by Matthew Kangas
SENSE US 2020
ArtXchange Gallery, Seattle. To Apr 25
With the US census more controversial than ever because of the Trump administration attempting to force declared immigration status as an official question, artists are responding aggressively in this exhibition, which stresses the contributions of immigrants past and present. Intimately tied to voting blocs in some cases historically overlooked or suppressed, the census is reflected here in art by 27 individuals who have traveled from countries as diverse and distant as Cuba, India, China, Japan, Vietnam and Russia.
IN PLAIN SIGHT
Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle. To Apr 26
New senior curator Shamim M. Momin has drawn on national and international connections with 14 older and younger artists attuned to social concerns that are revealed slowly and gradually in paintings, performances, installations, video and sculptures. Off-campus sites are also employed to play up the exhibition title. Shape-shifting from conventional painting to gigantic video installations, the survey displays how political issues can be presented obliquely and still make their point with great clarity and thoughtfulness.
Davidson Galleries, Seattle. Apr 3 – May 30
The mezzotint is a print medium using strong black-and-white contrasts. The word means “halftone.” Invented by a German soldier in the 17th century and adopted by royal hobbyists, among others, the mezzotint uses a copper plate that has been scratched all over by a “rocker” tool, making the ground print dark black. Artists scrape into this darkness to reveal imagery. A celebrated regular event among print collectors, this invitational includes contemporary artists from the US, Japan and Europe.
RAJAA GHARBI: CAULDRON DELIGHTS
Gallery 110, Seattle. May 7 – 30
Better known as a poet outside the US, Rajaa Gharbi is widely published in Europe and North Africa. The Tunisian-American artist’s Pioneer Square solo debut typifies her preoccupation with the interface of Arabic calligraphy and organic natural imagery. Apprenticed as a young woman with a traditional puppet theatre troupe, she had to learn everything: painting, sculpture, shape and pattern. Gharbi is included in numerous surveys of African diaspora artists.
HUMAIRA ABID: SCULPTURE
Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle. May 7 – Jun 27
Following her acclaimed 2018 Bellevue Arts Museum exhibition, Humaira Abid continues her exploration of handmade “relics” related to immigration and refugees. Drawing upon efforts of studio artisans in her native Pakistan, the Renton, Wash., resident turns everyday objects into loaded symbolic sculptures. Besides installations, her new series, Tempting Eyes, addresses women in repressive Muslim societies learning how to drive. She has also exhibited in Malaysia, Kenya and Nepal.