Via an email from a friend, this article was brought to my attention. . .
Exhibits Explore How Libraries Define Us
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Muihead's exhibit was the first of a three-artist series entitled "Construction/Destruction," featuring art created specifically for the Barrington Library. In addition to paintings, Muirhead's exhibit also included an outdoor sculpture entitled Loop. Using clear acrylic, Muirhead fashioned three-feet high letters and formed them in a circle. Only by reading from the inside out, could the observer see what the letters spelled: "The Truth."
"This idea came to me from my childhood growing up as a Jehovah's Witness," Muirhead said. He explained that every year, thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses gathered at a central meeting point, often at a major sports arena, to hold a study convention.
"I attended these conventions and remember being captivated by the way the community unveiled that year's ministry focus: Waist-high letters placed in the center of the field, spelling out the theme. To belong to and be accepted by the community, one has to accept 'the truth' of the Jehovah Witness lens. I found this notion of "the truth" increasingly problematic as I expanded my access to information through the study of art."
Although Muirhead ended his association with the Jehovah's Witness in his teenage years, the experience of growing up in a fundamentalist religious sect fueled artistic tension.
"Growing up in the shadow of an extended community's apocalyptic vision, my childhood took on a particularly gravity, as every decision carried with it the weight of my soul's salvation."
This tension was dramatically revealed in a digital video installation in which Muirhead stacked Jehovah's Witnesses books and pamphlets into a cairn-like structure. The tower of books, 5 feet 8 inches tall and 145 pounds, Muirheads weight and height when he left the religion in 1991, investigates the struggle between growth, information and balance.
"These books would never be allowed in a library," Muirhead said. "Jehovah's Witness leaders did not want their followers inside libraries, where information often contradicts 'The Truth.'"
Muirhead, who lives with his wife on Chicago's North Side, graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In addition to owning an exhibition and service and consulting business, he teaches painting at the Chicago High School for the Arts in Bronzeville.