Summer art exhibits to catch at ASU

As summer blazes on, ASU is offering a cool escape and unique visual experience in the confines of its free summer art galleries.

ASU holds multiple exhibitions throughout the year, and the sweltering summer is no exception with “Family Matters” at the ASU Art Museum in Tempe and “State of Exception” at the Combine Studios in downtown Phoenix.

“Family Matters” is an exploration of what components make up a modern family. It has pieces in all different mediums from artists spanning the globe, presenting everything from sculpture to printmaking to photography.

The exhibit is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. until August 1.

This diverse collection of pieces dates from the 1700’s to present, and it boasts names as big as Andy Warhol, who has a small diptych of family portraits on display in the gallery.

Whether depicting a pet and its owner, a typical nuclear family or a group of friends, the common thread tying each of the works together is the strong sense of warmth and community.

This expansive definition of family is described in a statement on the gallery wall, which states “What is important is that a group of individuals define themselves as part of a family.”

The gallery provides an interactive experience for visitors and their families as well, with a selfie-station designed to take family portraits and hopscotch, chalkboards and story books spread around the room to express the importance of parents playing with their children.

This colorful and unique exhibit provides a modern look at family life and bears a strong sense of the open-mindedness towards relationships that is becoming more prevalent throughout society.

Open to the public Fridays and Saturdays, noon through 6 p.m. until August 8, “State of Exception” is a raw, earthy collection of pieces that tell the heart-wrenching stories of immigrants crossing the Nogales border.

The exhibit is a project with the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities, where it debuted in January 2013.

Artist Richard Barnes, and curator Amanda Krugliak created installations with items shed by immigrants and collected at the border by anthropologist Jason De León for his research project “An Exhibition of the Undocumented Migration Project.”

The name “State of Exception” is a reference to the political theory outlined by Carl Schmitt and elaborated upon by Giorgio Agamben that is described in the booklet that accompanies the exhibit. It says “the process whereby sovereign authorities declare emergencies, often with the stated goal to protect the state, in order to suspend the legal protections afforded to individuals while simultaneously unleashing the power of the state upon them.”

While touching on aspects of anthropology and politics, the exhibit still manages to maintain an approachable, personal quality that makes it truly unique.

Visitors tour the gallery to the sound of an audio installation documenting interviews held with immigrants who attempted to cross the border, successfully or not.

The installations are combined with photos and videos documenting the area surrounding the border, and each bears a narrative quality with a deep sense of emotional grit.

The photographs on display, which are a mix of professional shots by Richard Barnes and shots taken with disposable cameras by immigrants themselves throughout their experience crossing the border, are all united by their raw nature.

The exhibit is a fresh look at anthropology with an intimate, emotional quality that draws viewers in and gives them a glimpse into a way of life most will never experience.

The gallery is more than worth a visit, and questions are welcomed for those who wish to learn more about the project and the lives of the immigrants it documents.

Reach the reporter at icastil3@asu.edu or follow @isabella_m_cast on twitter

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