2017 Union Fellows Exhibition
curated by Jennifer Baker
Opening Reception: November 3, 6–9PM
On View: November 3 - December 16
What can working within new communities mean for an artist’s practice? The Union’s Fellowship program offers an experience for local artists that not only supports their individual creative processes, but also provides them with opportunities to engage with North Omaha residents in
mutually beneficial ways.
Fellows are selected annually through a jury process, and are provided studio spaces, mentorship, and professional development opportunities focused on socially engaged art practices. This multidisciplinary exhibition is the culmination of the 2017 Fellows’ 11-month residency, featuring participatory community-based textiles by
“Quilterpreneur” Celeste Butler, fashion design by Samone Davis, intersections of text and
visual art by Slowed Soul (Noah Sterba + Jeff Sedrel), recorded and live musical performance
by Edem Kegey, and light-based installation by Jamie Danielle Hardy.
This exhibition is curated by Jennifer Baker, Assistant Curator of H&R Block Artspace at the Kansas City Art Institute.
Join us for the following events throughout the exhibition:
November 4, 7pm
Sharing Space with Edem Soul Music
a musical performance by Edem Kegey
November 7 & 14, 7pm
My Fire: Community Quilting with Celeste Butler
January 12 – February 24
Wanda D. Ewing Gallery
The Wanda D. Ewing Gallery is dedicated to the Omaha artist and educator who passed away in 2013. Ewing’s work ranged from traditional print media to painting, sculpture, and fiber arts, and was influenced by folk-art aesthetics and the depiction—and lack thereof—of African-American women in popular culture and the canon of art history. Throughout her career, she represented the connections between autobiography, community, and history, often with a biting, comical edge.
Born and raised in Omaha and educated around the United States, both the artist and her work traveled around the globe: she felt strongly about the fact that where one has been in the past—literally and figuratively—affects how one proceeds in the future. This often led her to historical representations of women in popular and folk expressions, such as pin-ups, beauty advertisements, “Mammy” dolls, and “exotic” figurines, all of which promote sometimes powerful, sometimes problematic ideals of womanhood into which she often projected herself. In sometimes-humorous, sometimes-serious appropriations of works by white, male artists from Western art history she similarly, meaningfully recast the figures in ethnic and gendered configurations that require viewers to rethink the originals. In so doing, Ewing encouraged dialogue around questions of who is allowed to make, see, and be seen in visual culture, and whether the arts look like the communities we live in, challenging her audiences to believe in the transformative power of art to conjure images where people might be themselves wherever they can see themselves.