Sharon Kagan: How the ‘Politics of Color’ Shape Our Lives

Sharon Kagan: How the ‘Politics of Color’ Shape Our Lives

Artists have long used color as an emotional stand-in for the revolutionary political ideas that shape our lives. Take for example, Krzysztof Kieślowski’s operatic Three Colors trilogy, a series of interlocking films, color-schemed to match the French flag, that dreamily deconstructs classic themes of the French Republic: liberty, equality, and brotherhood.

Like Kieślowski, American artist Sharon Kagan is sensitive to her country’s symbolic use of color. Her recent body of work, The Politics of Color, examines national identity through a deeply personal, red-, white-, and blue-tinted lens—three colors that stir a visceral reaction in Kagan. “It seemed as though they became part of the ‘brand’ of the far right,” she explains in her artist statement for The Politics of Color.

Kagan—whose mother actively resisted fascism during WWII, saving hundreds of Jewish lives in the process—grew up in a household where the tenants of social justice were intimately connected with identity. The Politics of Color underscores how larger social and political structures affect our personal lives, down to the smallest detail.

And there are plenty of small details to pore over. Her mixed media drawings and paintings situate gridded, masculine structures within organic feminine patterns, symbolizing the delicate balance required for a just society. “When there is ambiguity, there is the possibility for multiple interpretations, inviting meaningful dialogue, exchange, and change,” Kagan says, adding, “we can only be safe when everyone is safe.”

“We can only be safe when everyone is safe.” — Sharon Kagan

The Politics of Color

Sharon Kagan: Website | Instagram | Facebook

All photos published with permisson of the artist.

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Morgan  Laurens 

Morgan Laurens (she/her/hers) is NOT REAL ART’s editor in chief. Morgan is an arts writer from the Midwest who enjoys saying “excuse me” when no actual pardon is needed. She specializes in grant writing and narrative-based storytelling for mission-driven artists and arts organizations. With a background in printmaking, pop culture, and classic literature, Morgan believes a girl’s best friend is the pile of books on her bedside table.