RESPONDERS exhibits work by Binglin Li, Melissa Joseph and Katherine Volpe the 2017 winners of The Fourth Wall competition. Currently second year MFAs, each of these artists recognizes the need for human connection and generates works which address historical incidents and shared traumas.
Binglin Li says about his work:
"I do not consider myself a political artist but I am always aware of the limitations the Chinese government imposes . I was born in 1990s when the Chinese government had a one child birth control law, so I and my contemporaries don’t have siblings and we become “the loneliest generation”. Therefore, I tend to observe the world with this perspective. I don’t want to attack the rules, as we cannot change history, rather, I want to document the changes that have occurred in our intellectual way of living by these historical incidents."
Melissa Joseph says about her work:
"My life can be divided into two parts: the part before I heard about Freddie Gray and the part after. It was at that moment--when I heard his tragic story at the hands of six Baltimore police officers--that I knew I could no longer do nothing about the violence that is so prevalent in our society. My works are acts of atonement.
I have approached the subject from multiple angles, from painted icons to soft sculpture and encaustic. I found stonecarving to be the most efficient medium for communicating the heaviness of the content driving my work. Carving stone is a human impulse going back tens of thousands of years. The struggle and release afforded by the process is not unique to me. Still, I am compelled to chisel and smooth stone after stone into monuments of sanctuary and testimony. Using serenity and beauty as points of access, each object calls on the viewer to reflect on the infrastructures that allow for the violence to continue and to consider our own roles in them.
The solemn and ancient materials of concrete, stone and wax convey the gravity of these narratives. Stone and cement demand consideration due to their weight and strength. Wax offers hope through malleability and translucence. The density of the materials makes them impossible to ignore. Their resistance embodies my struggle."
Katherine Volpe says about her work:
"I grew up with the silence of a tragedy. When my father was a first responder and survivor of September 11th, I was seven years old. What he saw, what he felt, and how it affected him afterwards was never spoken of, but I had experienced years of confused sadness without having any concrete information about his pain.
He tried his best to shield everything from me, but then recently said, “You can’t hide things from children; you felt the pain through me as I held you”. I am navigating the story, sixteen years later, to reach a sense of stability and understanding through line and text. In recreating each of the blueprints, I am memorializing the first step of a drawing that wasn’t supposed to outlive the finished skyscraper it created."