Still Absorbing the Good News, artist and poet Andrea Arrubla’s first solo exhibition at New Release, carries an urgency in materials and content. Nearly all of the work was produced in the last two months against a backdrop of the Orlando massacre, the SCOTUS 4-4 tie vote blocking Obama’s immigration plan, Brexit, and a staggeringly mounting body count of black and brown people murdered by police in the United States.
Opting for cheap and readily available materials like cardboard, wood, and found objects, Arrubla engages them pathologically, attempting to visually codify incommunicable anger and despair in real-time. This isn’t art for the privileged class of “young collectors” in New York City (though they’d do themselves a civic favor in experiencing it). Arrubla’s concern for a market audience is effectively nonexistent.
Instead, she produces quickly and intuitively, drawing from her own experience as a gay, immigrant woman of color to produce a volume of individual pieces that, while autobiographically specific, manage to speak intentionally to broad communities that don’t typically find contemporary art exhibitions offering space for them. The interdisciplinary body of work, which features paintings and sculptures dances fittingly between political bluntness and an almost melancholy opacity.
But make no mistake: Arrubla’s also in possession of a wicked sense of humor and she knows when to throw a punchline instead of a punch. The title alone nods to the shitlist of personal, local, national, and international events that seem determined to knock the wind out of her. As her audience though, we’re pretty fucking fortunate that she never learned to take the hint.
-Sean J Patrick Carney
Still Absorbing the Good News opens July 13th 6-9 PM and runs through August 6th. Summer hours will be Thursday - Saturday, 12-6 PM.