Two Cultures, One Family, a group exhibition curated by Dr. Erika Abad at the Marjorie Barrick Museum in Las Vegas, constitutes a cross-cultural call and response.
Two Cultures, One Family: Building Family, Finding Home
August 30, 2022–January 28, 2023
Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, Las Vegas
Often in recollection, we find the facility of self. Resting My Eyes (2021), a painting of her sleeping grandfather at a family function by Q’Shaundra James becomes a window into patrilineal intimacy: “I had forgotten about those moments. As I painted, I could recall how his hair felt like feathers sweeping between my fingers.”
Devoted avenues into identity are on display in Two Cultures, One Family: Building Family, Finding Home, a group exhibition curated by Dr. Erika Abad, hosted by the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, and supported by the Weaving Our Cultures Arts Festival.
Dr. Abad presents us with an ethnographic cultural dialectic centering around family, identity, and gender. To break the exhibition down is to make an annotation of a cross-cultural call and response, each work interpolating with the rest at acute and dazzling angles. For instance, James’s Resting my Eyes knots gently with Abayomi Brownfield’s Acts of Unearthing (2021) and The Water Carries Us (2021), triple depictions of Black life in its most tender, unseen aspects.
Matrilineal legacy is key to this exhibition’s pedagogy. Upon entry on either side of the exhibition space, we are presented with photos of the curator’s mother and grandmother posing with their daughters. This carries into works like Earth Tattoo #1 (2021) by Gabriela Muñoz whose grounding depiction of three generations of women ripples with stunning symbolism. We find these ties again in three textile works by sisters Las Hermanas Iglesias and their mother, Bodhild, pieces physically knit together by family. Justin Favela’s Cubre-lavador (2018) sheds similar light on the grandmother-grandson relationship.
The undercurrent of personal and generational trauma and the process of healing through creative practice serves as an equally relevant connector. Lyssa Park’s Art Will Be A Good Hobby To Have When Your Kids Are At School (Snake Skin Dress) (2021) plays sly counter note. With Fawn Douglas’s powerful Genocide (2020) we are confronted by America’s painful reproductive legacy. Extraordinary Pregnancies (2010) by Chris E. Vargas takes on anti-trans aggression, punctuated by Keeva Lough’s furious response to anti-trans legislation in Self-Portrait (Section 1557 Regulation) (2020). Two Cultures, One Family gazes unflinchingly at the entrails of culture, a kind of haruspicy to elucidate a kinder future.
The processes and practices this exhibition engages provide soft instruction on progress that has and can be made. Portraits of fractured femininity like Jean Munson’s zine Secrets My Mom Keeps (2020) or Xochil Xitlalli’s Skinbyrd Coyolxāuhqui (2020) lead the audience to empowering works of presence and protest like Rose B. Simpson’s Transformance (2021). There are many more intricate overlaps in Two Cultures, One Family, both delicate and devastating. It’s best viewed from different angles on multiple occasions to fully savor its complex nuanced messages.
Two Cultures, One Family: Building Family, Finding Home is on view until January 28, 2023 at the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, at 4505 S Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas, Nevada.