We’re pleased to announce the unveiling of a new exhibit in the Mindport gallery this season. The show, entitled “Dream House: dwelling in fantasy” explores the theme of housing insecurity from the viewpoints of 13 different artists working across all media. The abstract for the show is shared below. The artists in the exhibit are:
Eric Boekelheide
Heather Fitzstrawn
Rey Hall
Kelley Hudson
Lisan Kent & Julia McIntyre
Steve Munoz
Jessica MacAdams
Amy Porter
Amy Simons
Marie Songer
Margot Stroop
Claire White
Permanent, secure and affordable housing has become out of reach for many. As real estate and rent increases have rapidly outpaced wage growth, many find themselves in precarious living situations. Some are faced with incredibly difficult decisions as they struggle to prioritize housing alongside other basic needs. Our landscape continues to be developed with buildings, and yet we have many who cannot reliably sleep or live in an indoor space. The archetype of home and belonging has become an unattainable fantasy, as people struggle to become or remain rooted in their communities.
The contemporary reality of severe weather pattern changes further exacerbates inequities. Flooding, extreme cold and record-breaking heat waves continue to disproportionately affect the already marginalized: migrant laborers, service workers, senior citizens, low-income people and those struggling with physical and mental illness. Visible homelessness is rapidly increasing, indicating a corresponding rise in the number of non-visibly unhoused people. The heavy imbalance between housing supply and demand creates an environment rife with the potential for exploitative and predatory practices towards people who don’t own property.
This exhibit asks each of us to consider our own relationship to shelter and security. What happens to the human psyche when the material realities of modern living deny people the chance to become established in a physical place? What role does the history of colonialism and displacement play in this crisis? Who builds and cleans our houses, and can those people find dwellings? What toll is taken when daily living activities can’t be conducted with the dignity of a private interior space? What can the securely housed in our community do to advocate for those who are going without basic human needs? Who has the right to live in comfort and safety, and who doesn’t? It also provides a place to consider the many intersectional factors that play a role in determining who can have shelter: Gender, Labor, Citizenship, Safety, Identity, Health, Family, and Generational Wealth.
Dream House, dwelling in fantasy represents thirteen artists who are themselves affected by the housing crisis. Eight are artists with either current or former ties to Bellingham. Five of this group continue to try to live and work here, while three have relocated because of rapidly increasing housing prices or an inability to find an available rental. Two of the artists in this show are regional-one lives in Spokane, Washington and the other is from Whiterock, BC. Two more are outside of the region and finally, one artist has tragically passed away since this exhibit planning began. In the coming months, we will be sharing the individual works by each of these artists both via this email venue and through our social media channels. We encourage you to come visit the show many times. There is a lot of thoughtful content to take in.
In addition to the visual works, our reading room features a collection of titles curated by Tallie Jones and Kira Schwerzler. The books selected to accompany the show are for people of all ages. They describe the human scale of this crisis, they speak of safety and comfort that we all seek in shelter, address the historical factors that have led to the difficult situation we face now, some offer ways of explaining the difficult topic to young children, and others explore potential solutions. My hope in curating this exhibit was to make a space for artists to communicate their own experiences, and thus to show many facets of the housing crises. I also hope for a shift in cultural consciousness towards an understanding that shelter is a basic human right. Perhaps Dream House can support actions that are useful, compassionate, creative and equitable. I hope that, soon, we can begin to see the collective benefits of alleviating suffering and to work together, so that everyone can be sheltered.