Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Journey: A National Juried Exhibition for Emerging Artists with Disabilities, Ages 16-25

Where: Ripley Center

When: through January 5, 2015

At long last, an opportunity to return to the Ripley!  I can't remember when they last had an exhibit in the International Gallery, and I don't see one scheduled any time soon.  It's a shame, really.  As much as the space itself is not terribly appealing, I've seen some great shows in there.  Oh well, I can only hope that 2015 provides me with a chance to return.

The show I saw earlier this week is set up in the main space, a sort of hallway that provides access to various lecture rooms, offices and other museums.  It's a bit of an odd area for a display, but it's better than the little corridor they've used for this show in the past.  For I wasn't just happy to be returning to the Ripley, I was also happy to be seeing this exhibit of works by young artists with disabilities.  This is the third, or maybe fourth, year I've seen this, and it's always full of interesting (well, sometimes weird) pieces.

The piece that caught my eye this year was "Never Stopping" by Gianna Paniagua.  Gianna is the recipient of a heart transplant, and the piece was meant to portray that major event in her life.  Her piece consists of paper cuttings put together into a collage; I can't imagine how much work that must take, to cut all that paper by hand.  She describes it as a form of meditation, and I can see how, once you had learned how to do the cutting, it could become meditative.  Her images include legs, bananas and hands in circular patterns, along with cutout paper, that has a flowing motion to it.  What I took from this piece was that life is a flow; we're always running, always reaching for something.

At what point, though, does this reaching and striving become too much?  At what point do we need to slow down, to turn inward, to think before acting?  Isn't that what art asks us to do?  To pause and examine what's in front of us; to get wisdom not only from the journey, but from the stops along the way?

Verdict: This show is worth a look every year.  You never know when today's "emerging artist" will become tomorrow's celebrated master.

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