The Samford Art Gallery is currently displaying “The Dream Deferred,” a printmaking portfolio exchange that features the work of 31 diverse artists from across the United States and Puerto Rico responding to racial inequality in America.
The title of the collection, “The Dream Deferred” was drawn from the poem “Harlem” by Langston Hughes, linking the sentiments of Hughes’ composition to the current issues of racial inequality faced today. More specifically, the exhibition aims to respond to the killing of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement.
Co-organizer of the collection and Samford professor Geoff Sciacca, expounded upon the mission of “The Dream Deferred.”
“The goal was to collect a diverse group of artists to respond to racial injustice and inequality in America using the visual communication of their specific media of printmaking, and to in turn, use that resulting body of work as a catalyst for much-needed discourse around the exhibition,” Sciacca said.
Because printmaking allows for multiple copies of the same work of art to be produced, printmakers often collaborate with one another through portfolio exchanges. Portfolio exchanges give artists the opportunity to work in a consistent size, create multiple prints equal to the number of artists in the exchange, and share those prints with one another. The organizer of the portfolio exchange gathers the prints and sends the full set to all contributors, so that each artist has the full collection in their possession.
“I’ve always felt that printmaking was a means of art making that is very democratic and approachable, and those were both characteristics that I would want to describe this work,” Sciacca said. “By making The Dream Deferred a portfolio exchange first, we created the opportunity to potentially have as many shows as there are artists in the exchange.”
Currently, “The Dream Deferred” has three shows on display at the Samford University Art Gallery, the Jacksonville State University Art Gallery and the Blanc Gallery in Chicago, Illinois, with five others planned for the near future.
Sciacca hopes that “The Dream Deferred” and the issues it addresses strikes a wide range of viewers in a multitude of ways.
“I genuinely believe that art can be a tool for social change; and while I don’t expect anybody to walk out of the gallery a different person, I hope that the things that they see and experience will plant a seed that grows into conversations, both internal and external,” Sciacca said. “The show has voices that represent Black, White, Latinx and Iranian perspectives and experiences. There’s hurt, anger, confusion, compassion and brokenness in the form of ink on paper, and I can only hope that the experience of engaging with this work will be impactful, in some way, for our viewers.”
“The Dream Deferred” will be on display until Oct. 5 at the Samford University Art Gallery. Although the gallery is not open to the public due to COVID-19, Samford students and staff can visit the exhibit during the week.