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Queens Chronicle

Addressing trauma, both mental and ecological

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Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 2:24 pm, Thu Oct 31, 2019.

Artistic inspiration often comes from the most unexpected places.

Such is the case with two exhibitions running at the LIC Arts Open Gallery at The Factory in Long Island City. One remains on display only through Nov. 2, while the other will be on view until Nov. 14.

Filling Gallery One is a photo installation entitled “No Exit,” a maze of exit signs that focuses on post-traumatic resilience.

According to Kate Bubacz, the photo director for BuzzFeed News and the artist behind the display, it “opens dialogue on how to process things that are difficult.” Bubacz hopes to raise awareness of this widespread phenomenon, which she said is usually associated with war but actually has a wide range of causes and symptoms.

The exhibit serves as both a visual and interactive metaphor, exploring the difficulties and resilience that can merge in the aftermath of trauma.

The exit signs that make up the installation are displayed in such a way as to distort their original purpose of providing a way out, creating a sensation in visitors that might be comparable to chasing ghosts.

“You can walk through and get lost in it,” Bubacz said. “It’s big but not infinite.” And it’s appropriate for all ages.

While most of the photos in the exhibit were taken over the past three years, some date to a couple of years earlier, said Bubacz.

The artist, who works in combat journalism, is particularly concerned that many cases of post-traumatic stress disorder are widely unreported. She indicated that women are more likely to report it than men.

The exhibition serves as a reminder that true change and healing can be part of a long, patient process.

As a follow-up, a panel discussion on PTSD will be held on the closing day of the exhibition, Nov. 2, from 4 to 7 p.m. Bubacz, for whom this marks her first public art installation, will host the event, which will focus on both the effects and treatment opportunities for the general population and women in particular.

Richard Mazda, who curated the exhibit, said it is probably the “largest single installation piece LIC Arts Open has showed.”

Across the hall in Gallery Two is “Recovered Landscapes Newtown Creek,” a solo exhibit of paintings by John Kitses, who created the works over the past year.

The creek, a 3.5-mile long tributary of the East River that forms the westernmost border between Brooklyn and Queens, was once a rich natural complex of wetlands, woods and thriving marine life. Today, it is one of the most polluted waterways in the nation.

To call attention to the issue and to create awareness of the revival of the creek, Kitses created a suite of large-scale (60-by-25-inch) watercolor paintings on paper, as well as small inkjet reproductions that are being used for fundraising.

A resident of Jackson Heights who hails from Massachusetts, Kitses said he grew up in an area “with strong environmental protections,” spiking his interest in the struggle between nature and development.

He credits the Newtown Creek Alliance with assisting on the project, even affording him the opportunity to get onto the creek in a boat, where he did some of the painting.

“It was fantastic,” he said. “A great new way to paint.”

He hopes visitors to the exhibition will take away “a greater appreciation for watercolor and the boundaries it can push as a medium,” while recognizing “the importance of landscapes as subject matter and the importance of environmentalism.”

‘No Exit’ and ‘Recovered Landscapes Newton Creek’

When: Through Sat., Nov. 2 (‘No Exit’) and Thu., Nov. 14 ‘Newtown Creek’)

Where: The Factory LIC, 30-30 47 Ave., Long Island City

Entry: Free. (718) 392-0722,

gallery@licartsopen.org

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