The Union for Contemporary Art
“The Union for Contemporary Art strengthens the cultural and social landscape of our community by using the arts as a vehicle to inspire positive social change”
- The Union for Contemporary Art’s Mission Statement .
Located in North Omaha, the Union empowers the community–including artists– by building partnerships with the surrounding Omaha area with the intention of inspiring collaboration and conversation towards social change.
Amongst their diverse projects, The Union’s Wanda D. Ewing Gallery houses installations and exhibits that echo their mission statement of advocacy for civic engagement and social justice.
The Union’s gallery was dedicated to local artist, Wanda D. Ewing, after her death in 2013. The annual Wanda D. Ewing Commission “supports the production and presentation of new work by a woman artist of the African diaspora” in order to continue Ewing’s legacy of bringing greater representation to women of color in gallery settings where they traditionally have been invisible . Through the gallery and commission, women of color artists have a space to add their voices, through their art, to a larger conversation of social justice.
Wanda D. Ewing’s Art
Ewing’s art “ranged from traditional print media to painting, sculpture, and fiber arts, and was influenced by folk-art aesthetics and the depiction –and lack thereof– of African-American women in popular culture and the canon of art history” .
As a Nebraskan, her art has shaped various conversations within the Omaha community by creating art that “encouraged dialogue around questions of who is allowed to make, see, and be seen in visual culture, and whether the arts look like the communities we live in, challenging her audiences to believe in the transformative power of art to conjure images where people might be themselves wherever they can see themselves” .
Wanda D. Ewing Gallery
Vanessa German’s installation sometimes.we.cannot.be.with.our.bodies. was being displayed in the Wanda D. Ewing Gallery was displayed from September 14th through November 30th, 2019. German describes the multimedia installation as “a dimensional living reckoning. the living reckoning is bold, eruptive, disruptive work against systems & pathologies that oppress & subvert overt & covert violence onto & into the lives & humanity of marginalized people on this land”. Patrick Mainelli, the Union’s Communication Manager, describes German’s instillation as “shedding light on stories and bodies that are not seen,” specifically black lives lost to police violence and black trans women who have been murdered but remain invisible to the criminal justice system.
When looking through the photos of Vanessa German's installantion, please look at them in order as that reflects the way the installation was meant to be experienced.
After walking through the latest exhibit in the Wanda D. Ewing Gallery, we advise viewers to explore the neighborhood surrounding the Union and enjoy a great cup of coffee at (drips), a meal at Emory’s, and open mic night every Tuesday at Culxr House. Keep an eye out for food pop ups in the area that often feature vegan brunches.
Wanda D. Ewing’s Echoes throughout the Community
Ewing’s “art was confrontational, sometimes uncomfortable, and made us think” . Wanda Ewing’s legacy is made visible and honored through the gallery at the Union. Her presence in the community has fostered a platform for national artists. Her art invited viewers to think more critically about gender, race, and representation; the Wanda D. Ewing Gallery honors Ewing's legacy by providing space for artists to continue the conversation surrounding these important issues.