Exhibit #18: WORD. Elana Mann and James Griffith
WORD. brings together two artists: one of Jewish upbringing and one of no religious affiliation. In a time of renewed urgency in the contest for authority within religious traditions, we are reminded that it is often the artists, the outsiders, the heretics and the rebels who sneak into the house and run off with the idols. Progressive politics ignores religion at its own peril - the sacred house of existential meaning is owned by no one.
Featuring ELANA MANN in the Foyer Gallery and JAMES GRIFFITH in the Sanctuary.
The Foyer Gallery features the second iteration of Elana Mann's collaborative, performative work recently unveiled at Human Resources in Chinatown. The sculptural objects take the form of rattles, noisemakers, casts of hands turned into trumpets... a collection of tools designed for protest and ready for future deployment. They line the sweeping curved walls of the transitory space between the outside world and inner sanctuary, creating a dialogue with the Mid-century modern architecture of local architect John Galbraith, circa 1967, and the over 100 year old pipe organ in the balcony. Originating in the oral / aural tradition of her Jewish heritage, Elana Mann's work is a bridge that connects current struggles for human rights and female bodily autonomy with forgotten or suppressed aspects of the religious imagination.
The Sanctuary features James Griffith's paintings of cosmic phenomena and blackened landscapes, punctuated with words expressing existential longing. In a process that is as reductive as it is additive, Griffith uses one of the oldest, most elemental earthly resources: tar that he collects from the pits of La Brea, Los Angeles. With the paintings situated between a suite of 1967 Judson Studios stained glass windows, the shards of colored stones suspended between grains of sand further mediate the viewer's experience of living within dualities of the micro and the macro. With his fingers in the depths of the earth and eyes on the skies, James Griffith's work positions itself in the psychological space between.