Kristina Daukintyte Aas "Viktoria II" (detail)

Caron Tabb: Humanity Is Not A Spectator Sport by Casey Curry

In a recent interview, social psychologist Robert Livingston argued: “[when] people build walls to insulate what they currently believe to be true … relationships provide an opening within that wall for a different perspective to enter.” For artist Caron Tabb, these words were a call to action igniting a years-long reckoning with her role and culpability as a White woman in a deeply inequitable world. 

Caron Tabb, Humanity Is Not A Spectator Sport (detail) 2021. Found objects (basketball hoop, baseball bat, soccer balls, baseballs, softball, basketballs, golf balls, Barbie doll, bicycle spokes and chain), leather, wood, monofilament, 25 x 20 x 89 inches. Photo: Emma Gelbard.


That reckoning takes visual form in her solo show, Humanity Is Not A Spectator Sport on view at Beacon Gallery in Boston from November 5th 2021 through January 17th, 2022, (sponsored in conjunction with JArts). In the exhibition, Tabb draws upon her expertise in multiple media to craft meaning-laden materials into a visual record of moments that pushed racial equity and social justice to the center of both in her artwork and her personal conversations. The work captures the artist grappling with the election of Donald Trump, the racial murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery, as well as the endemic issues surfaced by COVID-19. Inspired in part by Dr. Livingston, Tabb’s response to these events involved connecting with those close to her for frank and honest discussions. The conceptual mixed-media artworks responding to those conversations take varied forms. 

Caron Tabb, Black, White, Asian, or Indigenous. Jew or Arab; We all Bleed The Same Red, 2021. Yarn, fabric, leather, paper, nylon, cording, rope, latex paint, approximately 75 x 9 inches. Photo: Julia Featheringill.

Caron Tabb, Black, White, Asian, or Indigenous. Jew or Arab; We all Bleed The Same Red (detail), 2021. Yarn, fabric, leather, paper, nylon, cording, rope, latex paint, approximately 75 x 9 inches. Photo: Julia Featheringill.

A significant anchor of the exhibition is a monumental quilt entitled Fabric of Humanity – Repairing My World. With over 1,400 textile segments, each offering a window into the artist’s life and her larger community, the quilt grew to memorialize love and loss, pinnacles of careers, and nadirs of grief. Interwoven within were a variety of textiles representing Tabb’s own life: her three immigrations, (South Africa, Israel, US), as well as her manifold identities, including her deeply held Jewish faith and a proud role as a mother. The quilt is stitched together in a manner that feels both organized and purposefully random. The uneven edges suggest that the quilt is still growing and changing, similar to how our lives are never quite complete: there’s always room to add a block or two here or there. 

Caron Tabb, Fabric of Humanity – Repairing My World, 2021. Fabric, leather, yarn, thread, paper, ribbon, nylon, cardboard, approximately 140 x 110 inches. Photo: Julia Featheringill.

Caron Tabb, Fabric of Humanity – Repairing My World (detail), 2021. Fabric, leather, yarn, thread, paper, ribbon, nylon, cardboard, approximately 140 x 110 inches. Photo: Julia Featheringill.

In What Now; Making Space, the artist follows a similar impulse to make space for the stories and realities of others. This exhibition within an exhibition hosts a series of works by up-and-coming local Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) artists curated by the curator, artist, and activist known as Meclina. Tabb describes: With What Now; Making Space there is an intention of providing a visual example of how we can make space for others. This conscious choice is to remind me and other viewers—particularly privileged ones—that we most of all are the ones that need to make room. It’s time to find ways to foster equity. 

Caron Tabb, My Invisible Backpack, 2021. Canvas, latex paint, artists’ hair, thread, 96 x 60 x 8 inches.

Caron Tabb, My Invisible Backpack (detail), 2021. Canvas, latex paint, artists’ hair, thread, 96 x 60 x 8 inches.

Tabb’s works are meant to provoke and inspire. They are a call to opt in that urge viewers towards self-reflection and difficult conversations. Humanity is not a spectator sport is available for in-person viewing in Boston at Beacon Gallery (524B Harrison Ave, Boston) through January 17, 2022. Personal online tours are also available. More information can be found on Beacon Gallery’s website, beacongallery.com 

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