‘Tradition Interrupted’ exhibit to be presented at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum

The Marshall M. Fredericks Museum of Sculpture at Saginaw Valley State University presents a new exhibit, “Tradition Interrupted,” opening to the public Saturday, February 19.

“Tradition Interrupted,” curated by the Bedford Gallery at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, California, explores how artists weave contemporary ideas with traditional arts and crafts to create hybrid images and objects that elicit reflection and which caught the attention of the world.

The 12 artists of this show and their traditions come from the four corners of the globe: Faig Ahmed (Azerbaijan), Dinh Q. Lê (Vietnam), Serge Attukwei Clottey (Ghana), Jaydan Moore (Virginia), Camille Eskell (New York), Ronna Neuenschwander (Oregon), Mounir Fatmi (France and Morocco), Ramekon O’Arwisters (California), Ana Gómez (Mexico), Anila Quayyum Agha (Pakistan), Shirin Hosseinvand (Iran), Jason Seife (Florida), Suzanne Husky ( France and California) and Steven Young Lee (Montana). From rugs and mosaics to metalwork and ceramics, they merge age-old customs of arts and crafts with innovative techniques that interrupt tradition while collaborating with the past.

“The artists featured in ‘Tradition Interrupted’ show how they use memories and past experiences, particularly family and cultural traditions, to create artwork that speaks to them in a personal way,” said Andrea Ondish, curator of education. “These artists are not only influenced by the arts and crafts of their cultural past, but fuse them with innovative techniques of today to create a whole new visual culture. It becomes a new history of art – it’s powerful and enlightening.”

The artists shared the trepidation they felt when they conceptualized and created their art, but in the process of unraveling tradition, these artists embrace it and carry it forward. Ancestral memories and political history – which risk being forgotten in our rapidly changing digital world – take center stage here. It is more difficult to lose sight of something that concerns you.

Pakistani-American artist Anila Quayyum Agha integrates elaborate Islamic motifs with textile processes such as embroidery and screen printing to create architectural light installations. Her large-scale sculptures mimic Moorish mosques, spaces often off-limits to women, but the materials she uses often reference an artistic practice historically dominated by women. Through this irony, Agha works on both the beauty and the suffering linked to cultural traditions.

Artist Mounir Fatmi uses discarded technological and media objects such as typewriters and VHS tapes as materials in his work to interrogate religion, collective memory and the dichotomy between East and West. His installation “Maximum Sensation” is made up of 14 skateboards, each covered with a fragment of a Muslim prayer rug. This mix of Western popular culture and Eastern religion implores viewers to rethink the potential commonalities between the two, while highlighting how globalization makes this cross-pollination possible.

The artists of “Tradition Interrupted” attempt to reconsider the universal and ageless truths as well as the comfortable and uncomfortable stories of their heritage. In doing so, they unearth transmissions from the past as a means of exploring the future. The final task is left to the viewer: to consider aspects of the past, to embrace current and future traditions, and to consider what these shifts and changes mean for all of us in the future.

“Tradition Interrupted” will be on view at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum from February 19 through June 18. An online version of the exhibition will also be available.

The exhibition program includes the following events. Each session will take place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

April 9: Create and take a photograph by weaving like the artist Dinh Q. Lê.
May 7: Create and take a paper mosaic collage like artist Shirin Hosseninvand
June 4: Create & Take a sculpture in weaving and mixed media like the artist Ramekon O’Arwisters.

This exhibition is made possible through the financial support of the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

The Marshall M. Fredericks Museum of Sculpture is located on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University, 7400 Bay Road, Saginaw, MI. Museum hours are Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free entry. For more information, call 989-64-7125 or visit the Museum’s website at www.marshallfredericks.org.