An exhibition project in three parts about art’s power to affirm and honor who we are.
Being Seen 1-2-3 took place at the Creative Alliance in 2002. Each of three distinct installations was anchored by 10 of Peter’s paintings, chosen to activate the central purpose of the project: to spotlight (“see”) the other artists’ works and words—to uphold their identities.
Each of the exhibition’s iterations was comprised of 10 miniature installations consisting of a painting by Peter, a work of art or object from a contributing participant, that person’s name on the wall in vinyl lettering, and a collection of statements on a small shelf expressing what it meant to that person to have his or her work on display.
“Peter’s paintings played such an interesting conceptual role in what for me as an exhibiting artist felt like a group show. They were like textless text panels—markers invoking the art’s worthwhileness, drawing attention to something worth seeing—me being worth seeing.”
—D.S., Participant, Being Seen 2
Each of Peter’s 10 paintings was created using a methodology based on self-portraiture, only rather than ending up with any likeness of a person (much less himself), his works resolve as minimalist abstract shapes; emblems of general identity rather than specific representations. Whose identity they stand for, or invoke, was determined in this project by what was placed beside them—whose art or selected object.
At the same time that Peter’s paintings were on display to be seen on their own merits, they also pointed outside themselves, used as a tool to highlight others’ work. This double-purpose intentionally blurred the line between his role as artist and curator.
At the time of the exhibition, the Creative Alliance served three constituencies: advancing the work of its artist membership, offering educational programs for community youth, and acting as an economic catalyst for its neighborhood (Highlandtown) through its public programs. These constituencies—artists, youth, and businesses in the neighborhood—were represented in the project’s three rotations. For Being Seen 1, young people from a Highlandtown youth center created painted chairs symbolic of who they are. In Being Seen 2, members of the Creative Alliance showed chosen works of art in a conventional group exhibition. And for Being Seen 3, owners of area sole-proprietorships were asked to select objects emblematic of their profession. Beyond Peter’s paintings, the common thread of each installation was advancing and celebrating the identity and value of each featured person.