Richard Kamler is a crusader for peace and the universality of humanity with socially-engaged art. Much of his most powerful work, spanning four decades, consists of sculptural installations in and about prisons. This exhibition presents remnants of those installations as well as installations advocating for freedom for all people.
Among the pieces featured at PMA will be Waiting Room: Last Meals, an installation of lead cafeteria trays depicting the pizza, onion rings, pie, etc. consumed by death row inmates before their executions, in addition to an empty tray symbolizing those who decline to eat. The piece challenges the viewer to consider the common choices we share with those leading uncommon lives. Other work addresses the points of view of the victims of violent crime.
Also for display is a photograph of Make Bread Not Bombs, an enormous 'loaf of bread' Kamler created to tow around the San Francisco Bay during Fleet Week in 1995. His intention was to point out ecological damage to the Bay by the U.S. Navy and the damage to our planet by nuclear testing.
Quotes from the artist:
“This idea that art can engage in worldly affairs, ‘can change the laws of the world,’ is what has driven my work these past 40 years. That art is a catalyst for social change and cultural transformation.”
“When my son was young, 2 or 3, and the socializing process of saying “no” was beginning to lock in (we all know that process; don’t touch this, you’ll burn yourself; don’t throw food; etc.), well, I began to feel bad about this. So one morning, on the ceiling of his room, as big as possible, I painted the word, “YES.” YES!! So, that when he woke, the first thing he saw, was YES! YES! YES! I practice art to say YES!”
About Richard Kamler
Long time artist/activist/curator/educator Richard Kamler has been making socially-engaged art since 1976 when he made his first major installation, “Out of Holocaust,” a full size reconstructed section of one of the barracks from the Auschwitz Death Camp. Since that time his public installations, audio pieces, actions and events, drawings, sculptures, and public presentations have dealt with a range of social, cultural, political and environmental considerations and have been exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Kamler approaches his practice from the premise that art is, and can be, a catalyst for engagement.
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