The Particular Past 
February 14 - May 20, 2018


The Particular Past explores the spaces between knowledge and belief.  By rewriting and reimagining past and present, these artists embody our political and cultural moment where expertise, truth, and even the past are malleable.  Shifting between witness and advocate, these artists alternately illuminate and gaslight their way through a conversation on the value of knowledge. 

We are in a time where ideology trumps truth, all evidence is suspect, and social and institutional trust seem like notions of the past.   In this moment of seemingly capricious truth, The Particular Past does not acquiesce and ebb toward postmodernity, but embraces open discussion.   Artists in this exhibition demonstrate the tension between deities and defiance through objects, ideas, and experiences helps us come to terms with this moment of radical social and political change.  In an effort to understand this epic shift in ho we see the world, this exhibition functions as an act of collective introspection.

Jessica Walker and Jessica Posner interrogate historical narratives through a subversive cultural lens, employing stereotypes to survey the body politic.   Layered constructions by Tom Bendtsen and Donald Porcaro intermingle foundations of knowledge with the fundamentals of civilization.   Manicured forms create structures that act as architectonic talismans of paper and stone.

Sharka Hyland presents visions of America through pencil drawings that explore how literary language transcends the distinction between the verbal and the visual.  Bang Geul Han projects a more jarring reality through her 2017 piece Through the Gaps Between My Teeth, which deconstructs the transcript from President Trump’s Access Hollywood tape, using his transgressive words in a generative animation that reassembles the text to form accounts of sexual assault posted on Twitter.

Andrew Ellis Johnson’s Strewn shows pigs in a field of books, rooting around, eating, lounging in a muddy library.  Johnson notes about this piece that “In fiction, swine have acted as agents of both revolution and repression; in reality, they have been agents of anti-intellectualism. During Pol Pot’s regime in Cambodia, the National Library was used as a stable and piggery. Its books fueled cooking fires, their pages rolled for cigarette papers. … The uneducated were glorified - as they are in other countries today.”

Works in The Particular Past question the broader implications of our actions and attitudes toward truth and justice.  Looking to the past for inspiration, these artists work within a critical framework that aspires to an ethical, just, and self-aware humanism rooted in democratic principles.

Ongoing Events and Exhibitions:

Roger Loos: Stone ‌Koans

An exhibition of stone works by Roger Loos. Four works remain on display in the garden walk (between Trexler library and Baker Center for the Arts). Exhibition runs through 2018.


Gods Eyes by Jen Huh will remain on extended loan and is on view in the Baker Center for the Arts Galleria through 2018. Jen Huh is showing five of her God's eyes sculptures as an overhead installation adjacent to the pitched glass atrium ceiling.

The Martin Art Gallery is open Tuesday - Saturday 12 - 8pm, and The Martin Art Gallery's Galleria Space is open Monday - Sunday, 9:00am - 11:00pm*.  All of our exhibitions and programming are free and open to the public.  For further information, please visit, or call us at 484 664 3467

Artists may submit an exhibition packet or proposal for consideration to the gallery. Packets should include contact information and web portfolio link. Our gallery mailing address is: Martin Art Gallery, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown, PA 18104. Proposals will be accepted on an ongoing/rolling basis, and prospective artists will be contacted by the gallery. Please do not submit original art work as the gallery cannot be responsible for caring for or returning unsolicited submissions. Promotional materials submitted for consideration will not be returned.

All art images are the property of Martin Art Gallery, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania. Any reproduction or distribution of this material without the expressed, written consent of the Martin Art Gallery is prohibited and a violation of federal law. All rights reserved.