I-thou: a two-part exhibition opens at Kimmel Windows


Abraham Gross

i-Thou is a gallery exhibition featuring work by Liam Alexander and curation by Pamela Tinnen that just opened in Kimmel.

Aliya Ikhumen, Contributing Writer

In the midst of the busy street filled with cars and fast-paced New Yorkers, a calm but festive energy exudes from Liam Alexander’s portraits. Pedestrians admire the inspiring and intriguing pieces as the subjects themselves smile with pride and embrace their families. The works are on display in the Kimmel Windows at the corner of 3rd Street.

One part of I-Thou, Alexander’s portrait series, focuses on 11 individual portraits of social activists who have devoted themselves to social causes like LGBTQ rights, immigration rights and Black Lives Matter. The second part is a mixed-media group exhibition on view in the Stovall Family Gallery on the eighth floor of Kimmel, curated by Pamela Tinnen. The goal of I-Thou as a whole is to facilitate conversation about the concept of “other”.

The artist visually explains this by deconstructing and then reconstructing a narrative, taking a photograph and turning it into a collage of mixed-media. Alexander starts this process by photographing some of his subjects in front of familiar backgrounds, such as a grandparent’s home, to depict how both the artwork and reality are
simultaneously deconstructed.

Each one of the 11 portraits consists of an activist’s photograph that has been dismantled and then rejuvenated to create a new image all together. This harmonious art form not only layers photos, but also layers painful histories. The patches in each collage symbolize how these activists attempt to stitch their communities together each day. The muted hues of purple, blue, and black bleed to the bottom of the paper and emphasize the severity of their efforts and pain.

Alexander is confident in his influence, using his art as a vehicle for social change. His life experiences greatly affect the works he produces.

“I feel like I can connect to this stuff, and if you can just connect to that a little bit then you can see into what goes on,” Alexander said. “I have a platform. And people listen to me and like my art. And that was an opportunity for me.”

Tinnen explains that working together is crucial to initiating unity and understanding.

“We can’t solve all the problems but if we try to understand that we’re all in this together or at least that we are all human, then maybe that’s the first step”.

The artwork aims to bridge the gap between I and Thou by connecting the people who visualize, see and live this pain. This collection will be outside the Kimmel Windows and on the eighth floor until Oct. 16th.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 14 print edition. Email Aliya Ikhumen at [email protected]