Gallery Visio’s latest exhibition, “Pop Manifesto 2,” which opened February 23, is the successor to a previous show by the same name. The student-run gallery is in the Millennium Student Center at University of Missouri – St. Louis.
The exhibit is co-sponsored by the Made Monarchs, a “creative house” that sponsors events intended to “support, entertain, and empower our generation” according to the organization’s website www.mademonarchs.com.
While most of the exhibit focuses on race, overall the exhibit questions perceptions of humanity. Artists Kevin McCoy, Jermaine Clark, Skip Jones and Erica Brown achieve this message by incorporating visuals of pop culture into their work.
Walking into the exhibit, visitors are confronted by a pop political piece. The work consists of three separate drawings, each contained within a green frame. The two outer pictures are made up of an eagle wearing a swastika on its arm and an elk sporting the title “El Politico.” The eagle is supposed to represent Fascism while the swastika represents Nazism. The goal was to express the similarities between the two meanings by incorporating both.
In the room’s center is a sketch of the Morton’s Salt girl, holding an oil drum rather than a salt canister under her arm. The canister only leaks a couple drops of oil, which could represent the next generation’s high demand for oil or the rationing of that oil.
Artist Jermaine Clark played with expressionism in his piece “A Brave Refrain vs. Make Me Believe.” In acrylic on panel, he shed light on two different male shadows: a young man and an elderly man. The body language of the young man reveals his uncertainty, while the aged, bearded man exudes confidence despite having his hands tied behind his back. Based on the positioning of the two separate paintings, they may have represented the old man revisiting his past. The simplicity of the piece is why it should be praised.
Erica Brown is most innovative with two works, her abstract wooden puzzle made of screen print and salvaged wood, “The Unrealized Dream,” and her collage of magazine photos titled “Mind, Body, Soul.”
Brown’s collage centers on three different themes that apply to the African American woman: brain, heart and eye. In her brain collage, Brown focuses on the “Afro Woman” who is “still real” and has managed to maintain the “roots” of her heritage. In the heart collage, Brown focuses on the body image of the black woman from her breast, thighs and lips. While all three features are generally sexualized by the media, it seems like the artist uses these images to express power. The eye collage is used to represent disrespect for the black woman with word association, such as “dirty” and “explicit content.”
The most meaningful pieces may be Jermaine Clark’s combined works “Heart vs. Logic,” “True or False Face,” “Badge of Infamy,” “The Man Who Was,” and “Patience vs. Pride.” Clark’s five canvases circle the same theme and take up the entire right wall.
The works are a mixture of scattered billboard headlines and controversy. The two African American male subjects wear white clansmen hoods to protect their identities. One man is an athlete, while the other appears to be a criminal with his hands tied behind his back. Under their white hoods the men wear black hoods, which represent the executioner’s hood. The two subjects are unable to see out of their hoods because they also represent the hood of the war prisoner. This piece sees the black man as both victim and criminal, stating that disobedience (on both sides) has no true identity.
“Pop Manifesto 2” offers visitors a chance to interpret the pieces the way they see fit, which makes it an ideal exhibit to explore. It is open through March 22.
By Ashley Atkins, Features editor for The Current