Book Art About Ancestry, Identity and our Personal Cultural Narrative
November 6 - December 19, 2015 23 Sandy Gallery Portland, Oregon
About BLOOD QUANTUM
Blood Quantum is a concept that refers to the degree of ancestry for an individual of a specific racial or ethnic group such as Native Americans. This concept leads to thinking about ancestry, identity, heritage, family history and personal cultural narrative. Artist books, as multi-surfaced and textural objects, are a perfect medium to explore such complex and powerful topics. Artists responded to our call with deeply felt, thoughtful works—at once celebration, remembrance and reflection.
During a brainstorming session a couple of years ago, the Blood Quantum concept was suggested by Erin Mickelson, 23 Sandy’s long-time, beloved, and recently relocated gallery assistant. Erin’s ancestry is Native American, yet she feels “whole, halved, and halved again” as the last generation with a high enough blood quantum for tribal membership. Her multi-media book work in the show attempts to preserve her tribe’s language while also creating a history for her son. We are grateful for her voice and for the voice of every single artist who created heartfelt, personal work for this show. Thank you all.
Thank you as well to Robert Gore for his help jurying this exhibition. His experienced, reasoned and nuanced appreciation for artist books and their many incarnations made for a very smart, cohesive show.
BLOOD QUANTUM • Juror statement
Blood Quantum is a concept that helps to generate discussion about many things. It helps us to look at our own ancestry, the ancestry of others, and encourages awareness and dialogue about issues that can be difficult or uplifting, disquieting, very personal, and sometimes brutal and tragic. Where we come from and where we are now is central to the great variety of expression we find here, and the diversity of approaches in content and book structure is not surprising given the wide span of engagement we see in these works.
To name a few places, in the course of this show you will travel with the artists to Latin America, Russia, France, Poland, Hawaii, China, Chile, Tennessee, Appalachia, Canada, India, South Korea, Virginia, Norway, Mexico, and the Cherokee, Nuxalk, and Oneida Nations.
Thematically diverse, Blood Quantum weaves together stories of displacement, exile and disappearance, racial inequality, the loss and retention of language, resistance and repression, memory and the loss of memory, women in both historical and contemporary contexts, rediscovery, religion, and cultural and artistic identity. There is a sense running throughout all the work of a need to know more about the past and a desire to bring the past into the present.
Personal narratives weave in and out much of the work on display in Blood Quantum. Courage is a word that comes to mind when thinking about many of the pieces. Experiencing stories told from a variety of perspectives is one of the most powerful aspects of the show.
We learn by viewing and experiencing the world through the eyes of others. As Angela Davis has said, “We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.” It is my hope that looking at the work in Blood Quantum will help us to do this.
It was a great privilege to review the work submitted to Blood Quantum. I congratulate all the participants!
Robert Gore is the Visual Arts Librarian and curator of the artists’ book collection in the UCLA Arts Library. Robert holds a Master’s degree in Library Science from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Also active as a poet, his poems have appeared in Canadian Literature, Prism International, Contemporary Verse 2, Event, Grain, Arc, and other literary journals. In2002 Frog Hollow Press published his chapbook The Code Between Us. He has exhibited his photographs at Presentation House Gallery, Artspeak, Artropolis, and other venues. Raven in the Palm Tree, a collaborative work with book artist Lauren Dudley, was included in the exhibition Uncommon Threads at 23 Sandy Gallery in 2011.
This exhibition features the following artists: Camila Araya, Marisol Ardon, Alicia Bailey, Anita Bigelow, Abigail Boroughs, Jess Buckley, Ginger Burrell, Rebecca Chamlee, MalPina Chan, Lucy Childs, Kyle Anthony Clark, Guylaine Couture, Amanda D'Amico, Mari Eckstein Gower, Colette Fu, Patricia Grass, Roni Gross, Malini Gupta, Katie Nelson Harper, Jihae Kwon, Leslie Marsh, Erin Mickelson, Allison Leialoha Milham, Birgit Nielsen, Jeff Nilan, Barry O'Keefe, Renée Owen, Bettina Pauly, Dr. Bob Pliny, Daniela Ragan, Anita Rankin, John Retallack, Mado Reznik, Matt Runkle, Dina Scheel, Kristin Serafini, Kristin Serafini, Krista Sharp, Lynn Skordal, Priscilla Spitler, Cindy Steiler, Sha Towers, Hidde Van Duym, Elsi Vassdal Ellis, Ines von Ketelhodt, Zoe Waller, Laurie Weiss, Ellen Ziegler, Karen Zimmermann