Written by Tim Talley
Willimantic, Conn. - The Julian Akus Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University will present the art of Sheila Pree Bright, Dave Cole and Amin Swessi in the exhibition, "A Candid World: American Visions," from Aug. 26 through Oct. 7. Each artist incorporates imagery of the American flag into their work as a contemporary commentary on American culture.
A University Hour talk on the presentation will take place on Sept. 15 at 3 p.m. in Shafer Auditorium, followed by a reception in Akus Gallery from 4 to 7 p.m. As part of the Year of the Arts celebration at Eastern, organized jointly by the Departments of Performing Arts and Visual Arts, all Akus Gallery exhibitions for 2010-11 will celebrate American artists. The public is invited. Admission is free.
Bright's "Young Americans" is a series of large-format, chromogenic prints of people aged 18 to 25, each holding the American flag in some manner reflective of their sense of identity in the United States. Cole, who is known for his massive site-specific, knitted installations, carefully takes apart and reconstructs his American flag imagery, using wildly diverse media such as toy soldiers, flags, or bullet casings, literally piecing together elements to recreate the American flag to its regulation size and color.
COLE Flags of The World (Study _1 14 scale).JPGSwessi has created a "barcode flag" emblematic of American consumer culture. This design, which began as a graduate school project, has evolved into a mass-produced image sold through Urban Outfitters.
"This work is edgy and progressive in its commentary on American politics, consumerism, warfare, immigration and youth culture," says Akus Gallery director Elizabeth Peterson. "However, I was keenly aware in my selection of pieces that we have a balance between artistic interpretation and national pride. I endeavored to focus on this balance and the resulting tension to generate a positive dialogue on a highly charged topic--what it means to be an American citizen."
COLE American Flag (Toy Soldiers).JPG
Akus Gallery is honored to host a kiosk for Eastern's VETS Center during the run of this show, which will include information regarding the program Cell Phones for Soldiers; Warriors for Warriors bracelets available for purchase; and other information regarding services for veterans. All proceeds for sales of items at the VETS Center kiosk will go to the Eastern Veterans Scholarship Fund.
The Akus Gallery is located in the lower level of Shafer at the corner of Windham and Valley Streets in Willimantic. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 1 to 7 p.m. on Thursday and 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. For more information regarding this and other exhibitions at Akus Gallery, call (860) 465-4659 or visit on the web at easternct.edu/akusgallery.
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