With an eye to the physical, social, and historical properties of their chosen media, these emerging and established artists portray the self in pieces—as fragments that may accumulate and amalgamate but never entirely cohere. Identity can be as fluid as a watercolor in which one color bleeds into another; as fractured as a collage composed of ripped strips of paper; as multilayered as a painting that has been built up lovingly and laboriously over the passage of time. It is through the physicality of medium that the works on view confront the myth of selfhood’s unchanging rigidity and turn instead to its fertile nebulousness—looking beyond mind over matter, toward matters of the mind.
A sweeping presentation of work concerning racial, gendered, sexual, and national identities, myselves will overtake all three of the gallery’s exhibition spaces. The show features pieces spanning a wide array of media: painting, collage, embroidery, drawing, sculpture, photography, and their variegated intersections. Viewers encounter the weavings of Erin M. Riley and Sophia Narrett, whose elaborate tapestries and embroideries examine the construction of the self on social media and the internet; the wax-infused paintings of Heidi Hahn, which grapple with the biographical realities of oft-idealized female bodies; and the slippery avatars of Emily Mae Smith, whose hyper-realistic paintings bring together and repurpose a deep lexicon of art history, framing the vast scale and range of human subjectivity. The exhibition also features the paintings of Salman Toor that consider the tensions between public and private identities of queer brown men; the performative work of rafa esparza, whose adobe panels serve as sites for brown and queer community-building; and the figurative assemblages of Chiffon Thomas, that interpret personal feelings of nostalgia, longing to belong and affirmations of self-identity. This materially diverse grouping provides insight into the many ways that medium and meaning can develop in tandem, as artists reflect upon selfhood’s unstable and ever-changing terrain. myselves brings what’s under the surface to the surface.