Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts
Grand Rapids, MI
US IS THEM is a powerful exhibition of works by 42 international artists who confront issues of politics, religion, and racism. The exhibition presents more than 50 individual contemporary artworks across a diverse range of media including painting, sculpture, photography, and video.
The exhibition is organized to reflect timely and potent issues of social justice and current affairs across the world. Artists are in the unique position to create things of beauty that inspire reflection, elevate our consciousness, and fuel a sense of responsibility. The artists in US IS THEM continue that tradition by creating enlightening and thoughtful works that challenge and rearrange stale notions of identity and obsolete notions of difference.
As the title suggests, this exhibition focuses on what connects rather than what separates us. We live in a global society. What happens abroad impacts us at home. What happens at home reverberates across the world. While we experience dramatic social, cultural, economic, and environmental changes, people across continents share in a continuing fight for social justice, solidarity, and tolerance. This exhibition presents works that respond to and raise awareness about our common human condition.
The exhibition is organized geographically, with a section dedicated to artists with roots in Africa and the Caribbean, which reveals a focus on the persistent legacy of colonialism. Galleries devoted to Chinese artists include works that address individual voices in a vast society. Artists from the Middle East contemplate religious freedoms and fights for equality, while American artists address continuing racism and bigotry.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.