“A Sense of Place” and “Frohawk Two Feathers - You Can Fall: The War of the Mourning Arrows (An Introduction to the Americas and a Requiem for Willem Ferdinand)” opened on Sept. 28 at the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art. Both exhibitions will be open until Dec. 22.
“A Sense of Place”
“A Sense of Place,” curated by museum director Tracy L. Adler, is a commentary by a diverse group of contemporary international artists upon the power of place to evoke both shared and personal associations. The works depict sites both real and imaged to explore how a particular time and place can leave its mark.
This exhibition points to broader issues that resonate in today’s global and increasingly virtual world. New technologies like Google Earth, social networking sites, and other media platforms have allowed for unprecedented access to communication and information, yet the two-dimensional material they offer cannot match the actual sensory experience of a place or confer any robust understanding of a culture.
Although the world may be more connected than ever, personal, cultural, and social experiences remain distinctive and color individual perceptions. The work in “A Sense of Place” highlights these differences, and the artists included reflect on the distinguishing characteristics that make the places where they have lived, worked, or passed through unique.
“Frohawk Two Feathers - You Can Fall”
“Frohawk Two Feathers - You Can Fall: The War of the Mourning Arrows (An Introduction to the Americas and a Requiem for Willem Ferdinand),” curated by Mary Birmingham, Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, features work by Los Angeles-based artist Frohawk Two Feathers. Since 2006, Two Feathers has chronicled the mythic global struggles between two imaginary superpowers—the kingdom of Holland and Zeeland, and the empire of Frengland (a unified nation of France, the United Kingdom, and Ireland).
The current installment takes place in the area that is today New York and New Jersey and introduces figures drawn from the Lenape/Delaware and Iroquois tribes, adding to Two Feathers’s previously established cast of characters. Having extensively researched the actual history and geography of the region, the artist created intricate ink-and-acrylic portraits of the main protagonists, along with narrative scenes, maps, flags of the warring nations, drums, and additional artifacts.
A mash-up of real and invented history, the art of Two Feathers reflects the past and the present—traditional European portraiture, Native American art, folk art, and contemporary urban culture—and presents a new perspective on colonialism, imperialism, and racism. Featured characters of varied ethnicities offer an alternative to the Eurocentric version of history. By highlighting the diversity of his protagonists and bringing together native and colonial histories, Two Feathers challenges us to consider the untold story of the colonization of the Americas, or to imagine it differently.
This exhibition was organized by the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey.