Icon/Effigy is an exhibition which draws from the traditions of native sculpture and the work of important contemporary artists to explore the symbolic role of portraiture. In traditional African and Oceanic art, effigies of ancestors and leaders are the fulcrum of social ritual. These representations symbolically guard and instruct the society and perpetuate tradition and history. More than just portraits of a person, they are abstracted icons that embody the spiritual values that are passed on to successive generations.
Icon/Effigy features several monumental figures that once stood at the very center of their communities' lives. In Western art, portraiture plays a defining role in the relationship between the artist and society. In making a portrait, the artist elevates the image of an individual to a public statement of status or emotion, or an icon of the artist's style. The contemporary element of Icon/Effigy will be focused on the work of artists who have made the practice of portraiture and self-portraiture fundamental to their innovations.