Trouble in Paradise

Three statues representing Justice stand in the gallery space surrounded by other hanging artworks.

Installation view, Trouble in Paradise, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 1989.

Hayden Gallery
Featured Artists
Harry Bartnick
Bread & Puppet Theater
Jay Critchley
Peggy Diggs
Karin F. Giusti
David T. Hanson
Nancy Jenner
Cary S. Leibowitz
Yim Lim
Paul Minotto
Pearson Post Industries
Annee Spileos Scott
Heddi Vaughan Siebel
Carrie Mae Weems
Janet Zweig
Explore all artists who have exhibited at the List in our Artist Index.

Trouble in Paradise presents the work of fourteen New England artists or artist-teams working in diverse mediums who address many of the urgent political and social optics which challenge the United States today.

We are privileged to live in a region with a venerable cultural landscape as well as a tradition of political, social, and intellectual leadership, all within a safe and prosperous nation where democracy has been firmly in place for over 200 years. But because of these blessings, we have the responsibility, guaranteed by the Constitution’s freedom of expression, to speak out against the wrongs within our society.

Much of the excitement—and the challenge—of contemporary art is its relevance to the current political and social climate. Several of the works presented here were created in reaction to political events of the past few months, including a recent Supreme Court decision regarding discrimination in the workplace, the American flag, reproductive rights, and Congressional actions to limit artistic expression, while others confront difficult issues which have long plagued this nation. 

Trouble in Paradise confronts censorship, racism, sexism, homelessness, militarism, hazardous waste, AIDS, domestic violence, and substance abuse, among other issues. These are disturbing, unpleasant topics; be forewarned that these artists do not make necessarily pleasant art. They put their talents to the service of exposing and expressing issues that will not let them alone. If this art provokes thought, then it has begun to work; if it promotes lasting change, then it has succeeded. 

The exhibition explores the tension between notions of paradise—a system of democratic government, the natural landscape, the placid promise of the suburban family home, etc.— and contemporary conditions that subvert it. 

Publication available (ISBN: 0-938437-27-5). An illustrated catalogue featuring an introductory essay and a discussion of the work of each artist, as well as a biography and bibliography.