As fellow inhabitants of the earth, we are united by the shared conditions of our humanity. Through portraiture and the figure, artists explore the notion of individual identity and the commonality of our human nature.
Embedded in the images in this exhibition is a wide range of content, from social commentary to existential lament, from homages to fallen heroes to explorations of gender. For example, Hung Liu’s painting Resident Alien (1988) resembles a huge green card issued by the U.S. Department of Immigration and Naturalization. The artist depicted herself in the guise of a stereotype, a “typical” immigrant from China, and further drove home her point by naming her fictionalized self “Cookie, Fortune.” Salomón Huerta took a less direct approach in his 2007 painting Untitled (Head), in which he depicted a dark-skinned man’s closely shaved head seen from the back against a vibrant pink background. In Huerta’s hands, character can be determined not just by a face but within the details we do not usually notice. He explained: “My goal was to do a portrait detached from the viewer so he can search for some kind of connection. You don’t have the face to instantly leave a visual or emotional connection. Also, I didn’t give away my own identity. Disguising the sitter, I also disguise myself.”
The exhibition also includes works by Benny Andrews, Robert Arneson, Robbie Conal, Binh Danh, Stephen De Staebler, Chitra Ganesh, Edward Hopper, Bari Kumar, Vik Muniz, and Allison Saar. These artists transform figurative art to touch on truths and ideas that define our shared humanity.