Ideas of place can range from a physical location or imagined setting, to a state of mind or a memory of an experience. Whether specific as in James Buttersworth’s Black Squall at Gibraltar, or literary as in Becky Suss’ Houseboat on Dull Lake in the Valley of K, visual representations of place invite reflections on identity, faith, and daily life. How do our surroundings affect the way we see ourselves? Are we defined by the land we inhabit? How do politics or religion shape our ideas of certain parts of the world?
Featuring a selection of collection favorites and new acquisitions, this exhibition examines the multiple meanings of place through diverse representations across time and region. Three new works by Egyptian-born artist Wael Shawky trace the influence of fantastical storytelling in the Arab world and include a drawing of the Meccan landscape morphing into gargantuan mythical creatures. Works by Gordon Parks, Ficre Ghebreyesus, and Melvin Edwards, among others, explore the interconnectedness between place and identity. The dialogue between contemporary and historical works in this gallery transcends mere thematic parallels to suggest a more nuanced approach to the concept of place.
Image: Wael Shawky,(Egyptian, b.1971), The Gulf Project Camp: Drawing #1, 2019, Graphite, ink, oil mixed media on cotton paper, The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at Rollins College, Gift of Barbara ’68 and Theodore ’68 Alfond. 2019.2.11. Image courtesy Wael Shawky