Downstream opens with a fountain. Created by Luka Carter and placed at the entrance to the courtyard of the Athenaeum, the fountain announces our annual MFA exhibition, featuring nine students connected by their studies at the Lamar Dodd School of Art. The fountain, punctuated by a goofy guppy and a friendly alligator made from clay, gushes forth not with water, but instead Gatorade, a urine colored energy drink favored by athletes. It is a similar product featured in Mike Judge’s 2006 dystopian cult classic, Idiocracy. In that film, the energy drink is marketed as a healthy alternative for plants which inevitably leads to a world-wide food shortage. Not unlike Judge’s spoof on the end-of-the-world, the artists in this exhibition grapple with our contemporary condition. At times the work can appear playful, brightly colored, maybe even light. But look closer and each artist, in their own way, examines the fragile vicissitudes of living in America today. Themes that appear throughout the show include our current climate crisis, past trauma, stereotypes related to race, and late-stage capitalism.
The title suggests that these artists are moving with the flow or being carried with the current, towards the mouth of the river, where one might be diverted toward a new direction. Just as they have worked alongside one another for three tumultuous years, they will graduate and move on, continuing their practice while inventing entirely new landscapes. Artists in the exhibition include: Rosie Brock, Luka Carter, Casey Connelly, Victoria Dugger, Isys Hennigar, Matthew Hoban, Craig Howarth, Forrest Lawson, and Annie Simpson.
Downstream will be on view at the Athenaeum Gallery on 287 W Broad Street through May 14.
Image: Featured Image: Rosie Brock "River", 2019, archival Inkjet print, 12" x 12"