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Media Clips: Facing Our Fear

Virginia Pilot 1/20/17

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Facing Our Fear: 

Local artists address fears about Trump presidency through Norfolk exhibition

  Katherine Hafner | The Virginian-Pilot


The day after the election, a group of artists gathered to discuss their fears about a Donald Trump presidency. We really were so upset, said Jeanne Goodman. We were trying to make sense of a new political landscape. But it's like Carrie Fisher said, Take your broken heart and make it into art.

They decided to do just that. The resulting exhibition‚ titled Facing Our Fearâ₂ opened Inauguration Day with split displays at Old Dominion University, Perry Library and the dArt Center. It's a partnership with the Institute for Jewish Studies and Interfaith Understanding and includes 29 fear-related pieces.

Hours after Trump was sworn in as the 45th president Friday, the participants discussed their work in an opening program at ODU. Ray Hershberger, one of the artists and organizers, said it was scheduled for that day‚ not so much as a protest as an alternate event‚ to address the community's concerns and hopes. It was kind of about standing up, staying strong, said Hershberger, whose painting features authorities in riot gear facing off against figures with their hands in the air, all shrouded in smoke. He said it was inspired by a famed Francisco Goya painting of peasants before a firing squad.

Karen Kinser's work was a comical jab at the new president and includes Alice in Wonderland characters surrounding Trump's head on a platter, with a talk bubble from him that reads Tweet.

She said the exhibit started with the group expressing anger about Trump's election, then expanded to fear in general, leaning toward fear of what’s going on politically.” Other pieces depict fears of losing core values – like a painting of a young girl hanging onto balloons with words including “respect” and “honesty” – and restricting the rights of Muslims and refugees. Artist Manuela Mourao built a cage, within which hangs a metal chastity belt above a scattering of red roses and box of Tic Tacs – a nod to Trump’s remarks about using the brand of mints before kissing women. She said she thinks the recent political climate is normalizing misogynistic behavior. Farrideh Goldin, who immigrated to the U.S. from Iran decades ago, said she’s been worried about what comes next for minorities. During and following the Iranian hostage crisis, “I was Iranian. I was dirty, labeled,” she said. “My fear is which world are we going to see next?” The one she experienced back then, or one where progress is made? she asked. But the artists also emphasized they are hoping for the best from the new administration. Kinser said she listened to Trump’s inaugural speech on the drive over and liked it. “I just hope he’s telling the truth,” she said. “Each one of us has faced our fear; we’ve defined them,” Hershberger said Friday. “And we’re moving forward.” The “Facing Our Fear” exhibit runs through Feb. 10.





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