Survival of Serena and Immigration

In the late seventies and early eighties, Carole and her family lived in a house in Key West in Florida.  She would see Cuban asylum seekers floating to shore on rafts they had strapped together out of inner tubes and driftwood.  She was greatly affected.

Since 1966, seven years after the Cuban revolution put Fidel Castro in power and in the context of the Cold War, the US had viewed Cubans as political refugees eligible for US citizenship if they could just make it to the country. However, because of travel restrictions and limited resources, those desperate to leave the country scavenged raft materials and inner tubes to become balseros, attempting to float across the Caribbean waters to the Keys.

When balseros made it to Florida they were destroyed by the journey: dehydrated, sun-sick, hypothermic, starving.  However, they also become an integral part of the Florida and US community: in total more than a million would eventually call the state home.

Seeing these refugees, Carole was moved to produce Innertube Variant II, the torso and arms of a woman resting her head on an innertube.  It has been made and re-made since the 1980s in many forms, coming to be known as Survival of Serena.  

Survival of Serena

Survival of Serena

In one of the first blog posts I wrote after I started working at the studio, I talked about the “Miniature Serena” I had been learning to lay-up with resin to make a piece in the edition:

Yesterday a senior fabricator, Natasha Rodriguez, started teaching me how to do the lay-up of one of Carole’s sculptures, a Mini Serena.  Serena is resting on an inner tube, her head on her arm.  She looks tired and self-satisfied.  Talking with one of the artists here, Heath Wang, he said he saw in it the story of a woman who has escaped abuse and created a new life for herself, and is resting in that moment of security she has created… I'm attracted to Serena's floating, mobile self-security.

Learning more about the history of Survival of Serena in the time since, I’ve come to appreciate it as one of Carole’s most important works.  This sculpture can be more specifically discussed in a political context as an immigrant narrative and a refugee problem.  The floating figure is a direct reference to the experience of crossing the water that Carole watched the balseros take again and again.  

That self-security is something Survival of Serenahas won on the back of her journey as an immigrant, and that is part of why the sculpture has remained one of Carole’s most popular pieces. It has a resonance through different refugee crises that the US and the world have encountered since.  Those who view Survival of Serena can connect it to the Cuban balseros, but it can also be linked to the Honduran, Guatemalan, and Salvadoran families that have been escaping Central American violence since the 1990s.

A Mexican border patrol agent looks out at the river at the border with Guatemala. Photo by N. Parish Flannery @LatAmLENS.

A Mexican border patrol agent looks out at the river at the border with Guatemala. Photo by N. Parish Flannery @LatAmLENS.

That violence has roots in the United States.  Many Central American criminal organizations can be traced back to Los Angeles, the weapons they use to control and terrorize are primarily a US export, and the market that they sell narcotics to is the US.  Many of the migrants who flee this violence are children and women who choose not to cooperate with these gangs and are faced with death. They have an aspiration to become Survival of Serena, to have built their own self security.

Unfortunately, the Trump administration is actively seeking to destroy that possibility for migrants from Central America and from around the world.  

The public debate on migration in this country is centered on the intense coverage of family separations occurring this summer on the US-Mexico border. It’s reported that more than 2000 children have been separated from their parents while those parents are being detained and tried criminally for illegal entry into the country, even if they have a legitimate claim to asylum.  Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has released recommendations for strict limitations on what an asylum claim looks like, by rejecting the threat of gang or domestic violence as valid grounds for a claim.

Additionally, Trump has successfully pursued a ban on travel and immigration of those from five Muslim-majority countries (along with North Korea and officials of the Venezuelan government), a ban which was recently upheld by the Supreme Court in Trump v. Hawaii.  Two of the countries, Syria and Yemen, are currently undergoing civil wars that the US fights in and supports, creating a massive refugee crisis that the Middle East and Europe have largely borne the weight of.  However, those Yemenis and Syrians who have family in the US and even with US citizen children are now unable to come to the US by any means, continuing the administration’s policy of family separation.

Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions aspire to destroy the meaning and hope of Survival of Serena’s meaning and to destroy that aspiration to a safe and peaceful life for those who are threatened by violence that is often a US export in the first place.  

Ultimately I just want to say this: more than half of the people who work in Carole’s studio right now were born outside the US, myself included.  Carole herself is born of immigrant grandparents escaping Hitler, and being allowed to have asylum in the USA. Our lives have been profoundly affected by the vagaries of policy around migration and immigration in this country and abroad. Making sculptures themselves is not an effective way to fight immoral policy, but producing symbols that have cultural resonance is tool that can be used to suggest moral, aspirational alternatives if the conversation around those symbols happens.

Carole says that Survival of Serena is a universal sculpture. She points to the fact that even for those who weren’t born outside of the US, migration have been a part of most families’ experience.  There have been so many different migrations: those who are refugees from war or famine or flood, those who survived the Trail of Tears and colonial terror, those who were enslaved, those who fled north during the Great Migration, those who moved to the suburbs, those who came to cities because rural economies were corporatized, those who escape their families, those who send money back to their families because there are no jobs at home.  I don’t know if Survival of Serena can speak to all of these histories, and exist in dialogue with them, then her mobile self-security is probably the best that all of us who are at the mercy of history can hope for.

