The twenty-second tabletop happening of 5×7 UNDERGROUND occurred on Friday, January 8th, 2021 from 5-7 p.m. “Divide” was the theme and chosen by member, Jim Roberts.

It was a very cold night, but 5×7 UNDERGROUND met once again live and in person this time at Studio 1330 in Westminster, Maryland. Jim Roberts had the fire pit roaring! With only two days past the 2020 insurrection, we had plenty to talk about. Good company, good beer, great art and a shot or two. What could be better?

Artists in attendance included: Jeff Sharp, Mary Beth Francis, Jim Roberts, Lauren Latané-Valis and Thomas Sterner.

Each artist presented their interpretation of Divide beginning with Jim Roberts. After each 5×7 UNDERGROUND artist presented their work in rotation, the work was displayed for a gallery photograph. We hope you enjoy the art and will visit us again!

The image below depicts 5×7 UNDERGROUND interpretations of the theme, “Divide” as displayed at Studio 1330, Westminster, MD.

5×7 UNDERGROUND Tabletop Gallery #22
"legacy" mixed media artwork
Jim Roberts, “legacy”, 2021, mixed media, 6 3/4in x 5in x 1 3/4in.

Successively fading images of Donald Trump under letterpress type spelling out ‘great divider’, gives visual commentary to an ignominious ending of the 45th president in the waning days of his reign.

"altering the truth" mixed media artwork
Jim Roberts, “altering the truth”, 2021, mixed media, 12in x 5in x 3.5in & 5in x 6in x 2in.

The most effective lies have an element of truth. By systematically slicing away and discarding parts of the truth, a lie can be created…a lie by omission.

"Divided" mixed media artwork
Lauren Latané-Valis, “Divided”, 2020, acrylic paint and tissue paper, 5in x 7in x .25in

Liberty Enlightening the World (aka the Statue of Liberty) cries along with the American people as we experience increasing division in our country. The current political climate has polarized the population and exposed deep-seated divides.

“Obelus" wood and plastic sculture
Thomas Sterner, “Obelus”, 2021, wood and plastic, 5in x 5in x 5in.

The mathematical symbol for division is called an obelus, which is derived from the Ancient Greek word “obelos” meaning a sharpened stick, spit or pointed pillar, the same root as the word “obelisk”. The form of the obelus division sign, as a horizontal line with a dot above and a dot below, was first used as the symbol for division by the Swiss mathematician Johann Rahn in his book Teutsche Algebra in 1659. The words “divide” and “division” have powerful meanings in the current condition of the United States and the world. The division of this country was exploited and became the political strategy for its outgoing president and his political party. When I took a fresh look at the division symbol for this 5×7 assignment, I imagined it as a three-dimensional shape: a wall separating 2 people, and decided to make a sculptural object to both depict the flat mathematical symbol (on one side) and 2 entities separated by a barrier (on the other side). [Originally, I wanted to be able to slide these shapes through the flat plane, so that the wall could grow, demonstrating the act of division]. I am attracted to simple ideas with profound meaning, able to communicate on many levels.

"Bound Together" mixed media artwork
Jeff Sharp, “Bound Together”, 2020, mixed media, 5in x 7.125in.

As a nation, we have lost our way. Only Compassion, Humility, Humanity, and Goodness can keep our divided nation together. Purple is the unifying color, not red or blue. We can relearn to respect each other’s differences thus ending the era of bigotry, hate and mistrust.

Mary Beth Francis, “Worlds Apart”, 2020, acrylic on canvas board, 5in x 7in.

Students of math may agree that division is complicated. Today, people living in the same world, same country, same neighborhood, even the same family are having such different experiences. On so many topics, division has pitted people against one another and trained us to diminish each other, to see each other with disdain and animosity, sometimes cruelty and inhumanity.
The division sign includes what looks like a barrier between two equal shapes. The number below the line is the divisor—the force that divides the number above the line, the dividend. Dividing means you end up with less, unless you divide 1 by 1, then you still have 1.
This work can be displayed with either the darkness or the light as the divisor. As in nature, sometimes darkness divides the light and sometimes light divides the darkness. For now, this work is being displayed with darkness as the divisor, to represent the current state of the United States and the world, especially regarding the most aggressively argued issues of people’s approach to the pandemic, racial and social injustice, and climate change. Hopefully, there will be many times when it will be inverted to mark progress, light in the darkness, and the recognition that though we are different, we should be valued equally, and we can be whole. 1÷1=1