Primary Peoples, Colors and Shapes: Recent Work by Joe Lewis

August 19 – September 26, 1993

A lot of people have problems with art that has political content because it makes them look at themselves, and that’s the thing that makes them upset. It makes them think about things that they’d rather forget,  or shows them that they aren’t really who they say they are.
     —excerpted from a conversation between Joe Lewis and Barry Blinderman, June 1993

Joe Lewis’ large-scaled sculptural installations explore issues of the environment, race and gender, and comment upon the universal nature of humankind’s struggle for continued existence. The exhibition derives its names from a work of 1991, with the full title Primary Peoples, Colors, and Shapes Vanquished by the Bald Eagle. The first in a series the artist did on the 13th amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits slavery, the piece includes neon, plexiglass, photostats, rawhide, and didactic information on the implications that the amendment has for citizens convicted of a crime. Other works are also composed of unusual materials, such as Ivory soap, LED signage, chainsaws, and gummy bears, as well as paint, metal, and wood. Lewis has consistently dealt with social and political content in his art, integrating diverse disciplines such as history, philosophy, science and religion to produce multi-media works that are rich in meaning and visual excitement. Lewis’ intent as an artist is to be connected with society; he noted in a recent interview, “Art is still probably the only thing that can really allow people to get in touch with themselves and with the world.”  

Original Article