Duality exhibit explores relationships of opposites


Kelly Hueckman, Opinion Editor

The Annex Art Gallery’s current exhibit, Duality, showcases five artists’ interpretations of the relationship between opposites.

The exhibit has two featured artists, Wisconsin-based artist Neheimah Edwards and Jawaune Johnson from Missouri.

Edwards’ paintings include abstract figures of the angel and the devil that represent the daily moral struggles of life.

“I use angel and demon imagery to signify our morality and vices, or more plainly, the choices we make with the options life presents to us,” Edwards said.

Edwards said that his work represents the duality that people face everyday.

“It showcases two opposing entities that desire opposing outcomes,” he said. “This dual nature is something that everyone has inside of them and oftentimes battles with nature to live out reality.”

He said that he hopes viewers can understand the weight of their decisions.

“I would like viewers to understand that the outcome of our lives are determined by the quality of the choices … and the quality of our choices we make are determined by the battle that we wrestle within us,” he said.

Edward said he hopes that, after seeing his pieces, viewers will aim to follow their moral compass wisely.

“… as painful as it may seem sometimes, always strive for your inner angel to conquer your inner demon,” he said.

Viewers won’t be the only ones to get something out of the exhibit, Edwards said, but the artists too.

Photos: Willem Flaugher / The Advance-Titan — The Duality exhibit can be seen in the Annex Gallery through Oct. 6.

Edwards said that exhibiting his work with Johnson has taught him about the benefits of working with like-minded people.

“Exhibiting with Jawaune has been a great experience as we share similar themes in our work, plus he is a talented and very genuine person,” Edwards said. “From this exhibit, I take away that working together to attain a shared goal can very well exceed what an individual can do alone.”

Alongside Edwards’, Johnson’s paintings feature bright, abstract figures that he says are about transitioning into different phases of life.

“The purpose of these bodies of work was to convey completion,” Johnson said. “Through completion comes death, transformation and rebirth.”

He said that “the art of letting go” is a common theme throughout his artwork.

“We decide that, in order to excel, we must let go,” he said. “This is a part of the human experience.”

Johnson said that he looked at this concept through the lens of his experience during the pandemic and how it affected him.

He said that while he struggled with mental health, he ultimately learned from his hardships.

“Within this pandemic … I’ve experienced a lot of anguish, sadness, frustrationion, anger,” he said. “As I was processing these emotions, I realized these strong feelings are my teachers.”

While Johnson said his work is inspired by his own life, viewers will likely find fragments of themselves in his work due to its fluid, abstract nature.

“My work is a reflection of me,” he said. “My work has multiple truths and realizations, but it is not bound.”

Because of this, viewers can find themselves in the duality of this exhibit through Johnson’s work.

Johnson said that viewing his work is viewing not only him, but yourself as well.

“When you see my work, you see the wholeness, the duality, of me, you, we,” he said. “That’s why when people see my work, they see themselves. But they decided to look, I just provided the mirror.”

Photo: Willem Flaugher / The Advance-Titan

The exhibit will be on display in the Annex Gallery through Oct. 6. More of Edwards and Johnson’s work can be found on their Instagram pages, @nemogreater and @momgotchicken.