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Tolstoy is (probably falsely) attributed with coining the adage, ‘All great literature is one of two stories; a hero goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town. Who and what is this Stranger? And is their travel into the unknown always an act of heroism to some, of colonialism or contamination and infiltration to others?

Even in a land looming with a copper Goddess, one practically begging for the whole world’s Strangers, America’s symbolic territories have consistently mobilized against the Outsider—even, as if obeying vampiric protocol, after inviting them straight in the front door. Yet more than any other country, we are an entire nation of Strangers. This Stranger-ness compounds in its particular foreign associations, but also evaporates under a fairly quick makeover by naturalization, from each territories’ particular Laws of the Land. What is this transformation process—and once you become ‘one of Them’ is there a full moon that can ever turn you back? What the hell alchemy makes us ‘Us’ anyway? And just what kind of Tod Browning-style freak-show of assimilation have we put together here among the accepted and desirable of every part of our world? The Great Agains, Award-winners, Accepted Students, ‘Guess Who Wore It’ Best-Dressed?

There are elements that not only connote difference and sameness, but the merging of both. What is this Melting Pot of opposites—formally, linguistically, ideologically? And do artists themselves swap spit in this primordial soup, slaking a deep craving, or pooling a buckshee of backwash in their merger?

Colloquialism and belonging are also in the mix here, the opposite of the Stranger. What language governs being a part of the pack, what signals departure from the herd? Who is coming, who is going? Does this traffic have a name? Are there collisions? Did somebody get hurt?

A Cultural Trend is also a stranger, new in town. As is Youth, forever evicting the Young before them from the relevancy of trends prior. What becomes Timeless, how does (as Jodorowsky suggests) our shit turn gold and when do Golden Years make it gold-er? And what other aspects of everyday life construe the dichotomy of Local/Out-Of-Towner? News, Facts, and History now are nomadic and freewheeling in the cyber-discussion, unable to be agreed-to, wandering, getting us endlessly layover-ed, sometimes never Home. Aesthetic urgency feels stranger now than ever in an art market forever ornamental and urgently socio-political (Eric Gill has a lot to say about this, especially because you were not made to eat your paintings.). While our capacity for language and discourse on social media hopes to alienate us from Emerson’s wisdom (‘arguments convince nobody’), we’re exchanging more than ever—trading sides of Us-ness and Them-ness with every new status update, street glance, worded T-shirt, action in the outer world.  

The mating of opposites is often central to great art, and to the free, madcap breeding of Culture. The Stranger sometimes comes to town, rather than being run out of it, turning on all the lights with a messianic glow. Sometimes, Outsider and Insider are two broken halves, making each other complete. When is the exchange rate equitable, complicated, cathartic, holy?

Consider how Swiss-born Robert Frank’s The Americans captures the sad, UFO glow of the U.S.A. juke-joint like some unfulfilled promise. Or Nari Ward the textures endemic to American street striving—browbeaten, maybe heroic—in shoelaces and strollers. Through Nicole Eisenman’s Ridykeulous blurred normative boundaries in emoticon yellow, Peter Saul’s cartoonish political grotesques of abuses of power, and Kara Walker’s appropriated cameos of what should’ve been depicted in historic silhouettes—do we artists levee our Stranger-ness or the Stranger-ness of our History and World by making it personal in our own art? These fragments of the world are both shared and personal—how does that work? Which piece is stranger—the public or the private? What is this melting pot between You and I, Them and Us, the work and the artist? Is identity endemic to the art experience? Is it a hide to hope to want to molt?

Through whichever flag, SPRING/BREAK Art Show 2018 seeks works about foreignness, migration, assimilation, and the alchemy of two or more dissolving into each other—or story, as the adage suggests—its limitations, arcs, and disassembling in the realm of formal art practice as a further articulation of Them and Us, narrator and audience; two strangers to one another, caught in an exchange.

SPRING/BREAK Art Show will accept submissions from October 1st – November 20th 2017.

Curator Required Reading/Viewing (kinda):


1) Stranger In The Village essay by James Baldwin (Notes of a Native Son, 1955)

2) Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology: A Film Theory Reader Edited by Philip Rosen (Chapter 15: The Imaginary Signifier [Excerpts] by Christian Metz, pg. 244-278 

3) Uncoded Images in the Heterogenous Text by Deborah Linderman, pg.144-178. Columbia University Press. 1986)

4) My Favorite Thing Is Monsters graphic novel by Emil Ferris

5) House of Asterion by Jorge Luis Borges (pg. 138-141, New Directions Edition, 1974)

6) Selected Essays from Dept. of Corrections by Bob Nickas:

a. Pierre Huyghe The Third Memory; and

b. Trompe L’Oeil

7) I want a president by Zoe Leonard

8) The Outsider by Colin Wilson (esp. Chapter 2: World Without Values)

9) The Red Thread from A Rainbow Reader by Tessa Laird (particularly on Ngahuia Te Awekotuku on Gordon Walters’ appropriation of Māori motifs)

10) I Had Nowhere To Go by Jonas Mekas (esp. journal entry titled New York, pg 293-322, Black Thistle Press. 1991.)


11) Stranger Comes To Town (excerpt) by Jacqueline Goss (

12) Teorema by Pier Paolo Pasolini

13) Going Home by Adolfus Mekas

14) Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles by Chantal Akerman

15) Stranger Than Paradise by Jim Jarmusch

16) Killer of Sheep by Charles Burnett

17) Double Feature: Dracula by Tod Browning / A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night by Ana Lily Amirpour

18) Celine and Julie Go Boating by Jacques Rivette

19) Kuroneko by Kenito Shindo

More information about Application Process and Instructions to be posted on the website on October 1, 2017.

We will use our online website for exhibition sales again in 2018,