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Bernie Sanders, Flint, War & Other Social Issues Explored by NKY Artsist at SOS

If you’re a supporter of peace and justice issues, a fan of Cincinnati Fringe or both – check out the annual SOS Art show from May 27 through June 5 at Art Academy of Cincinnati, and look for the work of veteran and debuting Northern Kentucky artists on exhibit.

SOS, now in its 14th edition, isn’t just a massive gallery show. The 10-day arts event/call-to-peace, justice and community includes a documentary screening and discussion ("The end of poverty?" by Philippe Diaz), performances, poetry readings, a panel discussion ("Dream and Reality: Immigrants in the US") – even a closing night potluck dinner.

SOS Art founder and director Saad Ghosn quotes historian, writer, and activist Howard Zinn as an inspiration: “I suggest to artists who may hesitate to connect their art with the critical issues of our time - war, poverty, inequality - that there is a long and noble tradition, going back to the Greek playwrights, of art being used in the service of human rights.

“I would hope also that it might inspire political activists to begin to use their imagination to lend a kind of artistic power to their political activity.”

Several Northern Kentucky artists, many of whom have participated in SOS Art for years, have never hesitated to connect their art with society’s critical issues.

Subjects trending in SOS Art 2016 are refugees, current politics and elections, immigration, police violence, the environment, women’s rights.

Here’s what some local artists are thinking and creating:

Barbara Ahlbrand of Alexandria contributes oil on canvas Anamorphosis. “My painting depicts a suited figure in a grid format,” and quotes author Lawrence Wright. “We prefer an ordered world, regular patterns, familiar terms and when flaws or distortions occur, provided they are not too gross, our mind's eye tidies them up. We see what we want or expect to see..."

Alexandria’s Halena Cline offers mixed media work Book of Innocents. “My piece intends to communicate the different influences or actions of society on young minds, and how these children react or process these influences; also to encourage viewers to stretch their senses of vision that would include their personal environment and how they are affected and react to the many challenges they encounter.”

Northern Kentucky University 2016 grad Tyler Gray features three sculptures, all of them looking at aspects of this election year and the attitudes of American voters and all intended to “entertain the viewer while at the same time portraying events currently unfolding in the American society.”

Longtime Enquirer photographer and Newport resident Michael Keating shows two photos, Child’s Play (a camouflage-clad elementary school student playfully shoots fellow students with a toy gun) and Hungry Eyes (a child sips liquefied apple sauce from a plastic container provided by a summer reading program).

Sarah Kendall (NKU ’16) uses two hand-crocheted works to address sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse.

Covington’s Jackie Slone’s mixed media works address themes of substance abuse, elephant poaching, alcoholism, and war.

Florence resident Anthony Stolling shows acrylic Making Money Work for You. “My painting shows how people use money to survive, bring home groceries” – and how easy or difficult that can be.

Jim Shupert of Ft. Mitchell takes a hard look at the water disaster in Flint, Michigan with a pair of pencil ad computer drawings. The Guardian Enters Flint/The Guardian Removes from Flint consider the human condition of being largely comprised of water -- ”and therefore people have the same property rights and responsibility over waters outside their physical person as within their physical person.”

Dana Tindall of Ft. Wright uses repeated images in acrylic on mixed media Middle. “I tend to view justice as being basic fairness between all concerned parties. Consequently, it really becomes about compromise, where no one gets exactly what they want but can live and even thrive with what they have.”

Union’s Carolyn Stewart celebrates Peaceful Heroes: Gandhi in collage. “What draws me to Gandhi is his focus on truth and nonviolence… Most striking to me is the way he always went inside himself to clarify and reconcile his belief system with his actions. His focus on the personal inspired a nation to seek right/just nonviolent action.”

Northern Kentucky native, visual artist and graphic designer Carole Winters shows a pair of prints on themes of war, noting that she is continuing an historic tradition using etchings to comment on war.

Her entries are The Pandora’s Box and Masters of War (which references Bob Dylan’s 1963 lyrics: “Come you masters of war, You that build the big guns, You that build the death planes, You that build all the bombs, You that hide behind walls, You that hide behind desks, I just want you to know, I can see through your masks.”)

SOS Art, May 27-June 5, The Art Academy of Cincinnati, 1212 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine. Gallery hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-12 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 12-6 p.m. Sunday. Find a complete schedule of events at Facebook.

Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts

Images provided

Slideshow Images & Captions: 
Pandora's Box (Carole Winters)