Skip to content
Contact USI

Describing Language: Thinking Through Access and Communication

Farhad Bahram, Jodie Cavalier, Jovencio de la Paz, Tannaz Farsi, Christine Miller, Warren Miller, Alyson Provax, Josie Love Roebuck, Xia Zhang, Yuyang Zhang

August 21 – October 2, 2021

New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art, University of Southern Indiana is proud to present Describing Language: Thinking Through Access and Communication, a group exhibition featuring works by Farhad Bahram, Jodie Cavalier, Jovencio de la Paz, Tannaz Farsi, Christine Miller, Warren Miller, Alyson Provax, Josie Love Roebuck, Xia Zhang, and Yuyang Zhang. The exhibition runs from August 21 – October 2, 2021, with gallery hours 10am – 5pm Tuesdays – Saturdays. An online research portal will also be part of this exhibition, available at

  • A poetry reading with the State Poet Laureate of Indiana, Matthew Graham, will be held on Saturday, September 11 at 5pm at the gallery, in conjunction with New Harmony Second Saturdays. 
  • A Conversation on Power and Access with artists Jovencio de la Paz, Tannaz Farsi, Christine Miller, and Xia Zhang, moderated by Carmen Brewton Denison will occur on Zoom at 3pm CT/4pm ET on October 2, 2021.

The way someone can communicate to another person can be the point where they can access their needs, wants, or desires. So often miscommunication can deny people resources and opportunities. Describing Language, a partnership with the University of Oregon’s Center for Art Research, serves as both an exhibition and a laboratory for examining the ways in which language and other methods of communication allow or deny access. 

Describing Language includes artists from both the Midwest and the West, illustrating the ways in which technology allows us to communicate and collaborate across distances and in differing environments. The featured artists address varied issues including global language and patterns of colonization, Semiotics, education, propaganda, resistance, technology, ableism, emotion, labor, and identity, which all converge in an examination around access and power. Serving as points of entry for community discussion and investigation, Describing Language is malleable and changing, inviting other examples, experiences, and learning opportunities around the theme of communication and access.

Farhad Bahram is a Chicago based artist and educator. Born in Iran, a society with stringent regulatory control over all types of communication, Bahram developed a keen interest in understanding how the performance of individual actions could affect the outcome of our social encounter. Representation of the body is central to his works, becoming a tool for dissecting identity and the imprint of coded cultural language through the amalgamation of theory and practice. His work has been reviewed and featured in Art Practical, PBS News Hour, Voice of America, the Santa Fe New Mexican, IranWire, and Eugene Weekly, among others. His practice and research have been supported by grants and awards from the Tokyo Foundation for International Research, the Office of Research at University of Michigan, Arts Endowment Committee at Indiana State University, and Ford Alumni Center at University of Oregon. Bahram is currently Assistant Professor of Digital Media Production at the Indiana State University. 

Jodie Cavalier is a project based artist working with residuals of daily life, objects, food, and language. She earned her BA from the University of California, Berkeley and MFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. She has participated in residencies including; the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Wendover, Utah; Wassaic, New York; AZ West Wagon Encampment, Joshua Tree; and ONCA in Brighton, England. Her work has been exhibited at the Schneider Museum (Ashland), the deYoung Museum (San Francisco), Pacific Film Archive (Berkeley), CoCA (Seattle), EXO Project Space (Chicago), Städelschule (Frankfurt), Practice (NYC), KSMoCA (Portland) among others.

Jovencio de la Paz (they/them) works in a space between digital technology and hand weaving. Focused on creating specialized designed software and drawing tools, de la Paz collaborates with algorithms, self-generating patterns, and computational creativity to explore the related histories of technology and the loom. The resulting textiles, hand-woven on a computerized Thread Controller loom, display a tension between the physical world and the digital, the organic and technological, and the haptic quality of cloth versus the perceived rigidity of the numerical. De la Paz is an artist, weaver, and educator and their work explores the intersection of textile processes such as weaving, dye, and stitch-work as they relate to broader concerns of language, histories of colonization, migrancy, ancient technology, and speculative futures. Interested in the ways transience and ephemerality are embodied in material, de la Paz looks at how knowledge and experiences are transmitted through society in space and time, whether semiotically by language or haptically by made things. They received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, an MFA in Fiber from Cranbrook Academy of Art, and has exhibited internationally. De la Paz is currently Assistant Professor and Curricular Head of Fibers at the University of Oregon. 

Tannaz Farsi’s practice is a configuration of objects and images that address the complicated networks around the conception of memory, history, identity, and geography. Drawing from historic cultural objects, feminist histories, and theories of displacement evidenced by long-standing colonialist and authoritarian interventions into daily life, her project-based works propose a different means of representation regarding non-western subjects and objects that obstruct singular and conventional means of identification. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States and supported through residencies including Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, MacDowell Colony, Santa Fe Art Institute and the Rauschenberg Foundation. Her work has been acknowledged by grants and awards includings a Hallie Ford Fellowship in 2014 and a Bonnie Bronson Fellowship in 2019. Born in Iran, Farsi lives and works in Eugene, OR where she is on the faculty at the University of Oregon.

