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Exhibitions: Past

I Witness

Art in a Political Context

Works by Linda Bond, Tatana Kellner, and Lin Lisberger

March 9 – April 5, 2006

I Witness I Witness I Witness I Witness I Witness I Witness I Witness I Witness
If you shut your eyes to a frightening sight you will end up being frightened, but if you look at everything straight on, there is nothing to be afraid of.

If art mirrors the world around us and reflects disparate points of view, you can be sure that some of those perspectives will be in direct conflict with our own. Art made to prod or provoke its audience creates situations for us to consider the affiliations between art and culture and the circumstances under which an image is created. Although the manner has shifted, the relationship between art and politics has endured for hundreds of years.

Throughout the Middle Ages, art was closely bound to politics; the artist's role was to represent Christian themes that supported the interests of the church or the power of the wealthy. Few artists achieved personal fame and even the most celebrated found their own interests subsumed by those of their patrons. It was not until the late 18th century that artists first began to produce art motivated by their own political convictions. Works made by Jacques-Louis David and Francesco de Goya reflect the evolving roles of the artist in society. While David made works that idealized the French Revolution, Goya balanced precariously between his role as court painter and his more private works critical of the abuses of power and horrors of war in Spain during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Today many artists, curators, and critics argue that all art is political, that all art is agenda driven. But the relationship between art, politics, and culture is rich and complex and not easily categorized. Art that has questioned or supported a government's actions or ideologies, or provoked our assumptions about religious and secular dogma, must be reviewed in the context in which it was made. Just as a viewer's own experiences help shape content and meaning about the world around them, not all message-oriented art is the same.

The exhibition I WITNESS: Art in a Political Context brings together the works of Linda Bond, Tatana Kellner, and Lin Lisberger. The works on display reveal important aspects about artists who are compelled to confront harsh subject matter. The impulse to witness uncomfortable events does not require them to eschew aesthetical qualities in their works. Rather, their works draw us in and allow us to encounter situations that we might otherwise be afraid to contemplate..

Kathleen Hancock

The Artists

Linda Bond

Inspired by newspaper photographs of the war in Iraq, Linda Bonds' drawings juxtapose fragmented images of war and destruction with surfaces created using gunpowder and graphite. She says that "along with drawings of smoke clouds from smoldering oil fields and bombed cities, I am rendering human casualties – anonymous, veiled, alive, and lifeless." In these and other works, Bond applies drawing media with her fingertips, a process she describes "It is a quiet, intimate process – touching the handmade paper with each mark, handling the gunpowder and using it as a tool for contemplation and creation. The resulting images are delicate and subtle.

Tatana Kellner

The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Tatana Kellner, writes "My work pays visual homage to that unimaginable loss, and in a more general way investigates the layering of memory that occurs through daily examination of personal experience, family narratives, and cultural and historical artifacts." Kellner has been working with alternative photographic processes which allow her to move between the physical boundaries of two and three dimensional space. Photographs printed on three dimensional surfaces provide a "physical dimension to traditional photography – the media which visually records the third dimension on a two dimensional surface." More recently Kellner has returned to the immediacy of drawing to create works culled from the daily news headlines.

Lin Lisberger

Lin Lisberger's sculptures "reinforce shared vulnerabilities based on the frailty of mankind." She draws inspiration from a number of contemporary situations and events. Rather than look away from difficult imagery, Lisberger takes it on and asks us to acknowledge our responsibility to witness the cruelty that exists in the world. Through her series of pieces called Torture Preserved, she presents an unflinching examination of the recent Rwandan genocide and the memorials one community created in response to the killings. She writes "One such memorial depicts the victims bodies preserved in lime, many of them still shielding their faces and bodies ten years after their deaths. The memorial assaults the senses, but its power is astonishing."


Linda Bond received an MFA in painting from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a BFA from Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois. She is an Assistant Professor at Massachusetts College of Arts, Boston. Recent solo exhibitions include The Drawing Project Presents Linda Bond, Bernard Toale Gallery, Boston and Linda Bond: Paintings, Sue and Eugene Mercy, Jr. Gallery, Loomis Chafee School, Windsor, CT. Selected group exhibitions include A Nation Mourns & Artists Respond, Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA; Preview, Bakalar Gallery, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA, and Art Activism, Lecei Gallery, Concord, MA. She has received multiple grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Arlington Arts Council and Service Learning Grants from Massachusetts College of Art.

Tatana Kellner 's recent solo exhibitions include Recent Work, Ruth Muroff Kotler Gallery, Ulster Community College, Stone Ridge, NY and Assemblage and Ritual, Mid Career Retrospective, CEPA Gallery, Buffalo, NY. Selected group exhibitions include Fleeting Moments, Museum of Contemporary Art, Fort Collins, CO; Luminous Image, Creative Concepts, Beacon, NY and re/order, Houghton House Gallery, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY. She has received numerous residency grants including stays at Millay Colony, MacDowell Colony, The Banff Center for the Arts, and Yaddo. She has also been awarded grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts in the Individual Artist Fellowship category and recently received the Photographer's Fund Award from the Center for Photography in Woodstock, NY.

Lin Lisberger holds an MFA in sculpture from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and a BA in literature from the University of California at Santa Cruz. She is an instructor at the University of Southern Maine and teaches sculpture, drawing and 3D design courses. Recent solo exhibitions include Expressive Figures, 3 Fish Gallery, Portland, ME; Gaea Basket, Portland City Hall, Portland, ME, and Lin Lisberger Solo Exhibition, Lakes Gallery, Casco, ME. Selected group exhibitions include War Flowers: From Swords to Plowshares, Area Gallery, USM, Portland, ME and The Animate Earth, Hawk Ridge Farm, Pownal, ME, and Grant Jacks Memorial Exhibit, University of New England, Portland, ME. She was a Fulbright Scholar finalist in 2000.