The exhibition “Tradition Interrupted” is shown at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum

The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum at Saginaw Valley State University presents a new exhibition entitled “Tradition Interrupted” which opens to the public on Saturday, February 19.

Tradition Interrupted, organized by Bedford Gallery at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, California, explores how artists weave contemporary ideas with traditional arts and crafts to create thought-provoking hybrid images and objects that capture the attention of the attracted the world.

The 12 artists of this show and their traditions hail from all corners of the world: Faig Ahmed (Azerbaijan), Dinh Q. Lê (Vietnam), Serge Attukwei Clottey (Ghana), Jaydan Moore (Virginia), Camille Eskell (New York), Ronna Neuenschwander (Oregon), Mounir Fatmi (France and Morocco), Ramekon O’Arwisters (California), Ana Gómez (Mexico), Anila Quayyum Agha (Pakistan), Shirin Hosseinvand (Iran), Jason Seife (Florida), Suzanne Husky (France and California) and Steven Young Lee (Montana). From carpets and mosaics to metalwork and ceramics, they fuse centuries-old arts and crafts customs with innovative techniques that disrupt tradition while still working with the past.

“The artists featured in ‘Tradition Interrupted’ show how they use memories and past experiences, particularly family and cultural traditions, to create artworks that speak of them in a personal way,” explained Andrea Ondish, Curator of Education. “These artists are not only influenced by the crafts of their cultural past, but fuse them with innovative techniques of today to create a whole new visual culture. This becomes a new art story – it’s powerful and insightful.”

Artists have shared the trepidation they felt in conceiving and creating their art, but in the process of unraveling tradition, these artists embrace and advance it. Ancestral memories and political history – which risk being forgotten in our fast-moving, digital world – are the focus here. It’s harder to lose sight of something that’s staring straight at you.

Pakistani-American artist Anila Quayyum Agha integrates intricate Islamic patterns with textile processes such as embroidery and screen printing to create architectural light installations. Her large-scale sculptures mimic Moorish mosques, spaces that women are often not allowed to enter, yet the materials she uses often refer to an artistic practice historically dominated by women. Through this irony, Agha processes both the beauty and suffering associated with cultural traditions.

In his work, the artist Mounir Fatmi uses discarded technology and media objects such as typewriters and VHS cassettes as materials to question religion, collective memory and the dichotomy of East and West. His installation “Maximum Sensation” consists of 14 skateboards, each covered with a fragment of a Muslim prayer rug. This hybrid of Western popular culture and Eastern religion prompts viewers to consider potential similarities between the two and emphasizes how globalization enables this cross-pollination.

The artists of Tradition Interrupted attempt to reconsider the universal, timeless truths and the comfortable and uncomfortable stories of their heritage. In this way, they uncover transmissions of the past to explore the future. The final task is left to the viewer: to consider aspects of the past, embrace current and future traditions, and reflect on what these shifts and changes mean for all of us as we move on.

Tradition Interrupted will be on view at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum from February 19th to June 18th. An online version of the exhibition will also be available.

The exhibition program includes the following events. Each session takes place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m

April 9: Create and photograph while weaving like artist Dinh Q. Lê.
May 7th: Create and take a paper mosaic collage like artist Shirin Hosseninvand
June 4: Create and take a web and mixed media sculpture like artist Ramekon O’Arwisters.

This exhibition is made possible by grants from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum is located on the Saginaw Valley State University campus at 7400 Bay Road, Saginaw, MI. The opening hours of the museum are Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 989-64-7125 or visit the museum’s website at

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