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
All photos published with permisson of the artist.
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