Looking back on what has been a devastating year, I think about the many powerful works of art that have cut through the pervasive doom and provided the perspective or hope needed by so many of us. Some of the most notable of these include the public artwork of Sam Durant in Concord, Mehdi Ghadyanloo’s mural on the Greenway, Tala Madani and Edgar Arceneaux at MIT, Walid Raad at the ICA, Carrie Mae Weems at Harvard, and the concurrent shows of Steve Locke this fall in the South End.
The works of these artists vary in their political intensity, but all speak to the urgency of the situation of our continually divided world. Some uncover a latent optimism as in the rising figures of Ghadyanloo, or Madani’s female empowerment through the rather brutal emasculation of the male portrait, while the installations of Durant and Locke directly emphasize our inability to learn from a long history of racial injustices. What I find so encouraging is the unblinking directness with which these artists address us. We should not be allowed to hide from the realities that are lived by our neighbors, or that we suppress in ourselves, particularly in a city that so often faultily believes itself to be a bubble free of fear and inequality.
Image: Steve Locke, School of Love, Samsøn Projects, 2016 (installation view). photo: Maggie Jensen