Mary Jean Canziani
Basic Anxiety—A New Psychobiological Concept, 2017
Acrylic on repurposed book, 9 1/2 x 13 in. Courtesy of the artist.
“Oh, what a world! What a world!” are the last words spoken by the Wicked Witch of the West as she melts away in the film, The Wizard of Oz. Despite her status as a villain, there is pathos in those final words: Was she bemoaning her fate at the hands of a cruel world, or wistfully lamenting the beauty of the world as she passed from it? The melting witch is an apt metaphor for the loss of control many people felt in the wake of the contentious 2016 presidential election. Since then, American society has become increasingly polarized, with a heightened state of anxiety about the future of the country and the world. The Main Gallery exhibition Oh, What a World! What a World! examines how artists are responding to these recent changes. With new urgency, their work addresses issues such as climate change, immigration, politics, gender identity, race relations, feminism, and the state of our democracy.