What is and is not an altar? What are the ways today’s artists use altars to give form to faith and heritage, and what are the ways artistic altars are breaking from tradition and religion?
Art of Offering is a proposed exhibition of contemporary altars made by artists across cultures, spiritual traditions, and art forms. Spanning genres from conceptual art, sculpture, assemblage, and curating to performance, Art of Offering probes the role, boundaries, and purposes of altars in the art world today. In a world where art, beauty, spirituality, culture, and wellness are so often commodified and appropriated Art of Offering seeks to highlight some of the more essential, connective facets of contemporary aestheticism: the art and practice of homage, ritual, migration, sympathy, resistance, and memory.
Drawing on the curatorial work of Jill Ahlberg Yohe and Teri Greeves and the precedence they set in Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists in 2019, the exhibition presents each work as an active participant in a social world. My curatorial goal is to provoke consideration of these altars in relation to human experience, each with a specific affective power. Items in an altar installation are simultaneously objects, codes, symbols, and portals. When assembling an altar, material is used to reciprocally point elsewhere and bring intangible worlds beyond into the present moment. Recognizing this multiplicity helps to reminds us that identity is entangled with objects, places, and beliefs that evolve with us.