Exhibition Pick: “7 on 7”

Jacob Kiernan visits a group exhibition at Antenna that explores the seven heavenly virtues and seven deadly sins.

Ben Fox-McCord, Avarice. Mixed-Media Sculpture. Courtesy the artist.

“7 on 7”
3718 St. Claude Avenue
January 9 - February 7, 2016

“7 on 7”—an exhibition at Antenna celebrating the seven heavenly virtues and seven deadly sins—is the perfect christening for the Carnival season. It reminds us of all the vicious things we’ll do in the next month and everything saintly we’ll try to avoid.

The exhibition succeeds in deftly connecting the work of 14 stylistically diverse artists, while challenging classic conceptions of virtue and vice. John Isiah Walton’s Gluttony 4:20, an expressive portrait featuring a personified hamburger and chicken leg, explores the commercial factors that structure contemporary greed. Generic Art Solutions mocks anachronistic conceptions of purity in a black-and-white photograph of a man hanging upside down in a strait jacket. Ben Fox-McCord’s Avarice is a graphic, mixed-media sculpture of a covetous four-eyed creature, its hands guarding a glowing yellow box. An acrylic painting on wood by ArtSoulLife depicts a black woman removing a mask symbolizing the veneer of respectability politics, highlighting how systemic racism continues to deepen historical inequalities.

Other favorites include Tina Lugo’s Wrath, a piece influenced by the Japanese Ero Guru Nansensu movement, that simultaneously provokes the sexual and the grotesque. And Angel, who curated the exhibition with Ernest Littles, includes his A Glass of Wine in Her Hand, which blends surreal and pop imagery to illustrate the dangers an intemperate world inflicts upon women.

The strength of “7 on 7” lies in its artists’ abilities to use traditional conceptions of sin to cleverly illuminate the contemporary social, environmental, and governmental powers that structure these moral categories, asking us to reflect on our own virtues and vices.