Over the last year—amid isolation, disruption to our routines and priorities, and a crisis of misinformation—it’s been more difficult than ever to stay tethered to what’s “real.” Balancing physical reality, virtual reality, and the unrealities unfolding on our screens and in our newspapers, we’ve found that we really live in separate worlds.
On the dark side, we live in a moment riddled with information silos, blatant disregard for fact, and rampant confirmation bias—where even events of the “real world” have required suspension of disbelief. On the bright side, we could all benefit from a healthy dose of escapism, an injection of magic into our locked down lives, and ideations of a better future.
This issue of Southwest Contemporary, “Flights of Fancy,” presents art and artists whose work touches on a range of these concerns: from Laura Hyunjhee Kim‘s riffs on the lexicons of self-care and social media to Joanna Keane Lopez and Helen Levine‘s adobe-building practice rooted in the earth, to Friends of the Orphan Signs‘s disembodied missives and Christian Cruz‘s work within the intangible ecosystem of performance art.
From the concepts raised at the outset, a range of layered themes and concerns surfaced while we worked on bringing this issue together. The mind-numbing, time-killing “social media scroll” raises its ugly head more than once in these pages, as do concerns around mass media, belief systems colliding, and a pervading interest in the diverse contexts of our upbringings and how they shape our perspectives. Throughout this issue, our own visions of reality are called into question as we are prompted to consider the slippage between direct experience, memory, visual representation, and artifice. That said, you will come across flights of fancy of a more delightful nature as well—a testament to art’s enduring power to act as salve and comic relief.
If you enjoy this issue, please consider joining the SWC Membership program. While our content is always free to read at southwestcontemporary.com, members receive a print or digital magazine subscription along with other perks like artist-designed merch, free or discounted event tickets, and more to come. If you’ve already joined us, thank you! Your membership directly supports our efforts to champion art and artists across the Southwest.
Thank you for reading,
publisher + editor