Art and Social Activism, August 1 – 25, 2012

Nicholas Cohn Art Projects is pleased to present Art and Social Activism, a group exhibition featuring an international roster of artists working in a range of media, from painting and sculpture to video and performance, connected by their focus on social issues of national and global concern.

In collaboration with chashama, Nicholas Cohn Art Projects will transform an industrial building in Long Island City into a venue for socially motivated visual art. Art and Social Activism will highlight issues of community development, identity, discrimination, and the environment.

Artist duo Eve Biddle and Joshua Frankel travel the U.S. creating large-scale mural projects that revitalize neglected, often low-income communities. For Art and Social Activism they will present prints and drawings based on these transformative projects. Boyce Cummings’s dynamic, multi-layered, drawings with images of broken fences, downed power cables, and skulls, call attention to our communities in decay.

Seema Nusrat of Pakistan and Parastou Forouhar of Iran look at issues of racial profiling and discrimination having themselves been subjected to this treatment at home and abroad. Nusrat’s current series of sculptures, Traversals, features deconstructed suitcases – shoulder straps, zippers, and wheels – that suggest implements of interrogation and torture. Forouhar’s collaged, digital prints, appear to be beautiful butterflies, however closer inspection reveals that the wings are composed of images of men and woman who were killed for their opposition to Iran’s tyrannical government and dumped into unmarked graves.

Video and performance artist Joshua Seidner, painter Jen P. Harris, and collaborative team Chris Robbins and Aaron Krach investigate issues of identity. Seidner’s video Meditation No. 2: Corpus has a group of young men training with military techniques from multiple countries, resulting in the formation of a global warrior. Harris continues to explore identity with a group of vibrant paintings created by a combination of Rorschach inkblots and early Renaissance tarot cards. Robbins and Krach’s sculpture installation No Island City references the wide range of goods found at discount stores in multiethnic communities.

Karrie Hovey, Lawrence Lek, Dana Levy and Ali Van present work that is motivated by environmental concerns. San Francisco based Hovey will present a major installation titled Build, which expresses concerns over urban sprawl. The work was developed during a residency at a recycling plant and is made of found objects. Continuing with the theme of urban development and architecture, Malaysian born artist, Lek, will present Inner Forms, a series of intertwined wood sculptures that reflect our relationship with the natural world. Israeli artist, Dana Levy, will present a video and series of new photographs of endangered animals for sale as collectibles at a Florida store, demonstrating our disruption of the ecosystem. Ali Van’s organic paintings and installation of collected objects remind us that we can not separate ourselves from nature and must continue to work toward coexistence.

Art and Social Activism investigates art’s relationship to activism, creating a live forum in which to discuss the visual arts in our current climate of grassroots action, demonstrations, and international protest movements—with the goal of promoting awareness, increased involvement, and change.