Both Sides of the River

Both Sides of the River

Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art at James Madison University

February 10, 2023
Both Sides of the River
January 31–March 18, 2023
Healing as World Building : February 21, 6–7pm
Artist talk with Sara Favriau: February 28, 1–2pm
Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art at James Madison University
820 S Main St
Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807
United States
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The Duke Gallery of Fine Art at James Madison University is pleased to announce the opening of its new exhibition, Both Sides of the River. Drawing on the importance of river ecologies as corridors that connect vast and biodiverse spaces, this exhibition points to new future worlds in which rivers are not resources to be consumed or threats requiring management. Increasingly, rivers around the world are gaining legal status that recognizes their bio-cultural rights to be free from pollution, riverbank deforestation, and other destruction. Yet these rights, hard-won by many indigenous communities and activists for whom these rivers are sacred, can only be fulfilled if new political and cultural systems arise to sustain them. The artists presented in Both Sides of the River challenge us with new creative ecologies and new vistas to future sustaining relationships.

Carolina Caycedo, Sara Favriau, Marcos Ávila Forero, Mary Mattingly, and Kosmologym address issues of our climate crisis via approaches informed by decolonial ecology, the environmental humanities, and the wisdom of First Nations’ careful stewardship of the environment. As both liquid and land, rivers are spaces of transition and metaphors for a just transition away from racial capitalism and extractive colonialism. From the gundalow boat created by Kosmologym which transforms the gallery floor into the banks of the Shenandoah River to the tradition of water drumming presented by Marco Avila Forero, we are immersed in river worlds that invite our protection, transformation, and imagination.

Carolina Caycedo’s A Gente Rio considers the bio-cultural devastation caused by several river dams across South America while Mary Mattingly’s series of photographs Pipelines under Permafrost traverse sites of ecological devastation and honor the activists and water protectors who resist their destruction. In her video une pelouse perçante, plus forte qu’un rocher, Sara Favriau considers multiple aspects of the hydrologic cycle by carving fallen drought-stricken trees into a canoe and wooden pavilion, both of which she sails along bodies of water, including the Garonne River in Bordeaux.  Together, these artists craft new river literacies (da Cunha, The Invention of Rivers) needed to build future worlds beyond the climate chaos deemed inevitable by our current social and political systems.

Both Sides of the River is supported by the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the School of Art, Design, and Art History at James Madison University and by a generous grant from Etant donnés Contemporary Art, a program of Villa Albertine and FACE Foundation, in partnership with the French Embassy of the United States, with support from the French Ministry of Culture, Institut français, Ford Foundation, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, CHANEL, and ADAGP. We would like to thank Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles and LMNO, Brussels for their generous loans to the exhibition.

Upcoming events
Healing as World Building: February 21, 6–7pm
A conversation featuring Beth Roach, Director of the Clean Water Program at the Sierra Club, Co-founder of Alliance of Native Seedkeepers, and indigenous water storyteller; Jori Erdman, Professor of Architectural Design at James Madison University.

Online artist talk with Sara Favriau: February 28, 1–2pm
Join the Duke Hall Gallery for an artist talk with Paris-based artist Sara Favriau. Register here.

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Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art at James Madison University
February 10, 2023

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