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“Building Networks of Empathy”

October 26, 2020 @ 11:00 am - December 15, 2020 @ 5:00 pm


The exhibition Building Networks of Empathy is the second of a two-part show that asks us to consider the ways in which art empowers not only the artist, but its viewers to transform their most difficult experiences into enlightened outcomes. The first part of the show is an ongoing online-only exhibition entitled Facing Darkness, which encouraged artists in our community to reflect internally on our current moment of pandemic, isolation, and structural inequity laid bare.

For this second part, which will be physically installed in 18th Street Arts Center’s spacious Airport campus hangar galleries, artists were asked to respond to how they have changed as a result of their inner reflections on darkness, and to imagine new futures and societal structures as we see our way out of crisis. Each artist grapples as well with the role that art can play in social reflection, expression, and cultural paradigm shifts as a result of a deeper understanding of each other, and the empathy that follows. The exhibition sees empathy not only as a way to share and understand what others are going through, but also as a natural and endless resource that we can all rely on when crisis and emergency hit, with hopes that we can turn this moment of collective fear into a sublime experience.

Debra Disman, Chromatic Interactions: The Golden Thread, 2020. File cards, pencils, crayons, thread. Installation. 76 x 90 inches. Photo by Debra Disman. Courtesy of the artist.
Debra Disman, Chromatic Interactions: The Golden Thread, 2020. File cards, pencils, crayons, thread. Installation. 76 x 90 inches.
Photo by Debra Disman. Courtesy of the artist.

“I was commissioned to create an interactive book for Craft Contemporary’s 2017 exhibition, Chapters: Book Arts in Southern California, which opened shortly after the 2016 presidential election. Visitors could choose file cards in an array of colors, draw and write on them, and insert them into the pocketed pages of the book. A range of feelings, responses, and concerns were expressed through the cards, which the Museum Staff saved and gave to me at the end of the show. I stitched them together grouped loosely by theme, to express the network of empathy they depicted, held together by golden thread.”

This exhibition may be viewed by appointment only. Please visit here to sign up to visit the exhibition!

Participating artists include: Alexandra DillonDeborah Lynn IrmasLuigia Gio MartelloniRebecca SetarehM Susan BroussardJulia Michelle DawsonLionel PopkinAmeeta NanjiSiru WenElham SagharchiDebra DismanLuciana AbaitSheila KarbassianDaniela SchweitzerJoan WulfLoren Harris-HellerNung-Hsin Hu, and Susie McKay Krieser.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a live Zoom panel featuring Alma Ruiz and Karen Sherman, moderated by Paul Bonin-Rodriguez, on November 12, 2020 at 12pm. For this panel discussion, curators, artists, activists, advocates, and scholars are invited to meet virtually  to reflect on the public opening of Facing Darkness, and consider how the show renders a public crisis and artists’ circumstances evident and knowable. Moderated by artist-scholar Paul Bonin-Rodriguez, with talks by curator Alma Ruiz and dancemaker Karen Sherman, (Inter)facing Darkness will frame a dialogue on how artists are operating as second responders, as thought leaders, and resource gatherers at this time. Participants will be invited to speak on their experience of the show at this moment. Register here.


18th Street Arts Center
(310) 453-3711


18th Street Arts Center Airport Gallery
3026 Airport Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90405 United States
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(310) 453-3711