Best First Solo Show

This year, I found myself more than once in a gallery having just heard about some national tragedy or injustice, wondering how in the hell art could get us out of this. In Dyin’ by tha Gun, recent Watkins grad Marlos E’van exhibited two dozen paintings and sculptures that laid bare the psychological trauma of police violence and the public’s complicity in watching it play out. E’van transfers cultural attitudes about race into his work by amplifying them. A child holds his fists up, his misshapen face and bugged-out eyes wrenched in pain; a “wanted” poster shows not a man but a monster; a teen mom leans her head back as she wails, her tiny hands trying to cover her pregnant belly. Dyin’ by tha Gun didn’t provide answers to our racial dilemmas — nor did it claim to. What it did do might be even more important — it pleaded with us to reconsider what our gallery experience should be. ERICA CICCARONE

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