Word Up! is an exhibition co-curated by Sharon Louden that demonstrates the power of words, which can, depending on how they are applied, save, kill, be harmful or helpful, and in many cases, be extremely powerful. Word Up! offers a global range of voices exploring the ways in which text can offer commentary through diverse languages on current protests, vulnerability, the human condition and the state of the world today.
The artists whose works comprise the exhibition come from a variety of backgrounds and use assorted formats and media to champion marginalized groups, express their takes on pressing issues and explore the ideas most relevant to their lives. They employ, at various turns, sensitivity, compassion and empathy in many of the pieces exhibited, showing a wide range of tone in the way their messages are expressed. Artists include: Raheleh Filsoofi, Liana Finck, Karen Finley, Tia-Simone Gardner, Meg Hitchcock, Deborah Kass, David Krippendorff, Cary Leibowitz, Carl Pope, Zita Schüpferling, Allyson Strafella, Hrag Vartanian, Annie Vought, Michael Waugh and Steve West.
The artists in Word Up! cross the lines between activism, self-expression and social commentary, many of them managing multiple roles as they widely express their views. Liana Finck shows her writings and illustrations in The New Yorker and other publications. Raheleh Filsoofi combines ancient and contemporary media in her sculptures to address pressing sociopolitical issues and questions of culture and history. Deborah Kass expresses text in public sculpture as well as works in galleries and museums. Carl Pope’s agit-prop style Letterpress posters featured in this exhibition shed light on hidden histories, while Hrag Vartanian makes drawings and is a critic, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Hyperallergic, sharing his writing in both a publication and his journals.
At a time when divergent perspectives are often narrowly channeled into opposing viewpoints, Word Up! offers a refreshing take on the multiplicity of thought that makes our pluralistic society so strong in all its diversity.