The Metamorphosis: An Exhibition Statement From Curator Morgan Laurens

The Metamorphosis: An Exhibition Statement From Curator Morgan Laurens cover

In 1945, George Orwell penned perhaps the most famous allegorical work of the modern world. As scathing political satire, little else compares to Animal Farm. Its biting critique of post-revolutionary Russia pierces through the novella’s simple farmyard premise with cutting clarity, ultimately transcending its original political inspiration. Like allegorical works before it—Aesop’s Fables, The Scarlet Letter, “Leda and the Swan”—Animal Farm uses symbolism to convey complicated ideas on the human condition.

Put simply, an allegory is a story within a story. Our fifth exhibition of the year, The Metamorphosis, surveys historical, political, and mythical reinterpretations of classic paintings, fables, stories, and works of literature. From biblical references and Greek mythology to early feminist works and art-world lore, the works in May’s exhibition express multitudes of complex ideas through symbols and narrative storytelling.

View The Metamorphosis via the button below, then scroll down for details about the artists and their work.

Ancient Myths, Folklore, and Spirituality

Our fifth exhibition of 2024, The Metamorphosis, explores the role of allegory in art through contemporary reinterpretations of history, politics, and myth.
‘The Crow and the Swallow’ by Nathalie Tierce

An unnerving fairy tale, Nathalie Tierce’s “The Crow and the Swallow” is inspired by a tale in Aesop’s Fables. “[The] characters’ interactions in these scenes reflect the dark side of human interaction,” Nathalie writes in her artist statement. “Much like Aesop's Fables, these scenes depict the nature of vices rather than teach a moral.”

Regina Argentine’s “Demeter” ties the Greek goddess of agriculture to feminine ideals of rebirth and beauty, while E. E. Kono’s “Comhbhá” marries Eastern and Western mythology in an effort to “ward off inevitable shadows.”

Art History, Philosophy, and Literature

Our fifth exhibition of 2024, The Metamorphosis, explores the role of allegory in art through contemporary reinterpretations of history, politics, and myth.
‘Oath’ by Stacey Nadine Malysh

Inspired by Jacque-Louis David’s “Oath of the Horatii,” Stacey Nadine Malysh’s painting “Oath” contains ideas about “mortality, memory, and the passage of time.” Japanese American artist Izumi Miyazaki imagines brutally destroying the Japanese patriarchy, “a system that has oppressed women […] for centuries.” In “Mother Beheading Japanese Patriarchy,” Izumi picks up where ​​Artemisia Gentileschi left off, translating the Baroque painter’s iconic “Judith Beheading Holofernes” into a feminist story for Asian women. Izumi arms her mother and grandmother with razor-sharp swords, perfect for beheading the patriarchal beast.

Political Powers

Our fifth exhibition of 2024, The Metamorphosis, explores the role of allegory in art through contemporary reinterpretations of history, politics, and myth.
‘Sphinx’ by Michael Caines

Acting as “avatars of our desires,” the animals in Michael Caine’s work are as plump, spoiled, and well-groomed as their aristocratic owners. His paintings are realistic recreations of famous portraits of royals like George I and Louis XIV, works that feel instantly familiar to anyone with a standard Western education. Reconsidering the past by way of the present, Michael’s “Sphinx” strives to “smuggle a sharp point beneath layers of silk and fur.”

Darren Smith tackles red-square politics in his topsy-turvy collage, aptly titled “Red Squared,” while Ghazal Ghazi’s “The History of Power” illuminates contemporary issues facing the Iranian American diaspora.

Sociological Stories and Natural Histories

Our fifth exhibition of 2024, The Metamorphosis, explores the role of allegory in art through contemporary reinterpretations of history, politics, and myth.
‘Mastodon's Natural History’ by Anna Foer

Using images of archeological debris, Anna Foer replicates successive layers of civilization in her collage “Mastodon’s Natural History.” Italian artist Celio Bordin’s mixed-media drawing “Indio and His History” offers a poetic window into the lives of the first peoples of the Americas: “The numerous faces possess distinct characteristics that recall the culture, history, and architecture of ethnic Americans dating back thousands of years,” says Celio. Elsewhere, Benjamin Wright explores the parallels between the arc of human history and the natural history of the bi-lobed coco de mer, commonly known as the “love nut.”

All photos published with permission of the artist(s); featured graphics for The Metamorphosis by David Schwartz.

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curator, curator's statement, first friday exhibitions, group exhibition, online exhibition, The Metamorphosis


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