Opening Reception: On June 24, 2023, 3-6 pm
Known for raiding 19th-century American landscape painting and colonial portraiture to convey ironic social messages about manifest destiny, democracy, and society’s deteriorating ways of communicating, Shawn Huckins dives deeper into how we construct individual and collective American identity with a show called Pareidolia. Taken literally, pareidolia refers to the human eye’s ability to detect meaningful shapes and forms in seemingly random visual arrangements – think of associations and subjects that surface when staring at a Rorschach test or a cloud in the sky. In Pareidolia, Shawn leaves much to the viewer’s imagination. His meticulous recreations of historic works contain brightly colored and patterned fabrics that take center stage by conspicuously concealing the sitters’ faces.
The artist explains, “Our relationship with cloth is visceral and primal — we are swaddled in it at birth for comfort. Who of us, in times of turmoil, has not pulled the covers over our head or wrapped ourselves in a loved one’s shirt, sweater, or scarf? To be covered is to be comforted, protected, and hidden. It masks vulnerability, culpability, and so much more.”
Pareidolia is a continuation of Shawn’s 2022 Dirty Laundry series. Enveloping his historic figures in the “dirty laundry” of contemporary life, Shawn’s astute and immaculate work both conceals and reveals. How does attire, past and present, convey our values and aspirations? How might it be performative or deceptive? Considered public or private? Shawn’s paintings ask us to consider what we are hiding from ourselves and others. What would it mean for the parts we conceal to be exposed? How might others react to our dirty laundry?