Art galleries and museums are now fully open in Chicago after a rather unprecedented year. Hilton Asmus Contemporary is grateful to have been open since last June. We wish to extend our thanks to the patrons who supported our business online and allowed us to flourish during the global lockdowns.
As always, we are open to visitors and enthusiasts looking to rejoin the art world at this time. We are pleased to announce the launch of an immersive virtual exhibition: HUMANITY.
HUMANITY is a digital exhibition headlined by some of the contemporary art world’s most provocative artists, including: Hugh Arnold, Christian Voigt, Nick Compton, Kostis Georgiou, Cristina Mittermeier, Paul Nicklen, Marco Nereo Rotelli, Lawrence Schiller, Blake Ward, Boky Hackel-Ward, Julian Wasser, Zack Whitford, David Yarrow and many others.
Within HUMANITY, time is collapsed and made fluid. Events of the past are mirrored in moments from the present. In this extremely divisive moment in history, the images in this exhibition demonstrate how connected the world actually is; regardless of decade or locale, global countries and citizens share more commonalities than dissimilarities. Viewers from all over will be able to identify with the images, as they depict universal themes, hardships, and experiences that portray an indomitable human spirit.
Select images of photography, sculpture, paintings, and works on paper exemplify the motifs of our present age as they parallel and draw similarities to the past. It is common to hear the words, "History repeats itself," and we look forward to proving this through the art of past and present.
We start at the beginning - with children - presenting their hopes and dreams. Emerging artist Nick Compton leads the exhibition with his photo of a little girl, perhaps on her first day in school, looking out toward a crowded mass of people. We cannot help but wonder what is in store for this child. Beside this young girl, we have a contemplative and beautiful image that shows a long stretch of train tracks, suggesting that children have miles and miles to go throughout their lifetimes. The next photo shows an elementary school in Kenya, where students play under a tree with a sign that sets the tone for their future: "Dream Big."
Now we traverse to more historic and sociological motifs. One overarching theme that HUMANITY touches upon is the issue of social justice and racial inequality. Julian Wasser’s 1965 portrait of author James Baldwin highlights the echoes of the Civil Rights Movement throughout history, thematically tying it to the recent Black Lives Matter movement and riots. Additionally, Julian's Time Magazine photograph of looters during the LA Watt's riots parallels the protests last year that devastated many American cities, including our own neighborhood in Chicago that brought many businesses into a state of paralysis and destruction. We were grateful that our gallery was passed up during episodes of looting, but some of our neighbors were not so lucky.
On the global scene, Zack Whitford’s “Syrian Girl” exhibits the innocent visage of a young girl displaced from her home and forced to live in a refugee camp as a reminder of the never-ending strife in the Middle East and throughout the world.
Another of Whitford’s images, “Pedestrian Dissonance”, speaks to income disparity by depicting a scene of two well-to-do young women chatting while an unknown beggar is on his hands and knees behind them. This photo is a reminder that we can so often become numb and disconnected to the suffering of others.
Tom Stoddart’s “Berlin” captures a moment in history, with a woman triumphantly climbing the Berlin Wall with the aid of helping hands. This photograph depicts individuals celebrating the end of the Cold War, which had just been announced the night before. This photograph was taken in 1989; and yet, in 2021, there are still many walls that have yet to be taken down.
These are among the many themes that HUMANITY has dredged up and intends to explore to the fullest. This project was originally started in late 2020, inspired by the social detachment brought on by the pandemic. Therefore, the exhibition not only touches upon moments in history that highlight human strife, love, or even inhumanity, but also points out how human beings have affected this home that we call Earth. We seek to ask: what are we doing to our lands, our oceans, and the creatures that live here?
Paul Nicklen’s “Ice Waterfall” is a direct response to this question. It simultaneously presents us with the grandiose beauty of nature while also challenging us to face the consequences of what we have subjected our environment to.
Another important motif in HUMANITY is the idea of close association and community through everyday means. Marco Nereo Rotelli’s sculpture “Together” is a descriptor made tactile, reminding us of the human need for social interaction. In fact, the theme of this year's Venice Architecture Biennale, where Marco's sculpture will be presented, is "How Will We Live Together". This appears to be a ubiquitous theme in our global society.
Hugh Arnold’s “Thread” represents a literal association of human bodies into something gorgeous and transcendent, speaking to the beauty of collaboration and togetherness. In this same vein, Kostis Georgiou, the renowned Greek sculptor and painter, creates a mosaic of human bodies that forms a human heart.
HUMANITY is intended to serve as a means of establishing fellowship during a time in which we could not physically do so. Over time, however, the project has evolved into something greater, representing more than just the memories of what connectivity was before the pandemic. Instead, it is a glimpse into all possible moments in time: our past, present, and future. It is an exploration of what made us human before, what continues to make us human now, and what we’ll continuously do to make ourselves part of the evolution of humanity.
The digital exhibition can be accessed via a special online viewing room on the Hilton Asmus website, and is scheduled to be released on May 31st. Stay tuned....