Dirt, the unclean stuff that gets under your nails, also inspires art. “DIRT: Yuta Suelo Udongo Tè” is a group exhibition curated by artist Onajide Shabaka featuring many South Florida artists. The exhibition will be on view at the University Galleries, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton campus from Friday, Jan. 22 to Saturday, March 5, 2016. An opening reception will be in the Ritter Art Gallery on Saturday, Jan. 23 at 6:30 p.m.
The exhibition title refers to the different ways that diverse cultures interpret dirt, not only physically, but also spiritually and symbolically. The exhibition includes site-specific installations, sculpture, photography, paintings, drawings and mixed-media works. The inspiration for this exhibition dates to 1999 when artist and curator Onajide Shabaka visited Ely, Minn. Attracted to the area’s vibrant red oxide dirt, Shabaka saw a connection between it and elements of the West African Yoruba religion, particularly the deity Orisha Oggun, the god of minerals associated with iron and industry. Shabaka’s subsequent research led to his recognition that responses to dirt vary widely across the world.
“We are excited to present this exhibition about DIRT to the South Florida community,” said Rod Faulds, director of the University Galleries at FAU. “Investigating how diverse cultures interpret this fundamental substance aligns with our mission here at the University Galleries, where we seek to understand differing points of view through art. We are also pleased to support South Florida artists, particularly Onajide Shabaka, who has long been a stalwart of the area’s art community.”
Artists in the exhibition include Dona Altemus; Robert Chambers; William Cordova; Edouard Duval Carrié; Veronica Scharf Garcia; Mark Hahn; Alette Simmons Jimenez; Kim Nicolini; Lori Nozick; David Rohn; Ralph Provisero; Yanira Collado; Debra Wilk and Jovan Karlo Villalba.
There will be a public program to complement the exhibition on Thursday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. It will include a panel discussion which will include Edward Petuch, Ph.D., FAU professor of geology, along with a series of readings by writers and poets John Dufresne, Elizabeth Jacobson and Geoffrey Philp, and the FAU creative writing team who have focused on the topic of dirt. The discussion will be organized by award-winning poet Michael Hettich. For more information and a full schedule of events, call the University Galleries at 561-297-2661 or visit www.fau.edu/galleries.
The exhibition and programs are made possible by grants from State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; Cultural Council of Palm Beach County; Beatrice Cummings Mayer and R.A. Ritter Foundation. Museum Education and AMP Programs made possible by Kaye Arts Integration Endowment and a grant from the Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties.