New Art and Visual Technology Exhibition Invites Community Participation

Posted: October 17, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

While Americans and the rest of the global community are intensely focused on the outcome of the 2008 presidential election, artists are also struggling with the point and counterpoint of the political compass in our nation’s capital.

As a way of delivering personal responses and insights about our sense of conscience, including cultural identity and political decision making, Mason’s Art and Visual Technology Department (AVT) is presenting an exhibition titled “The Conscience of a Nation: Sid Chafetz Leads the Way.”

Curated by Helen Frederick, AVT professor and coordinator of printmaking, the show will be presented in Gallery 123 on the Fairfax Campus from Oct. 27 through Nov. 7. The opening reception will be held on Oct. 28 from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

“The Conscience of a Nation” features the work of a group of regional and invited artists who have been asked to exhibit their visual commentaries about our community, particularly to investigate the psyche of survival instincts and emergency situations that grow from the consequences of the political actions of our leaders.

To make the exhibition dynamic and collaborative, Mason faculty members and students are invited to add their own work to the exhibition throughout the week before and after the election.

“I conceived the exhibition as a way of sharing discourse and collaborating with other artists, including younger artists, at a time when transformation is critically needed in the world,” Frederick says.

“The nation’s capital is a Petri dish for shared boundaries of cultural and political awareness. Mason seemed a very suitable place to make visible the psychic conditions growing from our deep personal and universal concerns that have erupted around the time of the election.”

The show is anchored around artist and printmaker Sid Chafetz’s provocative digital print “Walter Reed Hospital.” This 48” x 96” work was inspired by the Walter Reed Army Medical Center neglect scandal, and juxtaposes images of amputees and replacement limbs with the heads of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleeza Rice positioned on athletic bodies in motion.

“I’ve been very critical of this administration and its behavior and I thought an absurd image might express my feelings better than a factual image based on reality,” Chafetz said.

For more than 60 years, Chafetz has created art shaped by the political events that define our culture and determine our survival. His work is displayed at the Museum of Modern Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Columbus Museum of Art and the Dahlem Museum in Berlin, among others.

Chafetz said his work is inspired by Rembrandt “for his deep sympathy of human beings” and Francisco Goya, whose work “was consistently critical of war and its consequences.”

Mason students and faculty who wish to participate in “The Conscience of a Nation” must contact either Frederick at 703-993-1013 or, or Solomon Wondimu, exhibitions assistant, at

The following artists will have work on display:

Ken Ashton

Graham Boyle

Meaghan Bush

Sid Chafetz

Billy Colbert

Fred Folsom

*Peggy Feerick

*Helen Frederick

*Chawky Frenn

Steve Frost

John Hitchcock

Bridget Lambert

Manuel Navarette

Peggy Parker

Rob Parrish

Jefferson Pinder

Mark Planisek

Michael Platt

Steve Prince

*Renee Sandell

Tate Shaw

Erwin Thamm

Yee-Haw Industries

*Sean Watkins

*Genna Watson

Rex Weil

*Sue Wrbican

Additional Mason Faculty and Students

(*Mason faculty)

This event is free and open to the public. The gallery is located on the Johnson Center’s main level.

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