Marginalized Voices

by | Dec 14, 2020 | In the Spotlight.

Artwork descriptions by Janice Glowski, Ph.D. and Magda Parasidis

Otterbein Art Exhibitions Put Social Justice Issues on Display

The Otterbein Department of Art and Art History has opened the University’s museum and gallery spaces this year to the issues of labor justice, the poor working-class, immigration and systemic racism with three exhibitions, two during fall semester and one during spring semester. 

According to Museum and Galleries Director Janice Glowski, the Department wants those who see the exhibits to ask where they see themselves in the art, the stories and the exhibition themes. She hopes they will allow themselves to be open to change and being uncomfortable because that, Glowski said, is when the greatest learning occurs. 

“Part of Otterbein’s educational mission is to train students to think critically, clearly and in an informed way about the narratives that dominate our social discourse,” said Glowski. “Importantly, we are asking the viewer to question, to look deeper into their understandings and to ask themselves difficult and sometimes uncomfortable questions.”

The three exhibitions — Magda Parasidis: Ghosts in Sunlight, On(c)es Forgotten and Valentino Dixon: Journey to Freedom — are challenging longheld assumptions about poverty, race and our country’s history. These exhibitions are meant to question the single narrative by directly addressing social issues through an aesthetic lens, present new voices and share often untold narratives.

“We are demonstrating that the Otterbein community is willing to commit to doing the hard work of listening, learning, being honest and moving toward shared truths. We are willing to engage in the difficult work of healing, so we can create the possibility of jettisoning the notion that there is a hierarchy of human value,” she said.

All exhibits are free and open to the public. Visit for more information on hours and location.

Kelly & Kyle Phelps
28 x 22 x 10 inches
ceramic mixed media

Kelly and Kyle Phelps’ large-scale, wall-mounted art is arresting and relatable. Naturalistic depictions of miners, machinists and welders show poignant moments when weary laborers are on break, at shift’s end or nearly collapsed under the weight of plant closings and layoffs. Grace, like Phelps’ other work, is built of found objects (e.g. metal, bandana, lipstick tube) from abandoned factories across the rural Midwest.

Valentino Dixon
color pencil on paper
20 x 16 inches

Vibrant drawings of golf courses brought Valentino Dixon’s twenty-seven years of wrongful incarceration, and artistic talents, to the national stage. Since gaining his freedom, the artist has expanded his repertoire to include bucolic landscapes, wild animals in fantastical surroundings and imagery touched by the surreal. In Hummingbird, Dixon depicts a golf ball-headed bird in mid-flight and holding a fencing sword, disarming the viewer with whimsy.

Magda Parasidis
Chasm / The Distance
C-print, ink marker
24 x 36 inches
1993 – 2018

The Distance, inspired by Ta-nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, reads, “this chasm makes itself known to us in all kinds of ways,” referring to the socioeconomic distance between the urban youth of the projects and their more affluent counterparts over the bridge. Parasidis explores what it might look like to use this awareness as a nutrient for the making of art and social consciousness.

Janice Glowski, Ph.D, is the museum and galleries director and teaches art history and museum studies at Otterbein. She is co-founder of the Otterbein and the “Arts: Opening Doors to the World” program.

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