By Cole Tracy
Chestnut Hill, MA – Arriving at Pine Minor was a shock, finding such a beautiful place in proximity to Boston, I felt like a man in the desert arriving upon an oasis, after my long bike over. The Quaint campus was very tight-knit; the security guard was surprised and inquisitive at finding an outsider.
In the central hall of the library is a small gallery space; the art is not representative of the small peaceful place surrounding it. Within this utopian-esque campus is an art show addressing very real topics: Chawky Frenn’s “We The People” is based around social justice, the point he is getting across is honest and bold, the issues addressed seem more pertinent than the art itself.
With over a page long artist’s statement declaring what the painter’s political viewpoint is and his desire to fix the broken system. He addresses the disappearance of Democracy within a so-called free state, our reliance on debt and war, how few rich people run the country, for their own benefits. He takes the constitution as a starting point for these collages, and shows remnants of many of the mistakes America has made over the years.
Crying children from foreign lands, mourning mothers, dead bodies wrapped in American flags, and piles of shoes from those who have died in a war. Many of the images relate directly to a specific event in our past, a pale child standing in front of the burning Twin Towers was one of the most evocative images within the show.
Accompanying each of these paintings is a quote from politicians, and several famous writers, which all deal with basic American concepts such as our rights, freedom, and the path America is currently on.
One piece constitutes three monkeys in different poses (see no evil speak no evil hear no evil) sitting in front of the capitol building. This points to the governments turning a blind eye upon it’s duties. From the unfair violence at Abu Ghraib that went unpunished to our discreet involvement in the Guatemalan genocide Frenn successfully makes allusions to many atrocious events in our past through one evocative image.
The comment is pessimistic, for a good reason. It is more than just a condemnation, for it is open to interpretation and directly implicates the viewer to consider the didactic state of our nation. Frenn looks at the ideals which our nation were built around, unfalteringly points out the hypocrisy of our modern existence, in hope of change.
Frenn’s art is highly charged and deals with concepts as far spanning as wars, gay marriage, and our reliance in oil; Frenn is unafraid to approach controversial topics to point out where we are at fault.
The show is truly a means to an end; it is a plea for us to return to those ideals that we the people have drawn up, that we demand as Americans. It is evident that Frenn is fed up with citizens standing by and watching politicians and corrupt businessmen run our country into moral bankruptcy. By putting these scenes on a document, which stand for America’s values in its birth, the images hold us accountable for the current state of our country. The work cries for change, and asks the viewer for collaboration; to change the way things are and be an activist for our rights.