Gathered V: Georgia Artists Selecting Georgia Artists at MOCA GA, Atlanta

By March 15, 2022
exterior of a bright red brick building with colorful Taki's, Fanta, and Coca-Cola advertisements. In the center of the wall is a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe appearing to a Mexican man named Juan Diego in the miracle of roses.
Victoria Garcia, Takis, Miracles and Coca-Cola, 2020; photograph, 11 by 17 inches. Image courtesy the artist.

In its fifth iteration, Gathered V is a juried group show highlighting artists across the state of Georgia. Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, the exhibition is recognized throughout the region as an opportunity for a jury of prominent Georgia artists to select fellow artists to participate in the showcase. Jurors Krista Clark, Lucha Rodriguez, and Gregor Turk chose an eclectic mix of artists, with mediums as varied as textiles and video game design.

Douglas Baulos: Night’s Hand on Your Shoulder on view now at Swan Coach House

Architectural influences are visible in a number of works including Mitchell Biggio’s (DeKalb County) Ramps and Planes No. 12 and Kevin Kirkwood’s (Chatham County) Black Rock City. While the former represents minimalist structures with a panel of angled planes painted a stark black color, the latter resembles architectural or city plans across scores of meticulously arranged painted tape.

Other artists like Ben Steele (Cobb County) and Aaron Putt (Fulton County) offer more elusive presentations inspired by historical imagery, personal photographs, and futuristic architecture. The Shape of Things to Come (23) by Steele is a dizzying and monumental painting with its kaleidoscopic array of pyramid structures. Putt’s Untitled (Support Structure 4) “explores the intersection of personal and collective memory through the architecture of commemoration.” With its several modules intersticing in a manner reminiscent of molecular structures, its approach to architecture is more of an abstract rendering of memory formation.

Emma Chammah, Super El-Ayn, 2020; cotton, embroidery, poly-fil,
glass bead weight and cotton batting, 12 by 10 by 6 inches. Image courtesy the artist.

Emma Chammah’s (Fulton County) Super El-Ayn is a mask of embroidered cotton, comprised of many small satchels embellishing an evil eye amulet. Chammah’s embroidered evil eyes are adorned across this mask. The work, “intended for social and emotional war,” defends itself against any that would oppose it with its multitude of eyes. The textile piece is the only garment on display, and its stylization evokes a tactility as well as a sense of spiritual significance. Taking the talismanic evil eye and incorporating it in such a manner comes off as playful yet dignified with the way Chammah treats this age-old symbol within the context of a wearable work of art.

Another notable work is Uphill 2, a game designed by Yichin Zhou (Chatham County), presented with a singular vintage Game Boy that viewers are encouraged to play. In the game, the player digitally re-enacts the mythological punishment of Sisyphus, who in Greek legend was tasked by the gods to roll a boulder up a hill, only for it to roll back down the other side. Through the monotonous act of pressing the directional pad on Zhou’s Game Boy, our avatar climbs ever higher towards the goal. Uphill 2 concludes differently than the myth while retaining its Sisyphean influence. Zhou puts his own spin on the legend, motivating players to reconsider mundane actions and the filters through which we act out the absurd.

Group exhibitions of this size can be a curatorial challenge, and Gathered V places an emphasis on organizing works by subject and medium. For example, the only photography in the exhibition is located at the entrance, and the pairing of Jose Ibarra’s Mario’s Garden (Hall County) and Victoria Garcia’s Takis, Miracles and Coca-Cola (DeKalb County) felt heavy-handed, as both artists’ photographs reflect Latino cultural environments. More sculptural works involving wood, stone, and metal reside in the space adjacent to the entrance gallery. In the largest space at the back of the museum, a few remaining sculptural works are dominated by a slew of two dimensional pieces. While there is a refreshing diversity of mediums and subject matter across the works of the forty-six artists, their arrangement could have been more experimental in order to generate unexpected interactions. Even so, Gathered V does a sufficient job of celebrating Georgia artists, in scope and scale.

Gathered V: Georgia Artists Selecting Georgia Artists is on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Atlanta through March 19, 2022.

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