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Race, Identity and the 'American Cypher'

See the U.S.A. through DNA

Apr. 2, 2014
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The paradigms with which human beings understand themselves change over time. Cutting-edge research into prehistoric art suggests our distant progenitors saw themselves as existing in a realm of animal spirits, requiring the intervention of shamans. The ascendency of Christianity promoted the view that human beings are sinful creatures in need of God’s saving grace. Beginning with the Enlightenment, scientific interpretations have taken center stage. That beguiling substance, deoxyribonucleic acid, has proven especially illuminating in explaining what we are as a species and who we are as individuals.

Mendi and Keith Obadike’s “American Cypher” investigates the intersection between DNA and contemporary understandings of race and the American identity. The multimedia installation takes its cues from five narratives in which DNA and identity become thematic. The infamous Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemings affair, President Obama’s celebrated genetic background, Oprah and James Watson all figure prominently in the exhibition.

“American Cypher” opens on Thursday, April 3, from 6-8 p.m. with a 20-minute performance by Mendi +Keith at 7 p.m. The suite will be on display until May 18, at INOVA/Kenilworth Square East, 2155 N. Prospect Ave.


“23 Pineapples”

Portrait Society Gallery

207 E. Buffalo St., Fifth Floor

Historically speaking, the pineapple has not been the artist’s preferred fruit. Perhaps the abundance of symmetrical leaves just becomes tedious to paint. Fitting then that the “23 Pineapples” on display now until April 15 at Portrait Society Gallery, are all photographs. Not only does the exhibition contribute fodder for research concerning the pineapple in contemporary art, the show will also donate its proceeds to the Hunger Task Force, thereby transforming representations of food into actual food. Ceci est un ananas! The gallery is open Thursday-Saturday 1-5 p.m. with a reception on Friday, April 4, from 6-9 p.m.


Senior Art Majors Thesis Exhibition and Art Student Union Spring Exhibition

Carroll University

120 N. East Ave. and 238 N. East Ave.

If you’ve been debating making the trip to Waukesha, April 6 through 17 is an opportune time to visit Carroll University. During those twelve fugitive days, the institution will mount two major exhibitions. The Paddock Bliss Gallery is to be bedecked with the thesis exhibition of senior art majors. The opening day reception from 3-5 p.m. is an ideal time to meet and greet the young lions of the art world. The Marceil Pultorak Atrium Gallery will hold “Carroll Art Student Union Spring Exhibition.” The juried mixed-media show will have a reception on Thursday, April 10, from 4-6 p.m.


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