Shining Light in the Darkness

Featured Exhibitions
Shining Light in the Darkness
Aging Out: A Community Project I J.P. Goncalves
Presented by Connect Contemporary
Booth 408
Aging Out seeks to visually capture the reality of a social injustice that, too often, lies hidden in the shadows. Viewers are invited to consider seven portraits — each portraying someone who, upon turning eighteen years old, has either “aged out” of foster care or would be “aging out” if a family had not gotten involved.

Each portrait is made of 3,000 squares. Each square is uniquely placed and angled either towards or away from the light source. The image created is only made of reflected light or shadows cast. In total, the 21,000 squares represent the amount of youth who age out of the American foster care system each year. Every eighteen seconds, the central light source is extinguished, revealing the face of a youth who’s endured a journey in this system, along with a poignant statistic illuminated by a smaller light. This cyclical lighting and extinguishing temporally represents the dreaded moment where, upon turning eighteen years old, our nation’s most vulnerable young adults are abandoned by the state and rendered subject to the mercy of the unjust societal forces that create these sobering statistics.

J.P. Gonçalves’ distinct technique uses shadow and light to expose the image, the message, and ultimately, a social inequity that deserves a well-defined place in the minds of compassionate and justice-oriented people with a heart for leveling the playing field so that all young people, regardless of their origins, have a fair chance at creating a meaningful life for themselves.

Born in 1979 in Rio de Janeiro, multimedia artist J.P. Gonçalves moved to the United States at the dawn of the new millennium. He attended school for architecture at Universidade Santa Úrsula in Brazil and later took courses in Industrial Design at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.

He now works at his studio in Greeneville, Tennessee, and his work is collected across the US and internationally, including Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium. In 2016, Gonçalves was awarded First Place in the two-dimensional category by public vote at ArtPrize, an international art competition headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 2021, the artist furthered his ArtPrize legacy by earning the 2D Juried Award with his most recent exhibition Aging Out / 18 Years Old.

In his interpretations of the works of artists like da Vinci, Michelangelo and Bouguereau, the artist exposes that a clear expression of beauty, non-conceptual and free from abstraction is as important as the search for beauty in impressionism, abstraction, and conceptual art. Beauty can be simultaneously clear and hidden. Denying the pure expression of beauty requiring no explanation or examination is a sad injustice to humanity, in the same way it would be unfair to limit the artist’s freedom to search and conquer beauty in chaos or in conceptual ways. Gonçalves investigates the possibilities of beauty from the minimalistic arrangement of seemingly unrelated fragments to a complex well-planned and elaborate arrangement of precisely trimmed media, reflecting light with perfection to achieve an image that resonates with the human soul through undeniable and unanimous standards of beauty.