From now until August 29, Nashville’s Channel To Channel gallery features three local artists who present complementary but diverse viewpoints on our past and present society using kindred creative approaches. The artists — Nuveen Barwari, Courtney Adair Johnson and Marlos E’van — have assembled for a show entitled “Hot Cheetos: Activism and Junk Food.”
“Barwari, E’van and Johnson first came together in 2018 and again in 2019, working together with local youth on a summer program with McGruder Social Practice Artist Residency (M-SPAR),” according to a release from the gallery, referencing a program to accelerate artistic participation and collaboration in North Nashville through the McGruder Family Resource Center. “There are many parallels in their methods and personal histories, as each artist was raised in the southern United States. However, each has different heritage and backgrounds that play an important part in their independent art practices. Their interest in social justice, historical narratives and the use of repurposed material have interlaced them into a working collective.”
Barwari is a Kurdish American whose work spans multiple disciplines and whose focus tends to be on migration, refugee experiences and transnational identity. Johnson explores issues of waste and consumption through her work, emphasizing sustainability and reuse. E’van works in multimedia, including film, and much of the resulting art accentuates figures from current events and the vices of commercialism — as in the piece The Last Suppa. But E’van’s work also offers perspective on other contemporary issues, particularly at this moment of reflection on societal inequalities.
“[E’van delivers] critiques on the criminal justice system, both in America and abroad, while offering works and exhibitions that ask questions of how we, as a society, can break the chains that oppress us and finally live in a world as a unified people.”
His piece White Nationalist, featured in “Hot Cheetos,” offers a seemingly clear viewpoint on a social issue: a call to eliminate white nationalist sentiment. But it is more than just a social traffic sign. The canvas is stretched over a window pane that E’van salvaged from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, literally embedding a moment in American history during which people of color suffered disproportionately and, like the peers along whom this piece is hung at Channel To Channel, demonstrating the power that art has to revive and transform found objects.
E’van received their bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Watkins College of Art in 2016 and has been exhibited widely throughout Nashville. E’van also cofounded M-SPAR.
Channel to Channel is located at 507 Hagan Street in We-Ho.