About the Gallery

The gallery was named the Wallace Barnes and Barbara Hackman Franklin Art Gallery in honor of Wallace Barnes, chairman of the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission, and retired chairman and CEO of the Barnes Group, Inc. (Bristol), and his wife Barbara Hackman Franklin, a former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and president and CEO of Barbara Franklin Enterprises, headquartered in Washington, D.C.

The Barnes-Franklin Art Gallery is open Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. and by appointment. For more information, contact Arthur Simoes.

Joe Bun Keo, “your subtleties, they strangle me”

Tunxis will hold an Opening Reception for this new exhibit on Thursday, March 9, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the Barnes-Franklin Gallery. Light refreshments will be available.

The exhibit runs from March 6 through March 21.

Artist Statement:

“Pain may be a pedestal.” – Bill Bollinger

“Nothing is simply self-sufficient work or a needy prop; everything has a secret.” – Marina Vishmidt

Within a post-studio practice, I am unpacking my Khmer (Cambodian)-American intergenerational trauma through the scope of neomaterialism, value systems in discourse, and power objects. Displaying the breaking of cycles is the goal; establishing compassionate futures is the perpetual challenge.

I am assessing my relationship with objects, symbols, and situations mutually barnacled to memories, traumas, and dreams stemming from my life as a child of Cambodian refugees and Khmer Rouge genocide survivors. The shamanistic energy extracted from things elevates them into a realm of extreme sensitivity and poignancy. Pain management and healing resonates through the work. Survival mode and task-oriented laser focus stampedes over empathy and mindfulness. The unraveling is a revelation and a revolution.

The allure of found objects and readymades evolves to shifting the focus of labor from production to that of consumption. The unreadymade makes more sense, for the authority of the artist’s hand is overshadowed by the immortality of the commodity. Conceptualism and installation, a mode centered on relations and products, seem so perfect a vessel and vehicle.

The rigid structural walls of a space adjacent to a worktable isn’t required nor desired in my practice, for the action can travel, it can be truncated, consolidated, modular and mobile. Parallel to fleeing and navigating dangerous mine-filled jungle terrains, this approach to art making reflects that spirit of scrappiness and resourcefulness. Setting, location, and physical boundaries grow antiquated; change is faster than ever, the permanent residency reveals itself as a lie. Diaspora, once birthed, doesn’t die. The truth I seek is that materialism is as close as we get to living forever, the things of the world created by humans and injected with meaning by circumstances, will outlast every one of us. I am here to understand it and use it to be a better caretaker of the next generation’s needs.

Think about those molded pulp-fiber beverage trays given out by drive-thru restaurants. They often aren’t strong enough for the supersized drinks we all love. Four cavities for four drinks, and there’s always a time where you wish there were a few more spots for that extra Diet Coke or Caffe Americano. Each tray, each moment, a situation of overextension. There are experiences of trying to handle more than is naturally possible. Multi-tasking is championed in our capitalist hustle culture, but slow down and sit on the stresses and anxieties of taking on more than we are capable of. To find solutions to our inconveniences, each instance, personalized, specific to that time, place, and condition. A value of utility, the worth of sentimental associations of grabbing your loved one’s favorite bite, and the commercial price tag of fabrication hours and marketing needs. This is what I’d like to call, Keomaterialism, neomaterialism blasted with the trauma-informed gauntlet of possession justification. In the bigger picture, our material belongings can thrive in the past, present, and future. We are just stewards to a kingdom beyond our jurisdiction and comprehension.