November 18, 2012

Art Review: Using art as a weapon of conscience


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“The Colonies,” monoprint, by Alan Magee.

Images courtesy of Waterfall Arts

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“Camilo Mejia” by Robert Shetterly.

Additional Photos Below



WHERE: The Clifford Gallery at Waterfall Arts, 256 High St., Belfast

WHEN: Through Wednesday

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday or by appointment

INFO: 338-2222;

Besides the faces -- including the gorgeously bleak giant tapestry "Silence II" -- Magee's works include creepy assemblage pictures in which children's relics such as dolls or a cap gun have been ground into the sandy surface as though made instantly ancient by the vicissitudes of war. He has similar works of bleakly stilted doll-like figures mounted on repurposed panels; these seem to represent the disturbing effects of war on children's souls.

Magee's other main body of work in "The War" includes collaged figures of 1980s Wall Street types in the style of the great political collagist Hannah Hoch. While these seem to lead away from the show's center, they deftly condemn the military agency of corporate America.

"The War" is a genuine achievement, and it's probably something that could have only happened away from Maine's commercial galleries or largest art institutions. The community setting of Waterfall Arts works.

If you admire or doubt the ability of artists to take on difficult questions of societal ethics, you must see this show. The artists' powerful achievement is about something beyond partisan politics: Human morality.

"The War" is an important show which, like its subject, should not be forgotten.

Freelance writer Daniel Kany is an art historian who lives in Cumberland. He can be contacted at:


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Additional Photos

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“Samantha Smith" by Robert Shetterly.

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“Dissent," mixed media by Alan Magee.


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