'Posing the Question' at Heights Arts

Running Series #3, by Liz Maugans.

The topics of racial equality and a fight for justice dominated headlines in 2020. The issues have forced many to decide where they stand--whether they choose to stand in unity, agree to disagree, or just disagree. In the latest Heights Arts exhibition, Posing the Question, artists tackle these topics and our nation's response to them.

Featured artists are Kenneth Bernstein, Matthew Deibel, Mona Gazala, Kenn Hetzel, Scott Kraynak, Liz Maugans, and Omid Tavakoli, with an accompanying spotlight show by Helen Liggett. Their work features photography and paintings that reflect systematic racism, and manipulated photos taken during social justice protests in 2020.

Maugans’ paintings recall a time of self-reflection in 2020, when she enrolled in a social-justice class and started daily morning runs to meditate on what the classes taught her.

“On these runs, I wonder how things can be fixed, what those new ideas and structures can look like, so they are equal and fair and socially just,” Maugans said. “It is hard to find an hour that is hopeful, but this temporary escapism and affirmation of sweating the toxins and stress from my body allows me to face the day ahead with this very simple vision of equality and love.”

In Tavakoli’s Sea of Cops, the artist multiplies figures of state troopers in full SWAT gear to fill half of a canvas. He said the image is intended to evoke current concerns about over-policing.

“From a distance, the work looks like a black blob of ink; then, as the viewer gets closer, they start to see markings. As they investigate further, they see the bigger picture, much like all the issues that have made 2020 such a monumental year,” Tavakoli explained.

The adjacent Spotlight Gallery features work by artist Helen Liggett, whose photographs depict women she has known for years as they gather for clay-making classes.

Liggett considers her spotlight show to be a complement to Posing the Question. In contrast to some of the direct political statements in the main exhibition, these pieces, showing artists at work making things of clay, present the idea of stillness as an answer.

“They worked in an open space with layers of clay below and floating, flowing, rippling conversation above, fashioning worlds based firmly in experience and in the clay,” said Liggett. “The hands of potters have an intimate relationship with their materials. These hands and their work are such familiars that at some point the differences between them begin to blur. Photography reveals this process, announcing truths both humble and profound.”

Posing the Question opens Jan. 22 and will run through March 14. Originally scheduled for summer of 2020, the show was pushed back, to enable the public to view it in person. 

The Heights Arts gallery is at 2175 Lee Road. Visit www,heightsarts.org for hours and addiational information.

Megan Gallagher

Megan Gallagher is the new Heights Arts marketing coordinator.

Read More on A & E News
Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 10:23 AM, 12.29.2020