“Chasing Unicorns: Mythologies of Progress in American Landscapes” opened earlier this month A+E Studios in New York. The show is an allegorical group exhibition that explores themes around current economic shifts and the self-assured outlook of today’s younger generations. Long ago, the figure of the unicorn once represented virginity, even drawing some relation to religious sacrifices, and ultimately, Christ. Now, one could argue the majestic (and often rainbow-colored) symbol portrays a different association: the millennial mascot.
Optimism has long since been a staple belief in the preservation of American culture, but a newfound sense of myth-making has taken us to an ulterior way of thinking, and ultimately, a new way of handling ourselves in society. Geared by a mindset that with an elemental specialness, self-assured righteousness, and perhaps a college degree, anyone in the Generation-Y category can live “magically,” this quintupled show exhibits the work of Annie Shinn, Arden Surdam, Chaney Trotter, Costanza Theodoli-Braschi, and Vernon O’Meally.
Represented in the show are abstract landscapes with a focus on natural environments, lackluster lifestyles that reflect failed starts regardless of education levels, a dehumanizing world without wilderness, Polaroid pictures of ghost towns in the South West, and interconnected urban life that symbolizes disintegration for societal classifications. This mythical show, curated by Allison Barker and Jessica Speiser, features the five artists’ responses to their ever-changing physical and cultural environments, conflicted between nostalgia for the past, confusion for a present day, and an oddly optimistic, ideologically satisfactory look toward the future.
“Chasing Unicorns: Mythologies of Progress in American Landscapes” is on view until April 28, 2015 at A+E Studios, 160 West Brodway.