Beyond Forgiveness is Beyond Impressive: A Glimpse into Marina Shishkina’s Newest Exhibit


Belén Yudess ’25
Copy Editor Intern

Marina Shishkina ’25 will debut her fourth exhibition entitled “Beyond Forgiveness” in the Lang Art Building on April 26. The exhibit aims to explore the intricacies behind theories of forgiveness and promise, specifically the participating artists’ respective perceptions of these broad ideas. The gallery will feature multimedia works from Andie Round CGU, Alexis Suarez PO ’26, Mel Gross ’24, Lue “LIKETHEHIGHWAY” Khoury PZ ’25, Cayman Chen CMC ’25, Eli Heart PZ ’26, Emma Limtiaco CGU, Manu(el) Dominguez PO ’25, and Tjaard van Lobën Sels HMC ’24. 

Shishkina explained that the theme for this exhibit was inspired by professor Kevin Wynter, who pushed Shishkina to engage in discussions regarding these topics. 

“I took [the class] ‘Screening Violence’ with him, and we talked a lot about violence and the aftermath [in regards to] forgiveness,” she said. “We read Jacques Derrida’s Cosmopolitan and watched a film by the Dardenne Brothers called The Son. I was really inspired by that because I really needed some forgiveness in my life, and as a great educator does, professor Wynter [challenged that] forgiveness doesn’t really exist; it’s a political strategy for people to be able to move on with their lives and be more productive. This leaves the viewer to consider the impacts of trauma and grief without the naturally expected resolution that we see in art and human behavior.” 

This is not Shishkina’s first time using elements of war and violence to create spaces of reflection, solidarity, and expression. During the summer of 2023, she curated RAW, a traveling exhibit across the west coast that amplified the voices of Ukrainian artists, with much of the art focused on the ongoing war in Ukraine. Shishkina believes that her intent behind RAW and her experience watching the involved artists grapple with forgiveness and promise continue to inform her current work. 

“[RAW] was so rooted in violence and [although there were] sections of perseverance and activism within that show, the main focus was to shock and showcase the raw emotions of these artists, and those raw emotions were violent,” she said. “For me, curating Beyond Forgiveness is really about taking a step away from ongoing anger and disappointment with current events and pushing towards a space where we start to have these conversations of, ‘what happens after this?’ The people that surround me are traumatized by the recent events that are happening, even on this campus, and there’s no better time to start talking about these issues and what we are going to do about them.” 

Therefore, Shishkina asked participating artists to showcase how they process the fallout of different transgressions to spark conversations rather than prioritize forgiveness. “I’m asking within that gallery space to spend more time thinking about reconciliation and the aftermath of this anger and violence, but not necessarily pushing for a result or a finality where we have to make a decision [to forgive],” she said. “The story [of forgiveness] is so much more complicated, and there are so many emotions that are felt: distrust, violence, collision, miscommunication. I told the artists to focus on promise and forgiveness, but I was not limiting them on the work I was looking for, which allowed me to get exactly the work I was looking for.”

Each piece dives into a different tension the artist feels is important to their personal narrative or set of values. “Manu’s working on a video project on the American dream and the kind of violence and promise that goes into those ideas, and Cayman is working with female Asian anger and how that is processed,” Shishkina said. “Tjaard created frozen moments of an explosion of four different vessels to create a physical manifestation of an explosion, and to show how manmade it is. [And] Lue is working [with] consent and complicity within a white cube space as a brown body. [Which hones in on the complicated dynamic] of being in a white educational space, but choosing to be in that white educational space.”

Shishkina expressed awe for each artist and the unique ways in which they relayed their journeys of forgiveness and promise. These sentiments were furthered by Shishkina’s goal to spend ample time getting to know each of the participants on a level she had been unable to during her former exhibits. 

“With my previous shows, I feel like I haven’t necessarily had time to sit down with the artists one-on-one and really understand the work that they’re doing,” she said. “I always had one-on-ones and we always connected, but it wasn’t something that I focused on and that has been a big mistake of mine. I’m here to highlight these artists and say how they’re feeling and what they’re up to.”

Shishkina plans on accomplishing this endeavor by designing the space to maximize the audience’s ability to connect with each individual piece in order to leave them thinking about the impact forgiveness and promise have in their own lives. 

“What I learned in curating is that you can never really know how an audience member will move through the space, so I’ve tried to push away from the chronological narrative and more towards the collective push from all the walls onto the audience,” she said. 

Shishkina’s dedication to her craft is apparent in the bold and empowering nature of every one of her exhibits. From her first gallery Lovers, Strangers, and Friends (2022), to Reprinting Claremont (2023), RAW (2023), and finally Beyond Forgiveness, Shishkina never fails to create spaces that promote meaningful introspection and motivate artists and audience members alike to come together and rejoice in the beauty and brilliance of their surroundings.

It is Shishkina’s past success that led professor Ken Gonzalez-Day to ask her to curate this exhibit, an opportunity Shishkina expressed immense gratitude towards. She also explained how an invitation to curate rather than her own initiation of a gallery changed the way she approached this project. 

“When you get asked to do a show and get invited into a space, it’s very different than when it is your initiative; when you’re invited, you [have to figure out] what’s possible and what’s not possible,” she said. “A lot of the beginning was being like ‘this is what I want to do’ and then seeing the reaction and pushing it a little bit more, especially when you’re working with people you’ve never worked with before.”

As Shishkina reflects on her curations over the last three years, she is proud of the community that has emerged in response to the collective work of her exhibits. “I think by becoming a curator, I made [an art] community myself,” she said. “I think it was what I was missing [when I first started here] and I don’t think I’m missing it now because I know so many artists, talented workers, and activists thinking through these really difficult ideas of life.”

The grand opening of Beyond Forgiveness is on April 26 at 6:00 p.m. in the Lang Art Building, with a performance by Khoury at 6:30. The gallery will remain open until May 8 and is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m daily.   

“As you engage and interact with the space, rather than prescribing forgiveness (the past) or promise (the future), we encourage you to linger in contemplation on what it means to exist in the aftermath with no resolution – to simply feel without the pressure to act.” – Marina Shishkina, Curatorial Statement


Photo Courtesy of Aidan Round CGU

Don't Miss