FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Project For Empty Space [at] Gateway Project Spaces is pleased to present With Liberty and (in)Justice For All?: An exploration of inequities, truths, and interpretations of American Justice. The exhibition will open at the Project For Empty Space gallery at 2 Gateway Center in Newark, NJ, on Wednesday, September 7th, from 6 - 8pm. The exhibition includes works by Dáreece J. Walker, Delano Dunn, Dominique Duroseau, Fletcher Williams III, Grace Graupe Pillard, Kambui Olujimi, Marvin Touré, Melissa Vanderberg, Sable Elyse Smith and more.
With Liberty and (in)Justice For All? is an exhibition that explores a multitude of complexities and interpretations about the American concept of ‘justice’. Justice is a term with several intertwined definitions: it may be used as the title of a judge or magistrate tasked with upholding the laws of his jurisdiction: it also refers to the behavior or philosophy of ‘acting just’ or ‘fair.’ This latter definition is hard to truly articulate because of the relativism of morality, perspective, and fairness. The word justice is, as indicated by its use as a title for a judge, is often conflated with the American legal and/or judicial system. Many would argue; however, that the American legal system is, in fact, an unjust system. The rebuttal of this idea is that the law reflects a middle ground of moral and unbiased judgement.
This exhibition strives to explore all of various facets of what ‘justice’ means within the context of American history. Heralded American artists have long explored the nuances, intricacies, and interpretations, of justice. In some instances, artists documented the justice in the legal context; other artists challenged the interchangeability of justice and the law; still others projected their own vision of justice- be it civil, social, criminal or otherwise. With Liberty and (in)Justice For All is inspired by works of three artists, Isamu Noguchi, Norman Lewis, and Ernest C. William, from the cannon of notable American artists.
Noguchi’s Death (Lynched Figure), 1934, reflects discontent with an epidemic of legalized lynching in the twentieth century. Lewis’s Evening Rendezvous, 1962, addresses a larger idea of a societal injustice in the way that black Americans were treated both the by the government and society. Lewis is often credited with being one of the only black Abstractionists, but unlike his peers, his work was highly political, and did address the inequities in America. Williams self published account of the Emmett Till murder trial, the Complete Photo Story of Till Murder Case, is a pseudo-documentarian take on the justice system, and/or its failings. Williams overarching legacy reaffirms the complex nature of ‘justice;’ the contention around his career following the revelation that he was an FBI informant inspires a discourse around the relationship between the law and genuine justice.
With Liberty and (in)Justice for All?, pulls together American contemporary artists whose work relates to the thematic prompt and/or inspirational artists for the exhibition. Each of these artists has pushed boundaries, and how have advanced the discourse around the topics of justice. Artists in the exhibition not only explore the diversity in modes of perspective, but also the vastness of issues and topics that have risen in the larger social/historical conversation.
About the Series: Visualizing OUR Americana
With Liberty and (in)Justice For All? is the third iteration of the Visualizing OUR Americana exhibition series. The series, which is divided into four different exhibitions, explores contemporary social issues through a critical visual lens. The exhibition does not include ‘artifacts,’ instead it presents contemporary work that explores the larger themes pertaining to the larger concept of American culture. Each exhibition is inspired by a ‘classic’ example of what we often associate with ‘Americana’.
The purpose of the series is not only to examine these issues, but also to highlight the positive aspects of diversity that directly correlate with each topic. The definition of ‘Americana’ is ‘the materials concerning or characteristic of America, its civilization, or it’s culture; broadly: things typical of America’ (Merriam Webster). These materials not only chronicle our collective history, but also shape our social, cultural, and visual future. In exploring the larger idea of a catchall term as Americana, one must analyze what comprises our American social landscape. America is a country built on the backbone of cross-cultural collaborations. Our foundation is not based on a singular or homogenous narrative; instead, it is a culmination of many voices, histories, and contributions.