Intriguing Art with Social Commentary at Art Miami

From reacting to a strict Mormon upbringing to blending popular culture with Hinduisim to considering colonization in Mexico, the group of artists showing at Lisa Sette Gallery’s Art Miami booth keep social concerns at the fore in their artworks. The booth includes a sculpture made from straight pins, bronze-cast Indian statuettes, and works on 19th-century paper, among others, displaying a dynamic selection of art equally striking visually and ideologically.

Angela Ellsworth’s “Plural Wife Project” is a result of her upbringing as a fourth-generation Mormon, and the great granddaughter of Lorenzo Snow, the fifth prophet, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and husband to nine wives. Her outspoken artworks stand in opposition to the Mormon teachings she was raised to believe, often commenting on non-heteronormative relationships in contemporary society. At Art Miami, Ellsworth shows one of her Seer Bonnet works, two bonnets connected by ribbons made from 39,804 pearl corsage pins. The initial charming quality of the  pearl encrusted bonnets is distorted upon closer viewing, which reveals the long sharp pins that render the objects deceptively dangerous.

Claudio Dicochea:Casta paintings are an 18th-century genre of Spanish American that illustrate the mixing of European and native Mexican races in colonial Mexico, often depicting a mother and father of different races and their resulting child. Claudio Dicochea creates contemporary castas that are hyperbolic and polemical in nature, using traditional compositions as his basis but substituting in his own characters whose faces often resemble famous politicians and celebrities. The cartoonish figures, mostly men, are in historical european or contemporary garb, covered in weaponry or DJ equipment, toting machine guns while working turntables with their multiple arms. The characters are surrounded by a chaotic background mixing of traditional European, pre-Hispanic Latin American, and contemporary street imagery in scenes of overt unrest.

Enrique Chagoya: Like Dicochea, Enrique Chagoya’s work is concerned with issues of colonization and the clash of European and Native cultures in Mexico. Having grown up alongside Aztec ruins and reading DC Comics, Chagoya makes prints, paintings, and drawings question heritage and culture in contemporary society. Ghostly Meditations (martyrs of the arts academy) is a critical look at the traditional art “academy”, combining 19th-century European imagery with Chagoya’s foreboding drawing of a skull inspired by traditional Mexican imagery. The skull covers an image of a man, threatening the dominance of the Western world.

Siri Devi Khandavilli: Indian artist Siri Devi Khandavilli creates cast bronze sculptures that combine Hindu myths and traditions with contemporary popular culture. Her impeccably-crafted sculptures, which are made at a traditional Indian village foundry, resemble historical Hindu statuettes of female deities. Spanning cultures, geographies, and generations, the works often depict glorified poodles in high heels or voluptuous goddesses with poodle heads, toting purses. While paying homage to Hindu traditions, Khandavilli imbues underlying, skeptical commentary on the show poodle, glamor queen goddesses of the present. The artist will be speaking in the Collecting Women Artistssymposiumon December 5th at Art Miami.

Damion Berger: Photographic artist Damion Berger explores cultural ritual in his work, through the use of experimental techniques. In his “Black Powder” series he uses negatives of pictures of firework displays, offering an abstracted take on traditionally celebratory events associated with victories and holidays. Using long exposures to track the trajectory of the fireworks, the works poignantly capture the explosions and beams of light in black.

On view at Lisa Sette Gallery, Art Miami 2013, Dec. 4th-8th.

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