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Artists strike similar themes in show

Leslie Powell exhibit has overtones of cultural heritage, feminism

Two out-of-state artists will illustrate their passion for cultural heritage, feminism and immigration in "Capas," the Leslie Powell Foundation Gallery's first exhibit of the year, beginning with a reception at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Texas resident Morgan Page and Oregon resident Lilia Berenice Hernandez Galusha come from different backgrounds, yet present similar themes and evoke universal emotions in the exhibit, which will remain free and open to the public through Feb. 23. 

Exposure to diversity will promote understanding of cultural differences within the Lawton-Fort Sill community, according to Matthew Hughes, executive director of the gallery. 

Page's and Galusha's work is presented in the forms of collage, painting, embroidery and mixed media, which includes abstract landscapes and figures, along with symbols that represent ancestral lines.

Page's work focuses on her grandmothers: her paternal grandmother, who immigrated from Mexico, and her maternal grandmother, who immigrated from Ireland during the mid-19th century potato famine. 

A Mexican American born in Mexico, Galusha immigrated to Arkansas when she was 5 years old. Her work is a complex combination of Mexican and American cultures, as well as personal experiences and memories.

Lilia Berenice Hernandez Galusha

Galusha said one goal of her work is to encourage conversation about important political topics such as immigration.

"Before I immigrated here when I was 5, there was a time that I was undocumented, along with my family, so I know what that feels like," she said. "Not everybody is that lucky to get past that immigration process."

She hopes her work also opens a window for viewers to see the obstacles that individuals in groups such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and DREAMers (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) face on a daily basis.

"It's a matter of having everybody else understand that and know that the struggle is definitely real," she said.

Other works reflect her upbringing. For over 20 years she lived in Arkansas, where she learned how to embroider, as well as cross-stitch and quilt from her grandmother and her aunts.

Her feminist artwork represents the challenges women overcome in Mexican culture and in patriarchal society. Though some perceive embroidery  a traditionally feminine art medium  to be a very technical, monotonous action that is quiet and subdued, it is just the opposite, according to Galusha. 

By using embroidery to convey controversial topics such as immigration policies, she can help viewers perceive the complexity that has always been a component of embroidery, whether they previously realized the complexity or not. 

"There's something else to it. There's something deeper. There's a meaning. There's a reason why we hold on to the quilts our families have made," she said. "There's history."

Galusha also believes artists, particularly women, should support each other, like Galusha and Page support each other.

"As women in the art world, we're not always represented and where we come from is not always represented," Galusha said. "The fact that we're collaborating ... and showing sisterhood and camaraderie is really important, especially in the political nature of what's happening (across the nation), regardless of where you stand."

Morgan Page

Page said though her grandmothers' backgrounds and personalities were different, they both played influential roles in her decision to become an artist.

"My paternal grandmother was very fiery and fairly stubborn. I have heard stories about how independent and fearless she was growing up," Page said. "She had to quit school at a very young age because she was the only person in her family that spoke English and her parents needed her help."

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