Curated by Alison M. Gingeras, Stuart Comer & Robb Leigh Davis, Assistant Curator Ariella Wolens
Donald Moffett, Call the White House, 1990
Marlene McCarty, HONK (If Your Body's Not Yours), 1990
McDermott & McGough, God Answers Your Prayers (1984), 2016
Jessica Craig Martin, Freedom
Since our founding, the United States has confronted extended periods of fractious history and sociopolitical turbulence. The cohesion of our union has been in large measure enabled by a collective belief in the value of our diversity—a notion that is enshrined by our country’s motto, the Latin phrase “E pluribus unum, or “Out of many, One.” This unifying adage serves as a reminder of the hard fought struggles to find common ground despite the multiplicity of cultures, divergence of beliefs, and conflicting ideas that have been an intrinsic part of our diverse nation.
Given the tumultuous events and highly divisive rhetoric that dominated the past presidential election cycle, Divided States of America is an exhibition that has been organized in the spirit of unification in the face of adversity. Timed to open as we inaugurate a new president on January 20, 2017, Divided States of America will showcase a wide range of artists whose work resists the calls for division, exclusion, and regression in our current era.
Organized in the public gathering spaces and thoroughfares of The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center - a vital institution founded in 1983 - Divided States of America is an exhibition that brings together works by a diverse group of contemporary artists from our New York community specifically chosen in response to this current moment. The selected works speak together to form a chorus of opposition to the acrimonious discourse of the national political arena. With such fundamental rights as freedom of speech and expression under fire, the very act of exhibiting work that embraces radical social diversity, progressive values and constructive political dialogue challenges the ominous threats to our inclusive national identity.
Divided States of America includes work by several pioneering figures whose political art practices have served as important oppositional voices during past periods of crisis such as Donald Moffett and Marlene McCarty from the AIDS and homophobia advocacy collective Gran Fury, longtime women’s rights activist Marilyn Minter as well as work by a younger generation of politically engaged artists including Lizzi Bougastos, Jonathan Horowitz, Zoe Leonard, Ridedykulous (A.L. Steiner and Nicole Eisenman), Borna Sammak and Xaviera Simmons.
Divided States of America features work by Lyle Ashton Harris, Lizzi Bougastos, Tom Burr, Matt Connors, Jessica Craig Martin, Jessica Diamond, Billy Gerard Frank, Barbara Hammer, Jonathan Horowitz, Zoe Leonard, Glenn Ligon, David Macke, Marlene McCarty, McDermott & McGough, Sam McKinniss, Ryan McNamara, Julie Mehretu, Bjarne Melgaard, Marilyn Minter, Donald Moffett, Maynard Monrow, Rob Pruitt, Ridykeulous, Borna Sammak, Collier Schorr, Xaviera Simmons, Betty Tompkins and Piotr Uklański.