By David Villegas
The Weinberg/Newton Gallery hosted an opening event for the “Sapphire” art exhibition on Oct. 7. Sapphire is a group exhibition by Common Cause Illinois that engages the public on political issues such as voting, money in politics, and ethics in media and democracy.
Brian Gladstein, who is the executive director of Common Cause Illinois, gave those who attended the opening ceremony a brief introduction into what Common Cause stands for.
“Common Cause is a 45 year old organization. We are, have organizations in 35 states across the country,” Gladstein said. “We really started being a watchdog around issues that came after Watergate.”
According to Gladstein, Common Cause Illinois relaunched in Illinois in 2012 and has since been working on two major campaigns.
One of the issues that they work on are issues about money in politics. A few artwork pieces that were on display showed that issue at hand.
Another issue that he mentioned was voting rights. Gladstein indicated how his organization fought for the Automatic Voter Registration bill, which was vetoed by Governor Rauner, and how he hopes to override it for this year.
There was one piece of art that resembled a i.d. Card for a potential voter. Another piece of art showed an American flag that was gold and white instead of red, white and blue.
Anna Elise Johnson, an artist from Starnberg, Germany, made a performance that utilized three-dimensional acrylic collages that used sourced images of government officials.
This work of art reminds us all that just like in politics, images are constructed and maintain the effects of their masters.
Grace Chan, who is the Director of Development and Communications for Common Cause Illinois, spoke of the appeal of Art Galleries exhibits to beyond just millennials and to people of all ages.
“… Because it’s usually difficult for people to think about government or the political process. Sometimes people think that it’s boring or too difficult to understand,” Chan said.
Chan felt that having this exhibition in an art gallery “so you can present the ideas in an artistic and creative way makes people think about these issues” and “make it not so scary.”
Sapphire is on display through January 14, 2017 at the Weinberg/Newton Gallery located right off the Chicago Brown Line Station.