The Not So Silent Witnesses: An exhibition featuring Lydia Viscardi and Rita Valley

Artists Lydia Viscardi and Rita Valley, through their works, take on many areas of social behavior and dress up these qualities through their artistic language with the sole objective of asking that we accept culpability for the world we all both create and inhabit. Focusing on language and universal memory, both artists approach the arena of social discontent, something greatly inflamed in this current era and bring forth realities which are found in their work.
Lydia Viscardi through her soft touch often seems to look back to times that present safe vignettes into a more stylized and maybe better time. Taking for example, in her series: Here and Hereafter, with obvious connotations towards what lies beyond our existence, the works present a version of what could be heaven above and an inferno below and somewhere ‘stuck’ in the middle are Viscardi’s characters often ‘caught’ in idyllic settings of a life presumably undisturbed. The disturbance though permeates the canvas suggesting, naturally a balance but also the limitations of all that lives - lives perfectly packaged and presented not only to the viewer, but also to the artist The struggle though between the ‘above’ and ‘below’ is clearly seen and understood in Travel Agency. Starting just with the name - the idea of a woman being the agency of travel, even though all births travel through her body, the association of the feminine to the phallic vessels of transportation, are not expected. Viscardi, though is not having this - instead in the above mentioned work, the middle vignette focuses on a woman - possible a woman from the Antebellum who on one surface stimulates notions of Scarlett O’Hara, but also in the same moment, when looking at the complete composition - invites comparisons with the archangel Michael, thereby elevating the position of the feminine and affording her with characteristics of a guide, and not the subjected follower many want her to be.
Rita Valley, deeply political and confrontational in her work tackles all social trends, morality and political behaviors and turns them all around and into art - art that stands up and will be heard. Valley, as with Viscardi, also has a soft touch, part of that is the medium used, fiber, the other part, also connected to her medium, is the mixing of fibers - creating multilevel patchworks of statements that draw one in with their unabashed taunts, but that also get softened by fringes, sequins, and the like. Valley seems to have no discomfort in calling us all out - wether one is wealthy and living on the brink of destruction along the coasts, wether one is trying to live their best life, exhausting every moment, or the reduction of the art world and those involved to be naught much more than whores - the intent is there bellowing that we all stop, turn around and look into who we are and what we do, what we aspire to - and are these things good for us all? For anyone? Wrapping her lambasts at society, Rita confuses us a little, catches us off guard as we are initially drawn into the works by the luxury of her works, only to be slapped by our behavior calling us out, betraying the perceived self idol we all formulate to lighten our burden of not being who we should be.
Combined these two artists make up The Not So Silent Witnesses of our current in gallery exhibition, both artists gently reminding us not to be the A**holes that we often are - the question is, will we listen? Will we become the people we think we are, will we just be and do better?
Melanie Prapopoulos