Co-curated by Donna Troy Cleary and Tiffany Smith

October 21 - November 18, 2017


image credit: Tori Purcell, reliquias, archival pigment print, 2013 

Opening reception: Saturday, October 21, 6-8pm

Periphery Space is pleased to introduce New York based curators Donna Troy Cleary and Tiffany Smith.  

In Up-Root, nine artists explore, in various media, how they bridge gaps between their familial cultural heritages - celebrating, embracing and living within these identities in simultaneity with their American selves.

This is the second exhibition in a series in which guest curators are examining social, conceptually based work that focuses on cultural ambiguity, multiculturalism and what that identity might look like today.

America has been called the most culturally diverse country in the world. However, a map published by Harvard Institute for Economic Research, shows America somewhere in the middle, behind many Central African, Asian and South American nations. Becoming American is often accompanied by a process of assimilation, particularly for second-generation immigrants, when a need to feel connected in a new community causes some to abandon ancestral traditions. At a time of cultural unrest and spiritual disconnection in America, this exhibition presents artists who embody, perpetuate and reclaim the cultures, ceremonies and rituals of their ancestors as a strategy for wholeness.

This exhibition examines the work of first and second-generation American artists and their families. In his book, The Healing Wisdom of Africa, Malidoma Patrice Some states, “I am tempted to think that when the focus of everyday living displaces ritual in a given society, social decay begins to work from the inside out. The fading and disappearance of ritual in modern culture is... expressed in several ways: the weakening of links with the spirit world, and general alienation of people from themselves and others.” Malidoma Patrice Some believes the Western world’s infatuation with indigenous cultures stems from a longing for the spiritual connections their own ancestors once experienced.

Franz De Waal in, The Age of Empathy, discusses what it takes for an individual to uproot and move to another country. There is first a need, coupled with a sense of independence and a willingness to separate from family and all that is familiar. Those personality traits are passed down generationally, creating a culture of individualism, independence and self-reliance. This is the stuff of American legend and it has been perpetuated by a post-industrial ethos that rewards that mind-set.

Dr. Pauline Boss, in developing her theory of Ambiguous Loss, examined those who up-rooted from their country of origin.  She states that this process causes a deep sense of loss with no possibility of closure. She believes that a productive coping mechanism involves embracing the idea of paradox and simultaneity.  “You have one foot in the old and one foot in the new. And one can live that way. That may be the most honest way to do it.”  

Artists Dana Davenport, Simone Couto, Star Montana, Marilyn Narota, Stephanie Lindquist, Heesun Shin, Tori Purcell, Kathie Halfin and Tiffany Smith use video, sound, installation, sculpture, photography and performance to inhabit this space of simultaneity.