From Erik Parra‘s drawings of human dwellings dwarfed by apocalyptic landscapes to Alison OK Frost‘s watercolors of emotionally ambivalent contemporary and past historic events, Kala Art Institute‘s current group exhibition “Myths of Progress” is a retrospective of sorts of human development and history, culminating with an artistic summary of findings at what some may term the end of history, 2012 and beyond.
The title, “Myths of Progress” alludes to Tom Wessels‘ book of a similar name, “The Myth of Progress,” which explores humanity’s path toward supposed “progress” based on economic expansion but conversely inefficient use of resources, and how that runs contrary to foundational scientific laws of natural systems. Many works in the exhibition reveal skepticism towards progress. Walter Robinson’s sculptural installation in the middle of the gallery comprised of a small oasis tarnished with oil, barricaded by a grouping of gas pumps fashioned to look like bayonet rifles and a domesticated endangered bobcat symbolize the social, political, religious and capitalist implications specifically in America. Similarly, photographs by Jessica Ingram (who finished her residency at Kala in 2011) poignantly document American daily life, nostaligcally chronicling the residuals of a culture whose values are in a constant state of flux.
Although the exhibition has connotations of such, it is not totally fatalistic. Michael Kreuger‘s “Hippie Papers” series, inspired by the graphics of psychedelic posters and underground newspapers, explores the hippy communes of the 1960s and 1970s with a humorous sense of optimism along with a healthy dose of Weltschmerz. Likewise, Michael McConnell‘s plush toys subvert their playful and jovial smiling faces with their Frankenstein-like surgical stitching. Despite the animal toy’s restraint to the ground, it is still trying to fly upwards and away.
“Myths of Progress” will be at Kala Art Institute until March 31, 2012