Wayne Adams, Doug Ashford, Brent Everett Dickinson, Michelle Mackey, Steve Prince, Kenneth Steinbach, Michelle Westmark Wingard
Equity Gallery | 245 Broome Street
Curated by Wayne Adams
July 12 - August 23, 2018
Equity Gallery, 245 Broome Street, New York, NY 10002
Opening Reception: Thursday, July 12th, 6 - 8 PM
Gallery Hours: Wednesday - Friday, 1 - 7 PM and Saturday, 12 - 6 PM and by appointment
Equity Gallery is pleased to present Peaceable Kingdom, a group exhibition organized by Wayne Adams, featuring the work of Wayne Adams, Doug Ashford, Brent Everett Dickinson, Michelle Mackey, Steve Prince, Kenneth Steinbach, and Michelle Westmark-Wingard. The seven artists within the exhibition are responding to Peaceable Kingdom, a series of over 100 paintings titled by the nineteenth century artist and Quaker minister, Edward Hicks. Where Hicks’ paintings each revolve around a singular composition and theme, the works in this exhibition offer a unique and contemporary interpretation of a “Peaceable Kingdom.”
Hicks’ series of paintings are based on the Biblical passage of Isaiah (11:6): “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them (NRSV).” Hicks utilized this prophecy to invoke a hopeful relationship among enemies. Feral carnivorous predators such as lions and leopards placidly lounge and mingle with domesticated livestock and children, sometimes even cuddling up next to them. In a few of the earlier works of the series, Hicks depicts two factions of bitter political enemies, indigenous Americans and European colonizers, happily partaking in civil discourse. However, despite the strong, otherworldly serenity imbued within the paintings, these pastoral, utopian visions were created during a time of great strife. The passage and painting serves as prescription for what Hicks sought for his beloved Quaker church in the 19th Century, which was itself imploding in the midst of painful internal divisions and conflict. Hicks repeatedly portrays an idyllic scene in the midst of the pain and chaos of his present reality in the hope that the art would serve as an idealistic guide and incentive to quell the ongoing schism, as well as to serve as a glimpse into the artist’s own desired vision for the future.
Much as in Hicks’ time, the population of the world is inundated with a staggering volume of tumultuous news involving political and cultural conflict.The wake of the worldwide turbulence provides the motivation to reconsider the need for a new “Peaceable Kingdom,” or, in other words, artworks that aim to fight injustice, heal festering political wounds, and forge a better tomorrow through the near spiritual power of the image itself. The artists within Peaceable Kingdom grapple with and examine the possibilities and limitations of the visual arts within a political sphere.
Much like Hicks’ series of paintings, the work included in the exhibition aim to overcome the current maelstrom of political unrest not through the typical fury and intensity associated with political/activist art, but through visions of positive and aspirational change. Aspects of this intent manifests itself in many forms, ranging from Doug Ashford’s photographic depictions of aesthetically pleasing abstract art interacting with several instances democratic rebellion in South Korea, to Michelle Westmark Wingard’s collaborative art project with her young daughters depicting a series of ladders meant to combat the divisive nature of President Trump’s proposed border wall, to Steve Prince’s litographs of young civil rights activist artistically rendered in a manner evocative of Northern Renaissance depictions of righteous mythical warriors and armor-clad holy knights.
Throughout the show, several questions are raised: Are there new images that can similarly point us out of political upheaval, violence, racial and gender discriminations, and toward some new heaven of calm and tranquility? Can heaven be present among us, while the systems of our culture rage against each other? Each artist in Peaceable Kingdom contends with these inquiries through making their own unique approaches, propositions, prophecies, and observations about the past, present, and future.
Peaceable Kingdom is on view at Equity Gallery through August 23, 2018.