What’s in a name? Is it a title, or a description, or a slur? A lighthearted alias? A branded pseudonym? A name, applied perfectly, expresses the true nature of the being. So, real and thorough understanding is necessary in order to aptly name someone or something. Determining one’s own true name comes only after exploration and development of honest self-knowledge. In history and folklore, this morsel of information can even grant someone power over another. We also see iterations of this in our current wider culture.
In the context of this exhibit, name represents every word or phrase ever assigned to a person to describe their existence. Name represents every attribute that became a classification from someone else mouth. Name represents every ugly thing you have been called and every kind word that shaped your personality.
Go placidly amid the noise an the haste,
and remember what pace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story
Take ownership of this power and determine your name for yourself. Be bold in your identity and trust your intuition. Know yourself truly and listen to others names earnestly. Name your friends. Name your enemies. Name your weakness. Name your strength. Make your name, so no one else needs to.
University of Missouri student Danniele Liles has curated an exhibit in Suite B to further examine this concept. By Any Other Name is the culminating project of her time as an intern with Sager Braudis Gallery, and is on display through the month of May, Saturdays 11-6 and by appointment. This exhibit showcases work by six different artists, each approaching self awareness in a unique way.
Argentinian artist Sofia Bonati illustrates strong female subjects suggestive of her own personal sense of narrative. Her work features soft but confident figure rendering combined with whimsically patterned backgrounds. Utilizing graphite, ink, gouache and other two-dimensional media, she combines assured portraiture and surrealist elements to create stunning pieces with incredible detail.
Emily Burns shares a similar subtle realism captured with graphite. She draws on nostalgia and pop culture as metaphors for the predisposition of civilization to repress and ignore difficult emotions. Her pieces blur reality and fantasy, mirroring the the way our cultural belief systems encourage us to mask unrest and imperfection in our lives.
Regarding this representation of society and self, American printmaker/painter/metalsmith Amanda Outcalt uses her intaglio process to explore the interplay between identity and community. Her prints embody personal struggle and growth, combining the everyday and out of the ordinary. Her unique use of plate shape in the intaglio process allows her to reconsider the environment around the etching after printing, affording an opportunity to mix media and create extraordinarily singular works.
Terrance Purdy uses a strong perspective and subtle photography to discuss identity through the lens of inherent adversity. His images explore the archetypes and influences integral in shaping the identity of African Americans, juxtaposing disconnect and struggle with careful art direction and symbolic imagery. Purdy’s work discusses the unyeilding will of Black Americans to create and maintain culture in the face of constant erasure and inequality.
Utah-based artist Stephanie Clark uses embroidery techniques with drawing and fabric to create her compositions. Skylar, included in this exhibit, is a unique brand of mixed media for the painter, featuring not only embroidery but an ethereal graphite portrait. Clark uses embroidery to elicit nostalgia and domesticity in telling the story of her life.
Tobi C’s piece, as the biggest work in the exhibit, acts as a sort of focal point. As the only gender non-conforming artist in the exhibit, they offer a different but important variant on the depiction of the figure. The artist continues the fantastical element seen in Bonati and Burns with the snakes and the rendering of the skin, but they add a unique, dysmorphic element into the figure that isn’t seen in any of the other pieces. The artist uses oil and ink on paper to combine figure and snake, civilian and barbarian, commenting on human nature and its relative closeness to the brutality of the animal kingdom.
While diverse, the works in his exhibit all convey the control and care of the artist over their message, with each one of the artists boldly claiming (or reclaiming) a certain territory. By Any Other Name brings these works together to show the power of that sense of ownership.