cultures and communities.
Still. Life. Opens Saturday, April 10 and runs through Saturday, May 1. The Virtual Show Opening will be live-streamed on the @gallupARTS and @ART123Gallery Facebook pages on Saturday, April 10 at 3pm.
Several artists, including Valencia Chapito, Beth Kuiper, Orin Nez, Alexis Callahan, Jason John and Matthew Bollinger are artistically documenting the not-so-everyday every day of pandemic life, from empty, cordoned off playgrounds to daily walks to new objects to enter our daily vernacular like masks and hand sanitizer to familiar items like a wallet, keys and Hot Cheetos that have taken on new significance in a time of quarantine. Yes, you read that right. Hot Cheetos. “During the lockdown, my gaze has been fixed on the beauty of the everyday. Things that I would not have ordinarily noticed have become my focus,” says Bollinger, whose presents an abstracted and enlarged Hot Cheeto for Still. Life.
Other artists are working figuratively to process the collective experience of the pandemic. Artist Scarlet Selleck sees the geode as the perfect metaphor for the time warp that has been past year: literally “set in stone” and paralyzed but also visually reminiscent of tree rings, signaling the inevitable passage of time. Shelia Nez’s “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries” beadwork piece is both a classical still life and also an emblem of 2020. Joshua Whitman and Padma Komaravolu both turn to nature photography to represent ideas of resilience and hope. As Whitman states, vegetation “will grow wherever it decides to grow.”
Artist Sage Addington takes a personal approach to the idea of resilience, making portraits of family elders using a tempera resist technique.
Nathan Nez, Virginia Primozic, Laura Moore and Dennis Dewa’s work finds the silver linings of an incredibly challenging experience. Nez presents a group of picture frames made using recycled materials, representing the “new normal” and the ways in which society has had to adapt. Primozic created an unexpectedly graceful and hopeful image out of paper: “The image of a plant growing in an outhouse exemplifies that a new thing, a good thing, even a beautiful thing can grow out of the sh*t—that there is Still. Life. even after COVID.” Dewa celebrates the A:shiwi traditions of farming and hunting which have been renewed during the pandemic. “This pandemic has shown that our connection to the past can help us onward into the future,” says Dewa.