October 28 – January 6, 2021
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
We know this phrase from the Declaration of Independence quite well. For most of us Americans growing up, we learned this phrase and it’s meaning in our early days of school. As a kid, there was little reason to question it’s meaning. It was clear and I liked it. I liked this American Dream and the idea this was a country where everyone could be treated as equals and pursue the life of their choosing. I quickly learned that phrase wasn’t meant for people of color. You see, in order for this to be true, this country would have to see all people as human and hold the same value for everyone. History has proven time and time again this simply isn’t the case. This country has failed all non-white people from the beginning and instead of acknowledging the truth and building a bridge toward healing, the United States government finds more elaborate and insidious ways to continue inflicting damage to marginalized communities and avoids being held accountable for it’s actions and crimes against humanity. The communities most in need never get to heal much less ever have their needs addressed. What can we do if our government will not protect and provide for us?
Crossroads asks us to look toward something new to find the answer to that question. This series comprised of ten portraits of people of color look away from the camera. They are strong and determined in their posture and suggest they are ready to look for life, liberty, and happiness elsewhere. In this context, facing away from the camera is an act of defiance. It is a protest. We do not have to acknowledge this government if it will not acknowledge us. If we are ever to have a life as stated in the Declaration of Independence, we will need to create it for ourselves.
The weight of the finished pieces symbolize the heavy burdens people of color have to carry around from one generation to the next. The depth given to the portraits covered in UV acrylic resin can make the figures look as if they are drowning. The cold and rust of the metal frames surrounding them symbolizes the way our country treats us. With cold indifference and put in boxes.
Crossroads does not offer any solutions. I wish I had them to share. Instead, it is meant to start a conversation of what it would look like if we were to unify and look toward something new.
Questioning generalized stereotypes and the lack of fair and equal representation of people of color in art spaces has led artist Alanna Airitam to research critical historical omissions and how those contrived narratives represent and influence succeeding generations. Her photographic series The Golden Age, Crossroads, White Privilege, and individual works such as Take a Look Inside and How to Make a Country ask the viewer to question who they are and how they choose to be seen.
Airitam’s portraits and vanitas are photographed in studio with minimal lighting rendering a painterly quality to her photographs. The archival pigment prints from The Golden Age series are hand-varnished while those in the Crossroads, Take a Look Inside and How to Make a Country series are archival prints encased in resin and placed in hand-welded frames. All works are produced by the artist in limited editions.
Alanna is a 2020 San Diego Art Prize winner, 2020 Top 50 Critical Mass Finalist, and recipient of the 2020 Michael Reichmann Project Grant Award. Her photographs have been exhibited at Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago, Quint Gallery in San Diego, San Diego Art Institute, Art Miami with Catherine Edelman, Athenaeum Art Center in San Diego, and Candela Gallery in Richmond, Virginia. Born and raised in Queens, New York, Airitam now resides in Tucson, Arizona.
Exhibitions & Shows
San Diego Art Prize 2020, Bread & Salt Gallery, San Diego, CA, September 5 — October 24, 2020
Photography &____, Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago, IL, July 10 — September 4, 2020
How to Make a Country, Athenaeum Art Center, San Diego, CA, March 17 — May 9, 2020
The Golden Age, Candela Books & Gallery, Richmond, VA, January 2 — February 22, 2020
Xquisite Corpse, Bread & Salt, January 12 — March 30, 2019
The Art of Belonging, You Belong Here, November 29, 2018 — January 26, 2019
Art Miami, Catherine Edelman Gallery, December 4-9, 2018
About-Face, San Diego Art Institute, San Diego, CA, April 21, 2018 — June 3, 2018
Once Upon a Body, Art Produce, San Diego, CA, November, 2017
SF Camerawork, Portraiture as Activism, October 14, 2020
Medium Photo REMIX, August 22, 2020
Museum of African Diaspora (MoAD). In the Artist’s Studio. July 1, 2020
San Diego State University, February 14, 2019
Art Institute of California, San Diego, February 11, 2019
Open Show, San Diego #7, February 8, 2018
Salt and Sugar Productions From Haarlem to Harlem (short film about The Golden Age)
Catherine Edelman Gallery Artist Talk: Artist Talk: How do you see me? 2018
Catherine Edelman Gallery Cyclops: Alanna Airitam answers James Lipton’s 10 questions
More in Common Podcast: Alanna Airitam. There is Fear or There is Love. Episode 26
Diffusion Annual: Poignant Portfolios no. 7: Alanna Airitam
Lenscratch, June 29, 2018: Alanna Airitam: The Golden Age
Passion Plan Podcast: Episode 21 Interview with Fine Art Photographer, Alanna Airitam
Don’t Take Pictures: July 12th, 2018
San Diego Union Tribune: Inspired by people and a need to see herself represented
Keep The Channel Open: Podcast Episode 65
Humble Arts Foundation: Alanna Airitam Reframes The Golden Age
San Diego CityBeat: Alanna Airitam Shines in The Golden Age
#Photography: 5th Anniversary Women’s Edition