Friday, July 15, 2016

Breaking Criminal Traditions at the Human Rights Institute Gallery of Kean University

The entrance to
The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions
at the Human Rights Institute Gallery of Kean University, Union New Jersey

This past March, I had the honor of speaking at the United Nations, Commission on the Status of Women-60th session. The session—Chaired by social activist, Cheryl Jefferson—was titled “Change Artists: Using the Arts to Leverage Change” and the ideas that were discussed were based on an always evolving traveling fine art exhibition titled “The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions.” As the Curator for the exhibition, my contribution to the discussion focused on the conception of the show, my curatorial selection process, and the project’s evolution over the past three years.

Earlier this week, I installed the latest version of “… Breaking Criminal Traditions” at the Human Rights Institute Gallery of Kean University in Union, New Jersey. The show consists of more than 50 works-of-art —painting, drawing, prints, sculpture, photography, and mixed media—created by twenty-two artists from around the country. A video tour of a past show—featuring Cheryl Jefferson—is projected to an adjacent outside public space… sparking interest and inviting onlookers into the expansive exhibition space.

The content of the exhibition calls attention to ongoing ancient rituals that continue to kill or maim millions of people each year—yet are not considered crimes. The interpretative content addressed violations such as honor killing, child marriage, human trafficking, and acid violence. Using the beauty of high-quality fine art pieces, the intent is to raise awareness of human rights issues and—in doing so—open a dialogue that may encourage change. The exhibition is designed to begin an exchange of ideas—raising social consciousness, which is the first step in preventing the continuation of these horrific acts.

The substance of each show is reevaluated, re-imagined and then chosen for each specific venue. With various human rights issues in mind, I select work that is approachable, yet makes a visual connection to the atrocities. Many of the exhibiting artists never intended that their work define these subjects. The work that is included is selected to allude to the issues—the meaning ultimately decided by the interpretation of the viewer.

An Opening Reception for “The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions” is scheduled for Tuesday, October 4th from 5-8 pm. The College Hour, Pre-Reception Programming with Cheryl Jefferson, will begin at 3:30. The Human Rights Institute Gallery is located at 1000 Morris Avenue in Union, New Jersey. The gallery is roughly fifteen-minutes via Uber from the Newark airport. Gallery Hours are Monday thru Wednesday: 11:00am–6:00pm, Thursday: 11:00am–4:30pm, and Friday: 11:00am–4:00pm Exhibitions are free and open to the public. Additional information on this project can be found at:

The exhibition includes works of art by: Carol Brookes [Chicago,IL], Corinna Button (Chicago, IL), James Deeb (Evanston, IL), Sheila Ganch (Chicago, IL), Claire Girodie (Baltimore, MD), Charles Gniech (Chicago, IL), Sergio Gomez (Chicago, IL), Andrea Harris (Chicago, IL), Teresa Hofheimer (Chicago, IL),  Lelde Kalmite (Chicago, IL), Paula Kloczkowski Luberda (Naperville, IL), Richard Laurent (Chicago, IL), Kathy Liao (Seattle, WA), Chandrika Marla (Northbrook, IL), Zoriah Miller (New York, NY, Paris, France), Joyce Polance (Chicago, IL), Nancy Rosen (Chicago, IL), Lorraine Sack (Tucson, AZ), Dominic Sansone (St. Charles, IL), Valerie Schiff (Evanston, IL), Barbara Simcoe (Omaha, NE), and Anne Smith Stephan (Wilmette, IL)