Art exhibit draws connection between stereotypes, biases

Owens Daniels’ exhibit Common Ties That Bind will be on display at the Sawtooth Center for Visual Art until August 23.

Art exhibit draws connection between stereotypes, biases
August 09
10:01 2019

At a place in time where the country seems to be more divided than ever, local artist/photographer Owens Daniels is literally using a rope to tie together the different struggles and biases people face on a daily basis.

On display at the Sawtooth School for Visual Arts, Daniels exhibit entitled “Common Ties That Bind,” includes several images of men and women from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds intertwined in what seems to be the same rope. In some of the images the rope is spilling out of the canvass onto the floor. When discussing the exhibit with The Chronicle last week, Daniels said the rope represents the different forms of bias and stereotypes that are placed on people every day.

He said he based his work on the idea that America has a history of prejudging and labeling individuals, oftentimes just because they’re different. And the rope represents those labels and stereotypes.

“The rope itself is only indicative of a criminal. You hang criminals. It’s a sentence, it’s a judgment, that’s what the rope is,” Daniels said.

When visiting the exhibit, Daniels said he wants the public to understand that our struggles with stereotypes and biases such as race, identity, religion, and others is what ties us together. He said, “The trials and tribulations tie us together; we all experience it and that gives us a common thread to connect.

“The idea is to connect and respect each other’s differences, not just as a group, but individually. That’s what I want people to take away from this, that idea.”

Sawtooth School for Visual Arts (SSVA) Executive Director Amy Jordan what she likes most about the exhibit is that it forces you to ask questions.

“The first thing it does is make you ask questions and for me that’s a true sign of a good exhibit,” Jordan said. “I think Owens did a good job of demonstrating how we are bound by ourself and others. And this makes us look further into that and as community, that’s essential.”

While encouraging visitors to ask questions, Daniels’ exhibit also marked a historic moment for SSVA. Common Ties That Bind marked the end of Daniels’ year-long residency, making him the first African American artist in residence at the Sawtooth. Jordan said over the years working as a photography instructor, Daniels has become part of the Sawtooth family, so when he started discussions about a residency it was a no-brainer.

“He’s been here in so many different capacities it’s just wonderful that it has come to this. It just seems natural,” Jordan continued. “Because I’ve known Owens for so long, it just seemed like a natural progression.”

Daniels said to know that he is the first African American to hold a residency at Sawtooth makes him feel honored. He said, “It makes me proud to know that we had an opportunity not only as an individual, but as a people.”

Common Ties That Bind will be on display at the Sawtooth Center for Visual Arts, 251 Spruce Street, through August 23. For more information on the exhibit or The Sawtooth Center, visit

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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