Artist Keith Walsh converges Art and Politics in ‘Trotsky Dialectics’
The 49er, Cal State University Long Beach
February 12, 2020, by Julissa Villalobos
From afar, the art piece looks almost like a street map. A network of bright orange lines run up and down the piece like veins. Letters and numbers surround and cover the lines, some written out more boldly than others. Upon closer inspection, viewers can begin to recognize the names and years covering the paper.
“1918 Sedition Act.” “Jim Crow.” “Diego Rivera.” It’s a map of history.
Artist Keith Walsh spoke at the Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum Tuesday about his work, “The Trotsky Dialectics.” His piece is one of eight in the Kleefeld Contemporary’s latest exhibit, GYRE: a one-work, one-week exhibition for eight artists.
Walsh utilizes a little bit of dust from his home garage studio and colored pencils to create historical timelines that intertwine political history and social justice moments. He describes his colorful artworks as symbolic maps or “flow charts” that can be decoded and read by the viewer, allowing the viewer to discover a small history lesson.
“There [are] about three month[s] of research condensed into this little piece,” Walsh said. “It is about putting thoughts on a paper and finding the connections, the intersections and the relationships and then I get the big picture. All of a sudden the map just happens.”
According to Walsh, the directions of the lines reveal the intentions of the subject. If the line turns right on the paper, that means the event or person has taken a “right swing” or made a more conservative decision and vice versa. If the line goes straight down, the item’s intentions have not changed.
Museum docent Helen Molles found the entire explanation of Walsh’s piece fascinating since she herself lived through the events Walsh spoke about. “I absolutely loved the convergence of art, politics and racial identity,” Molles said. Walsh is the second artist in an eight artist lineup to attend The Kleefeld Contemporary’s GYRE exhibition. Part of the exhibition is a “one artist, one work” per week art talk where an artist comes in to speak about one chosen work.
“He interjected science, politics and art and all these collective ideas which he is now projecting onto us,” said attendee Thomas Cloutier. “I found it intriguing, this is about representation.”