August 2, 2018-September 2018
Becoming American is the first annual exhibition project of cefalonia. A non-profit organization dedicated to bringing international contemporary art to the Pacific Northwest through site-specific projects, the organization was founded by architect Aaron Bush, artist Cat Clifford, and curator Fionn Meade. Taking its name from the birthplace of Juan de Fuca (b. 1536 as Ioannis Phokas on the Ioanian island of Kefalonia), cefalonia is committed to working with artists and locales that reveal issues of ecology and the socio-political climate of our time while promoting public discourse through the presentation of challenging art.
About the exhibition
Exploring how artists engage the ongoing challenges of American iconography, identity, history, and formal inheritances, Becoming American is an international group exhibition taking place on the grounds of the American and English camps on San Juan Island, WA, and satellite venues in the city of Seattle.
The exhibition ranges from commissions responsive to the layered dynamics of the primary venue—including the park’s history as a traditional home to Coastal Salish people, the location of the last territorial dispute between the United States and Great Britain, its imminent proximity to Canada, and exceptional natural beauty—to works across media that delve into and question the perhaps permanently contested, never-to-be-resolved nature of the larger understanding of the Americas.
Literal and conceptual borders alike are pushed via moving image, painting, sculpture, photography, textile, and sound and performance works that open up the provocation and prompt of the exhibition’s title to multiple readings. Animating the architecture of extant buildings—comprised of preserved storehouse, barracks, blockhouse and hospital structures, Becoming American extends its reach into group and solo presentations in Seattle to create a call and response between rural and urban contexts.
With immersive installations and key historical works presented alongside artist texts and performative gesture, the exhibition underscores an ongoing inquiry and transitive approach to themes of race, gender, place, and cultural heritage embedded within the larger practices of contributing artists. Actively rehearsing, analyzing, and playing with ideological stances and narrative, the works on view encourage audiences to engage and reflect upon the uneasy imaginary of what it means to strive toward becoming American today. —FM
Satellite venues in the city of Seattle include Specialist, located in Pioneer Square, studio e, in Georgetown, and additional locations.