The engine of our economy is fueled by personal and public debt. Credit card bills and student loans weigh heavily on many, and often accrue at interest rates too exorbitant ever to pay off. Mortgages have been extended to people who don't earn enough to cover their costs. And the federal budget is paid by loans from foreign creditors.
Psychologically, the dynamic too often is similar. We over-invest in others - parents, lovers, heroes, and icons - and expect the same in return. We make impossible demands, and suffer the inevitable disappointment of impossible expectations.
But debt entails more than burdens. We owe others also for their support and inspiration, for the lessons they teach and the pleasures they provide us. What we borrow often sustains us, gives us hope, or becomes the basis for self-invention. What we take from our predecessors situates us historically, orienting us in our pursuits and providing us with a sense of our place in the world. And our indebtedness can fill us with gratitude.
We valorize autonomy. But what about the debts we owe to others - are they sources of strength or debilitating? Do they arouse appreciation or shame? What do they reveal about our needs and limitations? What do they say about dependency, guilt, inheritance, and history?
For its fourth annual juried exhibition, MISSION 17 invited submissions of works that, in one way or another, consider the nature of debt.