From its own campus, MICA has had an international impact. Fall 2010’s The Narcissism of Minor Differences exhibition showed the commonality in various forms of intolerance around the world. The exhibition shone a spotlight on anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, and the horrible ramifications of bias and discrimination—including slavery, the Holocaust, apartheid, and hate crimes.
Co-curated by MICA’s Director of Exhibitions Gerald Ross and Christopher Whittey, former MICA faculty member, Narcissism was an expansive installation of 44 objects by 18 artists from around the world. Israeli-born Roee Rosen’s contribution, Hilarious, used humor and irony to juxtapose jokes about Jews with the tragedy of the World Trade Center collapse. London-based Maria-Theresa Feranades came to MICA to create Exclusion, a work that addressed issues related to dress code, culture, anti-social behavior, and intolerance in cities whose cultural distinctiveness has been blurred by globalization. Photomontages by South African artist Jane Alexander alluded to the evil of apartheid. A work from the late Spanish artist Francisco de Goya put the horrors of war in a historical context.
Work from the array of international artists was shown alongside American-based artists. American Indian artist and activist Jaune Quick-To-See Smith contributed her work Cowboys and Indians, which postulated that the cowboys in the Wild West would have shot each other if the American Indians had not been there. Karina Aguilera Skvirsky’s photography explored the history of lynching in Maryland, and award-winning photographer Stephen Marc lent part of his current project Passage on the Underground Railroad to illuminate slavery in America. Sam Durant constructed a life-size scaffold on MICA’s Cohen Plaza, modeled after one built for the 1887 execution of Chicago’s Haymarket Martyrs, prominent labor rights advocates.
MICA alumni also contributed to the exhibition. The painting Proletarian Mother Tossing Flowers on Her Homosexual Son’s Grave by Juan Logan ’98 (Mount Royal School of Art) addressed feelings toward gays and lesbians in the South and in the African-American community during the 1970s. In addition, solo shows by MICA alumni accompanied the exhibition. John Lewis III ’89 (Mount Royal School of Art) displayed digital prints that explored intolerance, Marc Andre Robinson ’02 (Rinehart School of Sculpture) explored the transformation of his family’s home in South Africa from a farm to a golf course, and Valerie Piraino ’04 (General Fine Arts) presented stories of family dramatized by time, absence, and nostalgia.
The Washington Post highlighted the timeliness—and timelessness— of the exhibition, which was on display as a gunman went on a murderous rampage at a Tucson, Arizona, grocery store, killing people of all ages and severely wounding Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. “Sadly, too relevant,” was how the Post described Narcissism. “Part cautionary tale, part history lesson.”