The Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery’s “RECKONING” showcases over 60 works in response to the social conflicts of the past year.
The gallery is both in-person and online. Thematically it frames the brutal fight against injustice with the beauty and appreciation of humanity. “Marsha P. Johnson: The Queen That Helped Pave The Way” — a traditional drawing, outlined in ink and colored with markers on a bristol board — captures the integrity and glowing spirit of trans activist Marsha P. Johnson.
Kevin Enrique Tabora is a non-binary senior Studio Art Major at Stony Brook University and made “Marsha P. Johnson: The Queen That Helped Pave The Way” to extend the feeling of welcoming, happiness and pride.
“Not only as an artist, you should take pride in your work,” Tabora said. “But as a person, you should take pride in who you are.”
Tabora’s work frames Marsha P. Johnson smiling brilliantly in her normal clothing, draped by the pride flag in the background. The piece bursts with color and features Johnson’s signature flower headpiece.
“The headpiece represents the natural side of being within the LGBQTA+ community,” Tabora said. “It is also very colorful and stands out the most.”
Tabora picked Marsha P. Johnson for her historical significance, widely known for her role at the Stonewall riots and as an advocate for transgender youth. Tabora says Marsha P. Johnson is the best choice to not only represent the transgender people, but the entire LGBTQA+ community.
The gallery also features politically motivated works of art like “Patriot Act” — a 2 year-long multimedia live-video production featuring the audience as a part of the artwork itself.
Joseph Kattou, 23, and a Fine Arts Graduate at the Stony Brook University Graduate School of Arts, created this production to capture the audience within the piece. In the gallery, a viewer’s silhouette is projected into the video and the production tracks your movement in relation to the screen.
“So the viewer is the one that is obscuring the events and text on screen with their own body,” Kattou said. “The audience’s physical self is made more visible with the American flag wrapping around in such a way that they are censoring themselves from the realities on screen.”
Kattou says this production is just as much a technology demonstration as it is art. He says this footage serves as a mirror, such that the average person can see the injustice for themselves. He compiled his footage from personal videos from associates of police brutality across the country this year and newsreels from Global News.
“I wanted a wide breadth of footage to show that this is happening to everyday people,” Kattou said. “This is to show that this is an across the board social issue that is being brought to a head.”
Kattou says his work is influenced by notions of equality, equity and accountability. As a mixed Latino, much of Kattou’s work is influenced by his Puerto Rican heritage and respect for his Black and Brown loved ones in his community. However, Kattou says his work is more universal than that.
“The point of my work is to make the viewer think that they shouldn’t need to have these personal connections to care about these issues and see reality.” Kattou said.
Kattou acknowledges that the fight for social justice and equality is not new, and is not going anywhere. In a production where the viewer obscures the horror on screen, Kattou says the title of the Gallery, “RECKONING,” is only considered as such, “because this year they were unable to look away.”
Ultimately, Kattou says his work is about holding the average person accountable and finding out where they fit within the structure. He asks if the viewer is embodying the ideals of American liberty, justice and equality, or are they embodying the ideals of American suppression and oppression?
“I want everyone to confront themselves on where you stand in this system,” Kattou said. “Or are you upholding the systems of oppression or are you out there attempting to dismantle oppression and be anti-racist.”
The gallery teems with other politically motivated works like Melissa Mazza’s “Untitled 14” which features a reverse American flag with a shattered glass effect where the stars should’ve been. The painting is in black and white, save for the ruby-red blood splattered across. The poem “A Queer Prayer” by A Genderfluid Ace explores themes of acceptance, love and appreciation.
This gallery is a product of its time, and in a time where a pandemic rages worldwide and social unrest continues, the gallery does well at capturing the emotions and ideas that humanity has shared in the past year.
The Gallery “RECKONING” will continue to be on display online until March 1st.