Christine Miller (she/her) is a conceptual artist and curator currently based in Portland, OR. Her work centers around racial imagery, products, and histories while simultaneously reframing her own cultural identity. In addition to her own work, Christine’s curatorial practice centers on bringing underrepresented contemporary artists to the front of the Portland art community and beyond. Miller holds B.A from Hunter College (2013), and AA in Textile Surface Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology (2016). She has been the recipient of various artist grants along with participating in select artist talks and grant panels. Miller is currently working on her curated magazine Black Playground and preparing for her solo show in November. 

Warren Miller is a deaf artist based in Indianapolis, IN. His work illustrates his views of deaf culture and the deaf experience, examining both historical and modern issues. Miller has a history working in graphic design, which is reflected in his paintings through the usage of bold and bright colours, sharp lines, and uncluttered design. He has exhibited throughout the Midwest and beyond, and his artwork has been featured in various magazines and on TV. 

Alyson Provax is interested in loneliness, uncertainty, memory, and the other small but powerful specifics of living in our times. Her formal training is as a printmaker and she works in letterpress. Her work has been described as “printmaking disinterested in the perfection based traditions that exist as a form of exclusion.” Within those experimental uses of traditional techniques she often uses the potential for repetition as a drawing tool, creates original works by manipulating the printed image, or uses physical printed pieces as stills for animation, reproductions into books, blankets, posters, stickers, and billboards. Her work has been published in Poetry Northwest, The Buckman Journal, and Eleven  Eleven, and her first book was published by Volumes Volumes in 2019. She lives and works in Portland, Oregon.

Josie Love Roebuck (b. 1995) is an interdisciplinary artist from Chattanooga, TN. She received her B.F.A with an emphasis in drawing and painting, from the University of Georgia (2019), and received her M.F.A from the University of Cincinnati (2021). Roebuck’s process addresses the contemporary complexity of identifying as biracial through symbolizing pain and triumph, exclusion, and acceptance. The act of Roebuck sewing together portraits has allowed her canvas to become her paper and her needle to become her pen, in order for Roebuck to draw upon the past and present to convey a story of her experiences and her family’s experiences. She has exhibited her work at Kunstheile Krems Art Museum (AUT) forthcoming, Akron Art Museum (OH), Denny Dimin Gallery (NY), Roy G Biv (OH), Christie's at Rockefeller Plaza (NY), NADA House (NY), LatchKey Gallery (NY), Contemporary Arts Center (OH), Made in Camp (OH), FRIGID Gallery (OH), Portrait Society Gallery (WI), Dutoit Gallery (OH), Untitled Art Fair with Denny Dimin Gallery (NYC/online), Yeiser Art Center Gallery (KY), Site: Brooklyn Gallery (NYC), BSB Gallery (NJ/online), Tabula Rosa (OH), Lupin Gallery (GA), Strohl Art Center (NY), and Fowler-Kellogg Gallery (NY).

Xia Zhang is a multi-disciplinary artist and educator who was born in southern China, grew up in suburban Maryland, and came into adulthood in Appalachia. Much of her work has evolved based on her observations and experiences from living in white-dominated communities from coal country to wine country. Since 2012, she has exhibited in China, Thailand, and nationally. Xia was the 2016-2017 Alice C. Cole Visiting Artist at Wellesley College (Wellesley, MA), a 2017-2018 resident artist at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts (Gatlinburg, TN), and was an artist in residence summers 2018 & 2019 at The Growlery (San Francisco, CA). She is presently an Assistant Professor of Fine Art at the University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH).

Yuyang Zhang (he/him) is an interdisciplinary artist currently living in Portland, Oregon. His practice investigates topics related to car culture, personal and cultural identity, and social and political issues. Through a personal lens, Zhang's photographic works repaint mundane life into mesmerizing and otherworldly scenes. Through the fusion of Chinese propaganda posters and pop culture, his paintings and collages investigate contemporary issues in a humorous manner. Zhang holds a BS in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Purdue University and an MFA in Visual Studies from Pacific Northwest College of Art. He is represented by Fuller Rosen Gallery. He has also exhibited nationally and internationally, including Portland, Oregon; Shenzhen, China; and Berlin, Germany. Zhang has been featured in multiple publications, including AINT-BAD, The Hand, and My view only, a monologue of mobile photography (只属于我的视界:手机摄影自白书).

This exhibition is made possible in part by the University of Oregon, as well as the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana, and the Indiana Arts Commission, which receives support from the State of Indiana and the National Endowment for the Arts.