Flushing Town Hall adopts diversity’s hodgepodge as art’s theme

Flushing Town Hall adopts diversity’s hodgepodge as art’s theme
Curator Heng-Gil Han opted for a wide-open approach for Flushing Town Hall’s “The Aesthetics of Diversity” rather than holding submissions to a particular theme.
By April Isaacs

Heng-Gil Han, the curator for Jamiaca Center for Arts & Learning, wanted to try a different approach to his exhibit for Flushing Town Hall. Entitled “The Aesthetics of Diversity,” Han's show began with him e-mailing more than 100 artists involved with Flushing Town Hall, asking that they each send three works, from which he'd choose the strongest piece and display it in the exhibit.

“The exhibition took no theme and adopted a process-oriented, formless approach, attempting to let things be. In other words, I wanted the project to form by itself,” Han said of his vision for the show.

Flushing Town Hall, operated by Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, has been in operation for 25 years, with the purpose of cultivating the arts in Queens. Seminars, workshops and other networking resources are available to both emerging and established artists.

One hundred works are on display in a variety of media — photography, oil paint, ceramics and sculpture — though Han said most works in the exhibit are mixed-media.

The ceramic work from Sin-ying Ho is one of the strongest pieces in the exhibit, according to Han. “[Her work] literally demonstrates the idea of post-modernism,” Han said of her untitled piece chosen for the exhibit, which is a vase, covered in tile panels — one painted with a classic Chinese design and the other a depiction of Mao Zedong. Han said it combines “various, multiple layers of meanings and the complexity of our present culture at the age of globalization and technological advancement.”

Other notable artists in the exhibit include Carlos Esguerra, an emerging artist who began painting after retirement. The piece he has on display is an oil paint rendition of sculptor Martin Puryear's “Ladder for Booker T. Washington,” which was on display at MoMA in 2007.

Not all of the works displayed, however, are professional quality, which was part of Han's intent. “In our administered society of mechanical production, we are too often oriented to productivity and efficiency, whereby taking away our own creative liberty and turning ourselves into a mere part of machinery, allowing us to think that individuals can be supplanted,” he said. “In reaction to this blind modernity, I put this exhibition together that, being a group show of various artworks by about 75 artists, reminds us of individual diversities and the population diversities in the broad picture as well.”

The exhibit also featured an artists' salon on Aug. 10, moderated by Lucy Davidson, the director of arts services at Flushing Town Hall. Finally, on Aug. 24, two artists' studios will be open to the public to show their works in progress and further discuss their technique, work schedule and lifestyle as an artist.

If you go:

“Aesthetics of Diversity” Members Art Exhibition

When: Through Aug. 31., Tuesdays – Sundays noon – 5 p.m.

Where: Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing

Suggested donation: $5

For more: flushingtownhall.org/events

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