"Tough Love" exhibit open until February 6

"Tough Love," the second of three art exhibitions exploring themes of social justice at CSW's Thompson Gallery, will be hosting a gallery talk and personal tour of the exhibit by Todd Bartel, gallery director, on Saturday, January 24.

"Tough Love" examines gay rights, same sex marriage, and intense anti-gay rhetoric through the eyes of two artists, Daren Young and Andrew Graham '99.

Young and Graham titled the exhibition "Tough Love" because as Graham points out, "A 'tough love' would be a love that has struggled enormously and yet has survived."

"It is not an attempt to tackle the whole argument, nevertheless it acts as a portrait, a contemporary snapshot of our cultural dilemma around alternative lifestyles and rights, or the lack thereof, regarding the interpretation of our most cherished laws and ideals," Todd said.

Young, an openly gay artist and activist in Salt Lake City, Utah, presents his multimedia "Virtual Wedding" and an autobiographical series of drawings, which chronicles his personal story as he came to acknowledge his sexual identity. Graham, from Brooklyn, New York, creates painted replicas of the placards which Rev. Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas used during their now infamous and notorious anti-gay protests at various events, which included gay pride gatherings, military funerals, Christian and political gatherings.

"Juxtaposing Young's evocative work with Graham's provocative work raises many questions about civil rights, the definition of marriage, first amendment rights and the 'pursuit of happiness,' while at the same time dovetailing with CSW's dedicated focus on social justice," Todd said.

Young will be displaying two installations in the exhibit; "Snapshots from My Youth: Pivotal Moments from 1969 to 1978," a series of drawings presented like photographs from a scrapbook, and a multi-video installation. "Virtual Wedding," which combines drawings with time-based media, explores many pros and cons of same sex marriage through documentary interviews with several gay and lesbian partners, while his "snap-shot" drawings of each couple symbolically retains their testimony.

"As the audience views my art, I want it to evoke their own individual memories or life experiences regardless of whether they are straight or gay," Young said. "I hope to generate greater understanding and awareness of what it means to be different and outside the center, especially as it relates to life in our often very conservative community."

Graham's work, "Taking Sides," attempts to expose the gray areas of the first amendment by taking imagery from actual signs used in the WBC demonstrations led by Pastor, Fred Phelps.

"My overall personal vision extends beyond these signs and slogans, however, to address themes of queerness, orthodoxy, and 'American tribalism,' I combine stylistic associations with abstract expressionist, op, and pop art movements, and optical elements from various world cultures and religions, as well as references to my own experiences," Graham said.

The gallery talk will take place on Saturday, January 24, from 1 to 2 p.m., in the Thompson Gallery, Garthwaite Center for Science and Art. The "Tough Love" exhibit runs through February 6, 2009.

The Cambridge School of Weston is a progressive high school for day and boarding students in grades 9–12 and PG. CSW's mission is to provide a progressive education that emphasizes deep learning, meaningful relationships, and a dynamic program that inspires students to discover who they are and what their contribution is to their school, their community and the world.