This weekend, I installed a solo show at Alma College located here in Michigan. Titled ‘Preoccupied’, the two part exhibition includes a social practice-based installation that asks gallery goers to create prostest placards, as well as exhibits my series of Louisville Slugger relief prints evoking baseball and its relationship to immigration and the use of Indigenous people as mascots for sports.
Although a small show, happening alongside Alma College’s Alumni exhibition, I am excited about the show because of the college’s location in a rural setting, as well as it being in the town where I was born. Since rural North America is frequently seen as a cultural and political backwater (an idea I constantly work against), the show offers students and community-members the opportunity to engage with radical history and its context in the present situation. Calling the work ‘Preoccupied’, it is likewise inculcated by my own daily preoccupations (work, family, procrastination, etc.), not to mention the ongoing occupation of Indigenous lands by settler-colonists and their descendents (see Ernesto Yarena’s poster for more on this topic).
According to the gallery’s wall text:
‘For this site-specific artwork created specifically for Flora Kirsch Beck Gallery and Alma College, artist Dylan Miner challenges the audience to engage in the current ongoing activist movement known as ‘Occupy Wall Street.’ Regardless of one’s political and personal perspective on this event, Miner asks that we nonetheless begin to better understand this event within the matrix of local and global events. Evoking a long history of grass roots activism, primarily working-class and Indigenous struggles, Miner creates a space in the gallery that invites the audience to read from his personal library and learn from his prints. With this material, Miner asks that the audience participate in this artwork by creating placards that speak to their own fears and desires. According on one placard, Miner invites us to ‘speak up now’.
As college students, what are your desires in this climate of growing economic uncertainty? Do the ideas of previous social movements have resonance with you and your generation? Once created, placards may be left in the gallery or used to voice one’s opinion on campus.’
Let me know what you think…
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF MEGAN MCCULLEN (2011)