“We the People”

WESTERN PROJECT | Werkärtz
927 S. Santa Fe Ave
December 10, 2016–January 21, 2017

View of “We the People,” 2016. From left: Friends With You, Seafoam, 2015; Stephen Neidich, Truckin, 2016; Julie Henson, The Triumphant Return, 2016; Andrea Marie Breiling, Together, 2016.

Usually a group show leaves one struggling for a narrative thread, but the humps, lumps, bumps, butts, dicks, and boobs that make up the work in “We the People” are right at home in the realm of plotless exhibitions. A benefit for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the show gathers work made during the recent election cycle: a period of political uncertainty, disturbing truths, and upheaval. The immediacy makes for a collection of very raw and honest work that portrays a commitment to making art for a worthy cause. Yet there is one common theme: exposing the vulnerable parts of bodies.

Works embedded with sexual innuendoes, such as a peeled and fingered orange in Stephanie Sarley’s video Untitled, 2016, and the smeared, spread thighs of Andrea Marie Breiling’s multimedia paintings Together and More (both 2016) neighbor sculptures in psychedelic palettes by Friends with You and Jen Stark. Hidden in the details of the former’s Seafoam, 2015, and the latter’s Drip Down, 2016, is a recurrence in the shape of a soft tower, sometimes erect, other times at half salute or pooling.

This demonstrable roar, an assertion of the bodies of the artists, provides comfort in troubling times, along with eye-opening poignancy and insight. Thus, the differences among the works here lend them a counterintuitive coherence. There is no pressure to assimilate; the contradictions exist side by side.

Meg Whiteford