Bhile it may be a blatantly euphemistic understatement,
it’s safe to say that the United States of America, edition 2017, finds itself in “interesting times.”
And, as of this writing, nowhere is that more evident than in the interconnected arenas of immigration, migration, and refugee resettlement.
So, call it timeliness, call it zeitgeist, or call it prescience on the part of Conduit Gallery and British artist Sarah Ball,
GIVE ME YOUR TIRED but Ball’s just-opened Kindred is a spellbinding, don’t-miss exhibition that speaks volumes about
the American experience, actual and mythical, past, present, and possibly future.
Featuring 30+ meticulously painted immigrant portraits, as well as a series of drawings, it’s a show for the season; it runs from April 1 through May 13.
Sarah Ball, born in 1965 in South Yorkshire, now living in Cornwall, observes trenchantly, “‘Immigrant’ is a word that has always been loaded with a meaning and weight beyond the dry dictionary definition.
The word is a weapon, a political pawn, to the point that one might forget that we are dealing with human beings.”
The artist says she’s continually fascinated with themes of identity, and typically works from historical photographs; her previous solo show at Conduit, 2015’s Accused: Part III, was comprised of paintings extrapolated from police mugshots.
But this time out, Ball’s focus is on the faces of immigrants, sourced from photographs of new arrivals at Ellis Island in the early 20th century.
The photos were shot by amateur photographer Augustus F. Sherman, a registry clerk at Ellis Island from 1892 to 1925.
Ball’s paintings, most of them a diminutive 9.5 x 7 inches, are haunting realizations of her subjects addressing the viewer head-on with dignity, equanimity, and a shy curiosity.
“I’m always looking around for photographs,” the artist says, “and when I came across these it just felt so relevant, with the words and language
GIVE ME YOUR TIRED and rhetoric that are going around at the moment. It felt like it was just poignant to what’s happening now.”
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