Miracles Unknown

Sin título Arturo Mallman 2004 Mixed media on 18th century Italian door fragment Purchase Fund

Miracles Unknown is an installation curated by Fisher Museum Director Dr. Selma Holo’s Art History students. It is intended to serve as an inspiration to Art Division students, as they continue their residency at Fisher through attending and delivering workshops. Miracles Unknown consists of two parts:

Everyday Miracles

We cannot always explain our own wonder. Whether it takes the form of shock, terror, or bliss, we assign a miraculous quality to the source of our strongest amazement and (often) head out to find it. Lives and volumes have been devoted to seeking out and materializing the miraculous. Only at the end of these pursuits, however, do we find that the root of amazement had been present in our daily lives all along. Our journeys and scavenging, no matter how misguided they may sometimes seem, develop our ability to appreciate these everyday miracles.

Everyday Miracles is a testament to those journeys and that scavenging. The selections you see here, from the permanent collection of the USC Fisher Museum of Art, are testaments to the everyday miraculous in various ways: through medium, contents, history, and allegory. Works from series, such as Sin título (2002) by Sergio Belinchón and Christina Fernandez’s Maria’s Great Expedition (1995-1996), are literal examples of that journey. Other pieces, such as Carol Newborg’s Ark/Icon from her Gateway installation (1990), a part of an exhibition named Forbidden Entry, communicate an illusion of an arched window—beckoning but blocked. It asks the question: how to proceed when the forces appear to be against the journey itself? What it is about the quotidian that sometimes frightens us and keeps us from realizing the miraculous? Some works, like the Reverend Ethan Acres’s Miracle at La Brea, ask a slightly different question: when, and why, does the familiar give way to a miracle?

The subject of our exhibition was also reflected in our process –digging through the permanent collection of the Fisher Museum, we found the miraculous to be all around us. In Robert Glen Ginder’s Fruit Stand, it was in the grocery store; in I Know Something About Love, it drifted through a window; some of it was so close that it was in our very bones, as in the Artists’ Hands. From the storage rooms of the museum, we assembled points of light into a constellation of miracles perceived and communicated by artists. We hope that it can serve as a reminder of the immediacy of the miraculous that is actually embedded into our daily lives—waiting to be noticed.

Antonia Jade Matias Bell
B.A. Candidate
USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Yomyung Regina Chung
B.A. Candidate
USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Unknown

Part of the power of humans is our overpowering interest in explaining what is unknown. Our curiosity drives our experience, making us experiment, ponder, and create. But the unknown is also scary, particularly when it affects our everyday lives. The purpose of this exhibition is to discuss both what is unknown and how we deal with what we either do not understand or what is uncertain. In a time of political change, many are questioning the unknown in their everyday lives: access to healthcare, immigration, maintaining equal rights for minorities and women, as well as personal identity and belonging—all these issues are pressing and important because their resolution in the future is unknown. We have chosen works that specifically address these topical issues, expressing how artists depict and understand the complexities of the uncertainties that we are facing.

However, the unknown is not a new concept. Every generation must deal with uncertainty, unrest and the unknown. And so, people have developed ways of explaining or discussing them. Religion, the Occult, science, technology, law and order, and art are examples of this quest. Therefore, we have compiled works that may also offer guidance and demonstrate how, throughout the ages, humans have tried to reveal, understand and find comfort with the unknown. The unknown can be terrifying and can cause chaos, but it is our job to actively confront these aspects of the human condition, and to not be passive in the face of doubt.

Madelyne Gordon
B.A. Candidate
USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Lauren Jones
B.A. Candidate
USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences