Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Young Artists Interpret Their Own Concerns about Freedom

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Young Artists Interpret Their Own Concerns about Freedom

Article excerpt

Kaitlyn Swartz is a painting major at UMSL, but her latest artwork veers dramatically from her favorite medium.

Expanding on the famous "four freedoms" expressed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Swartz, 24, chose to depict some of the ways women are constrained by domestic and sexual stereotypes.

So she made a Victorian-looking chaise out of cardboard and fabric, held together primarily with hot glue. Behind it, she built a room divider, the type that a woman might use for changing clothes. The chaise, she says, is part "reference to the reclining nude" and the "disappointment of ideals with relationship to men."

No one can sit on the velvety chaise, of course. Its foundation is mere cardboard. "It's an industrial spin on the rococo," Swartz says.

Swartz's artwork is part of an exhibit by students at the Gallery at the Kranzberg Arts Center. Curated by instructors and artists Michael Behle and Gina Grafos, "Role as Citizen" has its opening reception Friday and is on view through Dec. 29. But the exhibit not only gives public space to some area students, it also joins a countrywide effort to use art as a forum for public discourse.

The progenitor is For Freedoms' 50 State Initiative. Its website says that with "non-partisan nationwide programming, we use art as a vehicle for participation to deepen public discussions on civic issues and core values. We are a hub for artists, arts institutions, and citizens who want to be more engaged in public life."

Referencing FDR's famous "freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear," part of its national effort includes billboards and a photo campaign that reimagines the four freedoms and how they were depicted in Norman Rockwell's paintings of them.

The students in St. Louis are also responding to a recent Kranzberg exhibit of Oscar Murillo's art, which included various found objects and challenged some of the students to understand how they counted as artwork. For "Role as Citizen," they were to use almost any medium other than painting. …

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