Bold red and black lines intricately tell stories of a reality that many are unaware even exist. Imperfect lines form a Charleston house, often unnoticed by passerbys. Such lines made up the drawings in the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art’s latest exhibits. “Exit/Alive” by Anthony Dominguez and “Ahead of the Wrecking Ball” by Ronald Ramsey debuted on Jan. 20.
The museum’s Director and Chief Curator Mark Sloan plays a big role in researching and documenting the life of the museum, giving him further insight into the featured artists, such as Dominguez and Ramsey.
“We focus on artists that are emerging, mid-career or oddly overlooked,” Sloan said.
Ramsey is a Charleston native and a preservationist. Many of his works depict older buildings in Charleston, revealing the beauty and history that he sees in them.
“He is self taught, so there is a little bit more charm and warmth to his work than an architect’s work,” Sloan said.
Dominguez was a New York City street artist who was homeless by choice. He considered himself to be houseless – and therefore free. The exhibit displays his daily experiences with life on the city streets, whether it be unique observations on human interactions or the harsh realities of life and death. His art leaves behind powerful stories of his life, which ended three years ago when he committed suicide.
“His work is very interesting to me in that it probes the relationship between life and death,” Sloan said. “He came at it from a very interesting perspective, from someone who was almost like a holy man in a sense, because his observations on humanity were based on the kindness that people would show and how people would treat people like him.”
The public viewed both artists’ creations and learned of the issues and experiences each exhibited through their work.
“Art impacts the society around us in profound ways,” Sloan said. “Many artists make art that deals with societal issues. I think this is art that does have meaning, it does have social relevance.”
EJ Hazzard, an intern at the Halsey, is proof of the powerful effects that art can have on the viewer.
“A lot of the art here is by a number of different artist with different viewpoints, and I think it helps me appreciate diversity, thought and really just people in general,” Hazzard said.