Breaking the Walls of Bias:
Art from Survivors
April 16 – August 2, 2002
Hofstra Museum, Hofstra University, NY
Words from Guest Curator, Marcus Schubert:
Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.
Helen Keller (1880-1968)
Breaking the Walls of Bias: Art from Survivors is a testament to the inner strength of those who, in the face of devastating circumstances, trace a delicate path of self-affirmation as they investigate profound experiences that are uniquely their own. for the artists profiled in this exhibition and the membership of the Survivors Art Foundation, creativity offers a refuge,a therapeutic tool, and becomes a potent vehicle of expressive communication and healing.
The survival of a traumatic situation has lasting consequence on the mental and physical life of an individual. The effects of trauma are followed by periods of behavioral and/or physical adjustment to cope with a personal situation gone gravely askew. Culture provides numerous ways of recognizing and working through these fragile conditions. However, for many trauma victims the patent modifications of corrective surgery, physiotherapy, psychoanalysis and medication, if sought and available, form only parts of an infinitely complex long-term coping strategy.
Outside the institutional setting survivors must still make their way in life, but harbor a persistent form of knowledge others do not – the haunting recollection of horrific events, an inability to use limbs, or a fatal disease and its associated physiological and/or psychological disturbances. This dichotomy of self, possessing special information as distinct from the predictable events of daily life, forms a barrier that inherently isolates the individual and may result in profound inhibitions to both mental and physical recovery.
Survivors of trauma face not only their own tragic circumstances in ultimate isolation, but also meet a daily barrage of imposed limitations designed specifically to identify them as other than, or outside of what is considered normal. Issues concerning identity arise when individuals are diagnosed to help explain their condition. this necessary institutional process is further complicated by colloquial terminology – disabled, handicapped, challenged, impaired, hindered, crippled, retarded and so forth. The latter expressions are biases that attempt to preserve an inherent cultural imperative regarding illness or being different by drawing a separation from what is thought of as the healthy status quo. this social attitude sends a message designed to limit rather than encourage the critical healing processes taking place in the psyche of an individual.
Creative acts involve an intense personal commitment on many levels. Making art – a dubious sciences, where the rules are mostly revealed as one goes along – requires the development of a dedicated self-reliance and the rigorous construction of an imaginative and technical operating system. A creative individual learns to trust intuitive judgments, thereby generating a sense of value and conviction for decisions that are made in the dark, uncharted waters of imagination. Also the enterprise of creative production usually involves degrees of physical strength; for some, the simple act of moving a paintbrush can be a painful and daunting affair. To enter a world of creative investigation renews the relationship an individual has with his or her self and the precious resources within.
Empowerment and healing reside at the very core of an individuals being – a source of wisdom transcendent of all boundaries. In this private place, the creative person alone becomes mater, where normal is gauged by a vitality of spirit, the quest for truth, understanding, beauty and revelation. the creative process helps realign the self and its union with our world – a universe without limitation, behind the walls of bias.
My goal is simple. It is the complete understanding of the Universe.
Stephen Hawking (b. 1942)
This exhibition is dedicated to the relief of all suffering.
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