Heights Arts' New Exhibition Explores the Uncertainty of Our Times

click to enlarge Heights Arts' New Exhibition Explores the Uncertainty of Our Times
At a time when our country’s social and political future is perhaps at its most uncertain, the latest group exhibition at Heights Arts is perfectly timed to explore and express our shared hopes and anxieties. Public Conscience Through Graphics and Illustration showcases local artists with a shared graphic influence and a mutual interest in contemporary socio-political issues.

Co-curated by local artists Leslye Arian and David King, Public Conscience Through Graphics and Illustration opens at Heights Arts with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. this Friday, March 3, and remains on view through Sunday, April 16. Public Conscience collects the work of local artists who utilize the communicative abilities of graphic art and illustration to express sometimes difficult ideas and concepts to their viewers.

“Illustration and graphic design has changed so much since its successful origins in the business and publishing industries,” Arian says. “Illustration and graphic works today use text and images to raise awareness and produce knowledge of socio-political, economic, racial and environmental issues and the emotions they invoke. Today more than ever people are feeling frustrated and angry, illustration and the use of graphic imagery is an important form of commentary which help us challenge the status quo.”

Public Conscience features work by emerging and established local artists, including Laura and Gary Dumm, Derek Hess, Brian Jasinski, Nancy Schwartz-Katz, Milan Kecman, Jake Kelly, George Kocar, Joe Lanzilotta, Angela Oster, Josh Usmani, Justin Michael Will, Sean Higgins and Nicholas Rezabek of the Bubble Process.

While some artists’ work, like the Dumms, Hess and Kelly, can be seen throughout town, Arian and King have also included several lesser known (but equally talented artists) as well. By including both established and emerging artists, the show offers a cross-section of the past, present and future of illustrative artwork in Northeast Ohio. However, these artists’ differences are as obvious as their similarities. The artists all come from diverse backgrounds and approach their subject matter from various perspectives – inevitably resulting in very different final outcomes.

The exhibition showcases the diverse aesthetic styles attributed this type of work. While the artists share may similar interests in subject matter, materials and process, they each have unique things to say, and go about expressing themselves in very different ways. With their work often reproduced in print and online, Heights Arts’ presentation offers viewers an opportunity to view the original artwork. In person, each artist’s deft skill is even more evident.

“People see the work of illustrators and graphic artists in print form but they don't see the original work,” King says. “Because of this disconnect, illustrators and graphic designers are frequently not viewed as artists. An opportunity to have these works in a gallery show allows the public to see them in a different light.”

Later in the month, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, Heights Arts hosts Ekphrastacy: Artists Talk + Poets Respond. During the event, many of the exhibition’s artists will participate in a gallery talk and invited poets will read new writings in response to the works on view in the exhibition.

(NOTE: The author of this article is participating in the exhibition)

(Heights Arts) 2175 Lee Rd., 216-371-3457, heightsarts.org

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