Curated by Michael Goe and M. Pofahl
July 8 – August 29
Online Exhibition: https://www.progressiveartstudiocollective.org/collections/portals
Participating Artists: Jotina Ballard, Jirard Bond, Jerri Burks, Dennis Cenzer, Latashia Culver, Robert Duncombe, Lawrence Evans, Eric Green, Ronald Griggs, Darlene Mahan, Micah Marek, Ivory McKinley, Keisha Miller, Scott Maciejewski, Khiry O’Neil, Alsendo Owens, John Peterson, Joselyn Rice, and Jeremy Taylor.
Portals are gateways that lead elsewhere. Sometimes they guide us to a place that reveals valuable information, with powerful insights, while other times a portal may take us to a place of mystery and suspense. The artworks featured in this exhibition are like portals. They beckon you to follow them on a journey, weaving in and out of fantasy and realism, poetry and prose, landscape and portraiture, abstraction and figuration, and most notably, they encompass all the spaces in-between.
Each artwork in this show is like a vignette inviting the viewer inside a story where they can write their own ending. For example, in the expressive work of John Peterson, a viewer can watch a drama unfold. Two figures in his artwork, a girl wearing a cross and a devil, are juxtaposed into a compressed composition, creating a tension that transports the viewer into an emotional headspace of the subject. The viewer can come back to this work again and again and play out a new storyline with each interaction.
Encouraging audiences to critically explore beyond the binary of reality and fiction, this collection of artwork hints at a vision of society that begs its viewer to reflect, dream, and imagine. As the writer bell hooks states, “To be truly visionary we have to root our imagination in our concrete reality while simultaneously imagining possibilities beyond that reality.” In other words, one must draw on their experience from day-to-day reality, but one must also be able to imagine a life beyond the everyday.
There is an everyday reality that many artists at STEP face. All these artists live with disabilities and must face the social stigma that surrounds disability. In addition, there are other parts of their lives that they navigate on a daily basis, some are dealing with difficult home lives, economic hardship, or other life issues. This reality grounds their work yet gives rise to incredible imagination.
Michael Goe is an artist and museum professional. He earned his Master of Arts degree in painting from Adams State University in 2016. Michael’s passion for art came from years of living in rural areas that had limited access to cultural events. In 2014, while living in an area of Colorado still considered to be the frontier by the U.S. Government, Michael started the city’s very first monthly Art Walk. Through this experience he saw how art can connect people from different backgrounds and create meaningful interactions which have the power to strengthen a community. Michael moved to Detroit Michigan in 2016 with his wife and has continued to pursue his artistic passions through working at the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.
M Pofahl is an interdisciplinary artist, curator, and educator based in Detroit, Michigan, with roots in the South-Eastern United States. Pofahl holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography and Film from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master of Fine Arts in Photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art. During their time in Detroit, they have worked with various art institutions, including Science Gallery Detroit, Wayne State University, Project Art Detroit, and Red Bull Arts Detroit. Pofahl is currently a curatorial fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, where they focus on work that pushes societal, technological, and conceptual conventions.