In many cases, the most lasting impact of tragedy is not the loss of possessions, but a loss of perception, a world view so utterly changed that it can be nearly impossible to remember what was once taken for granted. In the Rockaways, a new exhibition by local artists visualizes the three stages of such an occurrence.
“Calm / Storm / Rebirth” is, as its title suggests, an exhibition in three stages that brings together 45 artists from the Rockaway Artists Alliance to examine the days leading up to Hurricane Sandy, the storm as it happened, and the aftermath, from “mountains of sand and debris” to when “children returned to school.” On video, in photography, on canvas, and in other mediums artists recorded the storm as it was occurring, and these images provide a zero-point for the two other sides of the exhibition: works produced before the storm, “when our coastal lives were perceived in a vastly different way,” and works in response to it that show how “hardship and triumph exist side by side on a daily basis,” according to the RAA website.
Marina Callaghan, a board member for the alliance, told the Queens Times Ledger that after the storm, many members of the RAA experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress. “Some people became very angry and they didn’t even know who they were angry at,” she said. “Others felt sorry for themselves and some people even got sick.” Some found it difficult to return to their art, and many who stored their life’s work in their Rockaway basements or at the RAA studios at Fort Tilden, lost it all. The exhibition then, was as much an impetus for artists to begin artwork again as it is an expression of the message of the RAA: art heals.
“Part of our mission is to provide shows for the community and to have people come and experience whatever they feel whether that is joy or sadness,” Callaghan told the Times Ledger. “I hope people come and say good job. And I hope we inspire people.”
“Calm / Storm / Rebirth” opened on October 26th in the Building T7 Gallery at Fort Tilden and will be open through November 24th. It is free to all members of the public.
More information on Fort Tilden and the Rockaway Artists Alliance can be found on their website: http://rockawayartistsalliance.org/index.html
For details on the exhibition itself, visit: http://rockawayartistsalliance.org/exh_CalmStorm.html