Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Questioning the Body Politic (digital exhibit)

Aileen Bassis Questioning the Body Politic

Monday, July 1 –
Friday, August 30, 2019

Weekdays, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Watson Institute, 111 Thayer St., First Floor

Aileen Bassis is a visual artist and poet living and working in New York City. Her practice includes artists books, printmaking and mixed work on paper. She explores social and political themes running throughout contemporary society.  She’s been awarded artist fellowships to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Vermont Studio center, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, grants from the Queens Council on the Arts and the Puffin Foundation. She was awarded two residencies in poetry by the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Her artist books are in many public collections including Yale University, Wellesley College and Rhode Island School of Design. 

This work is from two series, “Questions for America,” and “Time to Leave,” funded in part by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the Puffin Foundation.

"Time to Leave"

This group of photoetchings was inspired by the forces at work around the world forcing desperate people to migrate from their homelands, facing all sorts of dangers for an uncertain future. Someone said to me, “Why don’t they just stay in their own countries and fix them?” If only this could be solved so simply.  I began to think about people finding that they have no future wherever they are and must leave.  I’ve thought about the Rohingya people from Myanmar fleeing genocide, refugees from war in Syria and Libya, people from Iraq, people crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe, migrants from Central America fleeing gang violence and poverty, Haitians drowning in the Atlantic, Venezuelans trekking across mountains in search of medicine and food.

"Questions for America" 

I began this series of inkjet prints with pencil in 2017.  The presidential election of 2016 left me wondering if I understood or really knew this country and my fellow citizens.  I felt like a mask had been torn away and I didn’t recognize the face that was revealed.  It seems like the country is spinning backward with the rise of hate groups, the march in Charlottesville, the many mass shootings, the roll-back of gay and transgender rights and most recently with the attacks on women’s rights to their bodies. This work asks the viewer to consider the nature of our country and what it means to be part of this nation.  

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