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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Georgetown gallery gives artistic voice to an “Age of Unreason”

Forget your preconceptions of dullness. Forget the stereotypes that shadow the world of art. Pure expression, unyielding honesty, total engagement with reality; such things that have made art powerful in the past are now resurrected in the present with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Georgetown.

Directors M.V. Clark and Felicity Hogan collection of works in the Age of Unreason focuses on the darker, unpublicized aspects of American society. An eclectic variety of mediums are seen here. The artists, each engaging different aspects of American culture, present their messages with unrelenting honesty.

A painting by Ron English portrays a strung-out James Dean in washed-out blues. Embodying the individual aftermath of consumer culture, he holds a gun to his head, glaring hopelessly into a hand mirror. The predatory nature of vanity is reflected from the back of the mirror. The aggressive face of a lion peers outward, seeming to hunt its next victim, us.

The foreground holds none other than Donald Duck, pictured in bright yellows. With this juxtaposition, Dean’s days of vane popularity appear long gone, his illusions of happiness finished. Dean, much like Donald, has become just another consumer icon. Robbed of his humanity, he may only retrieve himself by pulling the trigger.

The screen prints of Shepard Fairey show punk rock icons and political figures in bright oranges and soft blues. The word “obey” is placed somewhere on all of them. They are signs, not people, representative of the way in which social trends and pop culture can transform the individual.

The works move beyond mere aesthetic prettiness and into the beautiful representation of socio-political ugliness. As an exhibit, it challenges every fiber of contentment; like a banshee, it screams over mortal injustice. The pieces have a life of their own. What you see is not innocence and purity; it is the scar tissue of left from the wounds of society.

A massive wall of drawings by artist Bill Saylor provides media related imagery in an attempt to show its many effects on daily life. Chaotic in their psychological expressions of society, the works as a whole emanate a beautiful cacophonous noise. Individually, the pieces strongly communicate their respective messages.

Sculptures, videos, block prints and, of course, paintings, they’re simply too many pieces to fully introduce. Rest assured, however, that what has been written thus far is just the beginning.

The Age of Unreason speaks for itself. Where other galleries may have the feeling of constraint, MoCA provides a space where exhibits breathe freely, regardless of subject.

As a gallery, MoCA provides a steady flow of exhibits that question the norms of society. M.V. Clark and Felicity Hogan direct their galleries (MoCA [D.C.] and Flat [NYC]) as a couple. Being artists themselves, there is an understanding of just how difficult it is to make it in the art world. The two have endeavored to give young and emerging artists a place to exhibit works fresh out of the studio.

What is perhaps most astonishing is the range of people that visit the gallery. From learned professors to punk rock youth, the demographic is enormous, spanning generations.

Speaking boldly for themselves and proudly for each other, the works in the Age of Unreason refuse to be content. The exhibit pulses collectively with the agitation every work expresses individually; resonating long after the viewer has left its physical presence.

Age of Unreason is on display from April 18 – May 17 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. It is located at 1054 31st St in Georgetown’s’ Canal Square. Hours of operation are Wed.-Sun. 1-6 p.m. Admission is free.

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