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Midwestern Voices and Visions | 2008 Exhibition

Every 3 years, Midwestern Voices and Visions culminates in an exhibition, showcasing artist awardees and introducing new audiences to their powerful voices and visions.

Each exhibition is organized by a curator with ties to the project and hosted by a partner organization. Exhibitions have been held in Detroit (2014), Chicago (2011), and Omaha (2008).







Midwestern Voices & Visions

Exhibition Details

Featured Artists

Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
June 26 - August 16, 2008
Omaha, Nebraska

curator: Hesse McGraw

Meet-the-Artists Reception
June 27, 2008

Francisco Aragon Reading
June 28, 2008

Francisco Aragón
Reginald Baylor
Robert Farid Karimi
Cecil McDonald
Tomiko Pilson
Artur Silva
Thu Tran

meet the artists > >



Press Release

The group exhibition Midwestern Voices & Visions features seven artists who each participated in Midwestern artists-in-residence programs in 2007. The artists were selected through an Alliance of Artists Communities effort to recognize outstanding artists from diverse backgrounds and promote their participation in Midwestern artist residencies. The exhibition encompasses disparate media and approaches to subjects, ranging from cultural identity and family history to the splintered nature of contemporary life.

The exhibition is part of Bemis' Creativity Festival, a 3-day event exploring multidiscplinary art-making from process to presentation.

Participating Artists and Residency Programs
Francisco Aragon | Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies | Red Wing, Minnesota
Reginald Baylor | Ragdale Foundation | Lake Forest, Illinois
Robert Farid Karimi | John Michael Kohler Art Center | Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Cecil McDonald, Jr. | Prairie Center of the Arts | Peoria, Illinois
Tomiko Pilson | Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts | Omaha, Nebraska
Artur Silva | Ox-Bow | Saugatuck, Michigan
Thu Tran | Art Farm | Marquette, Nebraska

Francisco Aragon is the author of the poetry collection, Puerta del Sol (Bilingual Press). His work has appeared in a range of anthologies and journals both print and web-based. He directs Letras Latinas, the literary program of the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Robert Karimi created for the exhibition an installation called "washing racism off of my feet from the foot to its child". Created in the Kohler Factory, Karimi used a footbath as a public statement against those critical of public footbaths in Minnesota because they were considered symbols of religion, rather than a public health concern. On the walls, he wove Neruda’s From the Foot to Its Child and other texts (concerning the need for foot care) with images of the Iraqi war — because the war was one of the rationales against the baths. As a son of a Muslim father, he discussed, with patrons, the issues of the baths, religion, and sand as an alternative to water for footwashing.

Reginald Baylor's paintings feature a utopian world wholly his own — he supplants drab suburbia with candy-colored neighborhoods, transforms the common flower garden into a hard-edged terrain of idealized specimens, and renders the quintessential 1950s family in high-key neon.

Cecil McDonald’s photographs depict everyday moments of life in domestic spaces. McDonald carefully stages scenarios with his wife and children that convey the power of photography to capture life’s emotional rhythms, from the dramatic to the mundane.

Tomiko Pilson, informed by classical figure painting, creates work rooted in the grand narrative tradition. As a woman of mixed racial and ethnic heritage, she also draws from her many experiences as an "other," generating a synthesis of the two. Her paintings transport viewers to imagined places, such as lush jungles of distant lands, which explore "dangerous territory."

Artur Silva works with a host of digital media to create outsized “productless” ads that explore the ways commercial products are packaged, advertised and distributed. By incorporating elements from advertising, his installations suggest the fragmentation of the contemporary visual world and the manner in which diverse cultures reflect that imagery. He created "Synthetic Narcolepsy #2" -- a wall-sized installation with paper and video -- for the Creative Festival.

Thu Tran is a self-confessed food-ophile on a perpetual quest for the ultimate “visual MSG.” Her vibrant works, spanning diverse media and ranging from drawings of whimsical worlds to decadent social experiments, are characterized by an engaging sense of glee and willful experimentation with form and the role of the viewer.

Exhibitions Presenting Sponsor | Omaha Steaks

Sponsors | Clark Creative Group, Nebraska Arts Council and Upstream Brewing Co.

Robert Karimi

Robert Karimi's installation, "washing racism off of my feet from the foot to its child"

Artur Silva

Artur Silva's installation, "Synthetic Narcolepsy #2"

Reginald Baylor

Reginald Baylor's "Family Vacation"

Cecil McDonald

Cecil McDonald's "Harmonic Portico"