Art League Houston is excited to announce that the 2016-2017 season will include exhibitions and art projects by the following artists:
Prince Varughese Thomas, Ann Johnson, J. Pouwels, Benjamin Terry, Shane Allbritton and Peter Bernick-Allbritton, Edward Kelley, and Hazel Meyer.
The Space Between Grief and Morning
Prince Varughese Thomas
Exhibition dates: March 24 – May 6, 2017
Opening reception: 6 – 9 PM Friday, March 24, 2017
Main Gallery I Artist talk: 6:30 PM
Art League Houston (ALH) is excited to present The Space Between Grief and Morning by Houston-based artist Prince Varughese Thomas. The exhibition features an interdisciplinary series of work that metaphorically explores the process of grief and mourning in private and public contexts. Through a combination of drawing, video and photography, the artist draws on art historical, political and personal references about death, as it relates to personal and communal loss. Not only do the works in this exhibition captivatingly explore the transition of life from physical to spiritual planes, they also carefully reframe the distinct moments that express painful loss in global terms, directly speaking to the contemporary state of the world. The exhibition includes an original sound composition by Houston Composer Joel Love, and original choral composition by Composer Nick Rissman.
Thomas’s personal experience of loss provides a thematic and emotional touchstone for this exhibition. “In 2014, I lost my father,” says the artist. “I had been his primary care-giver for over ten years, having moved him and my mother to live with me in Houston. During this time, I had taken care of every aspect of my father’s daily needs while witnessing the slow process of aging, disease, and its effects on the body”. This body of work takes this very personal experience of loss and translates it to a larger audience by exploring grief and mourning in its various forms.
The cyclical nature of life, and the transition from physical to spiritual planes are concepts explored in the exhibition by Resurrection, a single channel video incorporating 3D audio. The video integrates the sound of the artist’s father’s heartbeat with video of blood pumping through his body. The moon, a significant element within the video, has a rich tradition in many cultural histories as a referent for death and metaphorically acts as the vessel for this work.
The exhibition also features Ancestors, a series of photographs inspired by four generations of funeral photos from the artist’s family’s archives. The photographs reference photography’s historical tradition with documenting death, while metaphorically speaking about communal and personal loss. The moon is a recurring element within these images, referencing the mythological associations with death throughout cultures.
Mourners, a 2 channel video incorporating Stereo and 3D audio explores the artist’s fascination with the role of professional mourners. This practice is not unusual in many African and Asian countries when there are few family members to actually grieve for the deceased, but is now surfacing more in Western Societies. The video features a group of actors performing as mourners for a fictitious death, alongside a group of vocalists who perform an original choral composition which musically reinterprets people grieving by Composer Nick Rissman. The piece creates a dialog between the two group’s interpretations on being mourners while metaphorically speaking to our contemporary times.
Additionally, the exhibition features The Space Between Grief and Morning, a series of high contrast minimal charcoal drawings inspired by various tragic events that have occurred around the world that speak to our contemporary times. Murder, violence, migration, terrorism, and environmental tragedies are a few examples of the events that sparked the creation of these drawings, which pull from press photographs documenting the pain, suffering, and grieving of family members of these various events that have occurred globally. From these original press photos, the artist distilled, fragmented, and restructured the distinct moments that express painful loss in global terms and directly speaks to the contemporary state of the world. The title of each drawing reflects the specific location and date of a particular event that the drawing is referencing.
This exhibition is generously sponsored in part by Jereann Chaney, 3DIO, The Smither - Langley - Johnson Families, Picture Plus, Linda Shearer, Valspar and Clint Willour. Special thanks to the Station Museum of Contemporary Art.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Prince Varughese Thomas is an artist who is part of what has come to be known as the Indian Diaspora. “Being Indian by birth, born in Kuwait, naturalized in the US, and raised primarily between India and the United States, I have felt outside the dominant culture in which I exist. This sense of being the 'Other' has influenced how I view the world, approach my conceptual concerns, and create art. With an educational background and degrees in both Psychology and Art, I investigate and deconstruct complex sociopolitical issues from the interstices in personally expressive ways that humanize my subjects while incorporating a variety of photographic, video, and installation techniques into my artwork. My work has been characterized as poetic moments captured in chaotic worlds”.
A winner of the Time-Based Media in Art Prize 7 and a Texas Biennial Artist, Thomas has been invited to be a visiting artist, lecturer, panel discussant, and workshop instructor at numerous institutions including Ashkal Alwan Beirut, Lebanon; Indiana University; Memphis College of Art; the Light Factory, and the Queens Museum. Thomas’ work has been exhibited in over 150 solo and group exhibitions at numerous museums, galleries, and alternative spaces. His work is represented in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Thomas received his B.A. in Psychology from the University of Texas at Arlington, and M.F.A. from the University of Houston. He is currently a Professor of Art at Lamar University.