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SMC Art Gallery explores globalized landscapes

| Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Moreau Art Galleries of Saint Mary’s launched a new exhibit Wednesday featuring four distinct art pieces by collaborating artists Ryan Griffis and Sarah Ross.

The art pieces are inspired by globalization and industrialization of rural towns, Griffis said.

Ross and Griffis agreed the exhibit takes a “poetic” angle on metropolitan, cosmopolitan, urban landscapes.

The largest installation, “Global Cities, Model Worlds” is located in Little Theater and Sister Rosaire Gallery. Ross said the multidimensional and interactive piece  focuses on “the spatial and social impacts of mega-events, specifically Olympic games.”

Three videos that make up “From the Bottomlands to the World (an excerpt)” play on a loop in Hammes Gallery: “Granular Space” (2012), “Submerging Land” (2012) and “Moving Flesh” (2014).

“The artists write that the host cities of these international spectacles seek to transform themselves into ‘global cities’ through planning, architecture and ideology,” Tiffany Johnson Bidler, the director of the galleries, said. “Locally, these events pave the way for redevelopment projects that can create new public resources such as parks, stadiums or transportation infrastructure but often result in significant displacement of residents or industry, reinforcing existing inequalities.”

According to Ross’s website, the video trilogy is an experimental take on a rural Midwestern town of 6,000 people, “a place of global exchange and international mobility.”

Small Midwestern cities are a hub for industries hoping to avoid urban regulations and immigrants seeking employment, Ross said.

This exchange is evident in Beardstown, Ill. The city’s major industry, a slaughterhouse, hired migrants from Mexico before turning to immigrants from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Togo, Senegal, Puerto Rico and other Caribbean locales for new workers, Ross said.

The exhibition is a result of time and effort on the parts of Griffis and Ross, Johnson Bidler said.

“The artists installed their own show for the most part in this case, and it took them two days,” Johnson Bidler said. “They drove in from Chicago. The gallery assistants and I were responsible for wall text, labels and promotion of the event.”

This exhibition is free and available to the public until Oct. 31.

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