Mona Gazala: Given the Circumstances
Exhibition date: Friday, March 2nd from 5:00-7:00 pm
This exhibition is about memory, place, and justice. It examines the aesthetics and politics of abandonment and gentrification through the remnants of Franklinton's Bellows School - an abandoned school building that is currently being gutted in anticipation of conversion into condominiums or some other new use. The struggle between preservation and progress - what is to be discarded and who decides? - is an analogy for how we perceive the people in marginalized and low-income communities.
Gazala is a resident of Franklinton, an inner-city neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio; and her home is just across the street from the Bellows School. Mona navigates her art with the aesthetic of an "urban archaeologist," assigning value to discarded items that others may consider of little worth. Her artworks often go the extra step and address social justice issues surrounding under-served communities and their overlooked human value, particularly as real estate speculation, gentrification, erasure, and displacement become growing concerns.
As an American-born artist of Palestinian descent, Gazala often draws on the mystique of ancient ruins and artifacts that were the normal environment of her parent's upbringing to make parallels with aged and decaying structures in modern American cities. Her Palestinian heritage also imbues her with a keen sense of spacial justice in issues of colonialism and displacement.