Power Geometry at Orange Door, 2015–16

Fall 2015 – Summer 2016

This thematic exhibition begins with the fact that geometric shapes have visual power, but it does not end there. The phrase Power Geometry, adapted from globalism studies, is based on the premise that artists have the power to maneuver cultural narratives into visual form. Geometric abstraction, as a picture making strategy, is often imbued with histories of social rescue and resistance, under the cover of symbolic shapes and colors. This exhibition serves to illuminate the embedded social, political, cultural and historical narratives that drive abstract picture structures. Power Geometry draws from the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation’s collection of mid-century abstract painting and contemporary digital art. The Foundation’s holdings, diverse and international in scope, provide an opportunity to rethink traditional themes in art.

Some of the social histories ingrained in the abstract artworks include Frank Stella’s conceptual appropriation of a destroyed Polish synagogue into his monumental shaped canvas for the Polish Village series; John McLaughlin’s inspiration from Zen Buddhism to create minimalist visual statements; and Judy Chicago’s feminist borrowing of a historically male-dominated craft, autobody spraypaint, in order to shift gender dynamics in the art world. These and other examples highlight the ways that artists advocate for social awareness through their chosen media.

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