—Craig Hartl

From Carole: See You In Miami!

by Kelsey Zalimeni, images by David Brown

It's that time of year again- Art Basel Miami Beach is in full swing this week.  Fresh off landing from a previous trip, Carole has packed her bags to hit South Beach today.  She is in for quite possibly the busiest week of her year, with works featuring at nine different venues... yes, nine! The following sites will contain pieces by Carole: Miami Projects, Art Miami, Context Miami, Scope Miami, Mana Miami, GLE at Mana, Red Dot Art Fair, and Wynwood Space.  


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Despite her manic schedule for Miami, Carole wants everyone to feel welcome to spot and approach her throughout the week.  

She will be donning her distinct jacket (pictured above) so that anyone who wishes to introduce themselves and ask questions can do just that.  Keep an eye out for that blue and black print, and don't be shy about saying hello! 

You can also give Carole a shout on Twitter this week- tweet @CaroleFeuerman with a comment or tagged image of her works around the fairs.  

 

'Kendall Island' To Be Featured At SCOPE MIAMI

by Kelsey Zalimeni

Carole Feuerman's 'Kendall Island' will exhibit at the Gallery Biba booth in Scope Miami this year, alongside works by Mel Bochner and Barbara Segal.  The eye-catching piece is in fact a portrait of Mana Contemporary's marketing director Kendall Tichner, who donned an edgy Chromat suit for the casting.  

Scope Miami opens December 2 and will run all week until closing on the 7th.  Be sure to drop by the Scope Miami Beach Pavilion to witness 'Kendall Island' in person at Gallery Biba, BOOTH G13.

'Yaima And The Ball' to Debut in Miami

by Kelsey Zalimeni

Carole Feuerman's brand new, never before seen piece Yaima and the Ball will be making its debut in Wynwood this December at Miami Project.  Bursting with athletic dynamism, this new addition reflects a bright, energized attitude from Carole.  

Yaima and the Ball  , 2014, Oil on Resin

Yaima and the Ball, 2014, Oil on Resin

The figure interacts with the plinth in a symbiotic fashion, both bearing a diagonal silhouette. Such congruence makes this work as much about the medium as its literal narrative theme. 

Miami Project will run from December 2 to 7 in Midtown at the Miami Project Pavilion.  The main entrance is located between NE 34th & NE 36th Streets between NE 1st Avenue (Midtown Blvd.) and Buena Vista Blvd.

This exciting new piece will be on view at Jim Kempner Fine Art, Booth 113 for the duration of the fair. Don't miss it!

 

'Balance' Exhibiting at Cavalier Gallery

by Kelsey Zalimeni

Carole Feuerman's painted resin swimmer 'Balance' is currently on display at Cavalier Gallery in Greenwich, Connecticut.  Titled 'Contemporary Realism,' this exhibition runs the gamut of current artists working in the photo- and hyperreal realm of representation. The show seeks to contextualize modern artist's takes on Realism, situating its aims within the larger historical scope of of the practice. 

Balance ,  2013- oil on resin

Balance, 2013- oil on resin

Since opening on October 23, the group show has garnered attention from the Greenwich Post, receiving a praising writeup on its offerings last week.  Carole's piece was particularly listed as standout sculpture, being named the exemplar of realistic representation within the show.

Cavalier Gallery is located at 405 Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich, Connecticut.  Be sure to take in the show yourself before its November 16 conclusion.

If you have already been to the show, what are your thoughts? Post to the comment bar below or directly contact info@carolefeuerman.com with your opinion. 

OPENING TOMORROW - Feuerman Solo Show at Octavia Houston

by Kelsey Zalimeni

Finally, the opening of Carole Feuerman's solo show at Octavia Gallery in Houston, Texas is upon us.  This Thursday October 30th from 5-8pm, Octavia will open its doors to exhibit Carole's latest resin and bronze sculptures along with two brand-new prints.   

Miniature Serena   , 2014    Painted resin-   10 x 17 x 8 inches

Miniature Serena, 2014

Painted resin- 10 x 17 x 8 inches

Earlier in the day before the evening opening, Carole will be hosting an artist's talk and Swimmers book signing at the gallery.  Limited copies of her book will be available for purchase and signing at the venue.  Carole's talk begins at 10am, followed by a brief Q&A session and book signing period until 12 noon.

Mark your calendars for this Thursday's events- not to be missed if you are in the Houston area!

October 30th Opening: Feuerman at Octavia | Houston

by Kelsey Zalimeni

OCTAVIA ART GALLERY in Houston, Texas is just two weeks away from opening its show of Carole Feuerman's most recent works.  The exhibition contains three oil-painted resin pieces, one bronze, and two large prints, all completed within the last two years. 

Christina,   2014, created in 2013 specifically for these Octavia showings, is one of the three featured painted resin sculptures on display.

Christina, 2014, created in 2013 specifically for these Octavia showings, is one of the three featured painted resin sculptures on display.

The opening is to take place at Octavia on October 30th from 5-8pm.  The event will also showcase Carole's newly published book, Swimmers, available for purchase and autograph on-site. This will be Carole's first solo showing in Houston, no doubt a grand introduction to the Texas art scene. 

Miniature Serena,  2014

Miniature Serena, 2014

Click HERE to visit the gallery website and peruse the featured Feuerman works. If you're in the area for the opening, be sure to drop by to meet the artist and see her work in person.