Tag: exhibition

Fictions

posted by – 10/27/17 @ 2:39pm

 

"Fictions" at the Studio Museum. Photo Courtesy of the Studio Museum.

“Fictions” at the Studio Museum. Photo Courtesy of the Studio Museum. Click to Enlarge.

Recently, as a Senior Art Major at Vanderbilt University, I had the great honor of taking an educational trip to New York City with my classmates, courtesy of the Hamblet Family Endowment. One of the most influential exhibitions I got to see was Fictions, at the Studio Museum in Harlem.   Fictions is a survey of recent artwork by a group of young artists of African descent living and working in the United States. The show was curated by Associate Curator, Connie H. Choi,  and Assistant Curator, Hallie Ringle.  In an interview with artsy.net, Connie Choi reveals that they didn’t approach this show with a particular theme in mind. Instead, they found that certain themes kept coming up in their search through artists and their studio visits.  These young artists consistently engage in creating alternative narratives that harken back to personal experiences, historical references, and the deep roots of racism in America. Honestly, every single artwork in this show is remarkable. The focus of this week’s blog will be on one particularly inspirational artist/Wonder Woman: Amy Sherald.

The Make Believer (Monet's Garden) by Amy Sherald

The Make Believer (Monet’s Garden) by Amy Sherald

The Boy with No Past by Amy Sherald

The Boy with No Past by Amy Sherald

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On display in the exhibition, are two of Amy Sherald’s paintings. Acutely aware of the scarcity of black faces in art history, Ms. Sherald exclusively paints African Americans.  Her characters are painted in a stylized realistic portrait format, with a grayish skin tone contrasted by vibrant patterned clothing on a flat plane.  Her subjects stand firm and calm, but there is no denying that there’s something powerful and evocative about their spirit.  Although the color palette and attire reflect contemporary choices, her figures stand in a timeless world.  They muster up conversations about both history and the future.

Ms. Sherald’s art has recently catapulted her toward phenomenal success.  Her career was interrupted quite a few times, having been diagnosed with congestive heart failure as she was finishing up her master’s degree.  Later, she took a break from school to care for ill family members back home in Georgia.  Having also lost her father and brother to illness, Sherald serves as nothing less than an inspiration to everyone around her, continuing to push through adversity and maintain compassion for those less fortunate in her community.  According to an interview for the New York Times, Ms. Sherald is not very far at all from the days of waiting tables to pay for a studio with no heat or air conditioning.  Nevertheless, she plans to financially support those in need within her region once she pays off her school loans and medical bills.

Having recently entered the world of international distinction in art, her paintings have been acquired by museums such as the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.  It is with incredible honor that Ms. Sherald has recently been commissioned to paint former First Lady, Michelle Obama’s official portrait.  This is the first time that black artists have been chosen to paint presidential portraits, and this commission certainly has profound historical significance for the Nation. Amy Sherald is an artist who proudly paints African Americans, and Ms. Obama has momentously chosen to break away from the conventional portrait tradition and declare pride in such a rich and beautiful culture.

“The Prophet’s Library” by Wesley Clark

posted by – 06/16/17 @ 11:23am

Wesley Clark’s show “The Prophet’s Library” is deeply engrained with symbolism, metaphor, and his experience as an African American male in this country. He began this body of work by making a stream of consciousness list of words that came to him when he thought about his experience which culminated in “Table of Contents”. He created this list of words that now make up the top of the crossword before writing out the clues which allowed him to expand what could be a clue for each word. The words are also grouped together in order to create links and imagery that can be tracked throughout the rest of the show. He invites our imaginations to move piece to piece stitching together the narrative of this prophet. With the series of books that inspired the show title he presents the audience with four cases designed to hold books yet to be written. The exterior of each of these books has been carved, painted, and stained to be representative of the made up titles on the front. What is exciting about these titles, and subsequently these carvings, is that these can be seen as revisions of the current history or simply retellings of those narratives from perhaps a more accurate perspective. This is especially true with “Master Sowers” as it is analyzing the creation of civilization. One side contains an image of Lake Tana which is the source of the Nile river in Egypt which many can argue was the seedbed for civilization and technology as we know it. While the other side depicts two hands holding a mound of dirt with fists erupting from that dirt surrounded by a few symbols including an arrow and some stars. The idea behind this is that once you can defend yourself you can start to think about stars, science, etc. Another piece that spurs our imaginations is the “My Beautiful Black Unicorn(s)”. Which once agains plays with our imagination as well as historical references. Each horn is engraved with the name of slave revolt leaders including: Nat Turner, Denmark Vessey, and Toussaint L’Overture. In theory, these people are unicorns in that they should never have existed in the world in the role of revolutionist. Many people believe that the unicorn was the East Indian Rhino but through word of mouth that narrative was skewed leaving us with the mysterious unicorn we know today. This degradation of the truth can also be tracked onto the experience of the African American as they are often portrayed in the media in a negative light. Each piece in this show has layers and layers of meaning that require the viewer to approach the work with a willingness to spend time with the work. Time spent looking at this show is extremely rewarding as there are so many hidden gems of powerful text, image, or symbol that are lost with a superficial viewing. Wesley has created a show and a body of work that is imaginative, powerful, and truly meaningful within the social and political climate of today.