By Daniel Del Real, Curator
Visual art is a globally practiced form of art. In every corner of the world, humanity is active in the creation of visual expressions. It takes on different forms depending on the cultures. Where one culture is known for one form or technique, another is known for something completely different. These expressions may come from a place with a long-standing tradition, while others are being born this very moment.
At the Global Village Welcome Center, a movement is being born that is bringing together artists from all over the world. In its third iteration, the World Arts Expo has brought together over 100 artworks created by 33 artists from 14 countries representing 5 continents. The exposition is a celebration of the visual arts and culture.
These 100+ works have filled the center’s Global Gallery with an array of works touching on themes like the classic portrait, still lives, dance, religion, flowers, landscapes and more. Furthermore, there are a myriad of techniques and mediums that bring these works to life such as oil and acrylic painterly, impressionistic, expressionistic, and photo-realistic compositions. There are also many works that make use of unconventional materials such as Mary Mindiola’s magazine paper collages. These collages contain bits and pieces of magazine pages cut in specific shapes and sizes to form a big picture as if they were a piece of a puzzle. What’s more impressive is the presence of hidden images and words within her works that send viewers on a “Where’s Waldo” search, except you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, but you know there is something there waiting to be found. Works like those of Sven Schumacher are similarly exciting, except Sven is the person who does the searching. His works consist of landscapes and abstractions contained inside shadow boxes that he creates. On his nature hikes and everyday walks, Sven collects random objects like litter, branches, and shells. Where one may see trash, Sven sees something else. In his work titled “Harvest Moon” you see a forest enveloped in a night sky with a glowing moon shining over it. In truth, you are looking at 4 pinecones sitting on twigs with a 5 Deutsche Mark coin.
On Friday, February 18, the Global Village Welcome Center held an artist reception. The event brought together over 20 of the 33 artists in the World Arts Expo. The event started off with the loud banging of drums in an Eisa performance by Okinawa Yuyukai. Pop-up performances throughout the evening featured musicians playing string instruments in a tour of 3 countries. First, we were treated to the sounds of China in a performance featuring the pipa by Sherry Dong. Sherry explained that the pipa is not actually a Chinese instrument. It was introduced from Persia and the Chinese simply made it theirs. The sounds for the night then took us to India with the strumming of the veena. Elevated on a small stage Sreemala Murthy played the veena seated as guests peered from all around her. The sounds of the veena and Sreemala’s calm demeanor had a magnetic pull on the crowd. The tour of instruments ended with a Spanish guitar performance by Nicaraguan instrumentalist Norman Norori.
The event featured a similarly curated selection of hors d’oeuvres from the International Marketplace neighborhood restaurants. Selections for this event included chicken and lamb kabab bites with Yemeni flatbread from Al Rayan, Cuban croquettes from Havana Café, sweet Chinese dumplings from Homey Hot Pot, Mexican espumita cookies from Mama Ines, among several other delicious tastings.
The highlight of the event was the artist introductions. One by one, I called each artist who was present to the stage. I wanted to know, as did the crowd, where they were from and their ethnic backgrounds, their inspiration, and the themes in their art. What I discovered is that there is more in common than there is different between the artists in this exhibit. For example, artist Kassa Bekele from Ethiopia enjoys capturing his home country’s culture in his art, while artist Lenny White from Indianapolis said he enjoys traveling to Ethiopia. He said, “Ethiopia is a country that never got colonized, and therefore has a culture that remained intact.” This love for Ethiopia’s rich culture kept both artists immersed in their discussions with each other throughout the evening. Artists like Dr. Gonzalo Chua and Yoshimi C. Fuqua, Chinese and Japanese respectively share similar themes and styles despite being from different East Asian countries. One thing that stood out through the artist introductions was the camaraderie between the artists. There was a genuine sense of mutual understanding and appreciation that spilled into the onlooking crowd like a loaded paintbrush smearing paint across a colorful canvas.
The World Arts Expo is on view now through March 19, 2022, at the Global Village Welcome Center. 4233 Lafayette Road, Indianapolis, Indiana 46224. Daniel Del Real is an artist and curator working in Central Indiana.