Originally published November 27, 2017 in Sugarcane Magazine
"Like the lotus, a flower that thrives in unfathomable environments, seventy-three artists offer critical and whimsical explorations on present and historic instances of resilience and imagined futures for communities in the American South, Global South and beyond. The fourth iteration of its triennial art review, Prospect.4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp, is situated in fifteen venues off the coast of the Mississippi and a host of satellite locations at smaller galleries around the city. As the title suggests, Prospect riffs on mythologies associated with the city, and considers water as an environmental element and a signifier for reflection, transit, and transformation. Water and associated themes like Maafa, globalization, colonization, and climate change also recur as major points of inquiry." CONTINUE READING
Originally Published November 16, 2017 in Bmoreart.com
" Wh every brave #METOO declaration, every future reduced to a tally of Baltimore’s rising death toll, every lie told in defense of white supremacy, I am reminded how fragile freedom has always been for so many. We, the ones who are sexualized, silenced and shamed, surveilled and arrested, murdered and brutalized, humiliated, appropriated and blacklisted walk with the weight and residue of institutionalized inequity, patriarchy, racism, classism, and incomprehensible ignorance.
In the face of an overwhelming persistence of local, national, and international disparities, corruptions and assaults on basic civil liberties, it is telling and timely that Dr. H Corona and Dr. A. Pinkston chose freedom as an explorative prompt for participants in LabBodies‘ annual Performance Art Review at SpaceCamp this month, where a collection of immersive installations and live performances have transformed the gallery into a site for critical discourse on freedom. Freedom Free-Done examines all of this and more, but also offers reflective affirmations visualizing freedom’s potential, and how collective and individual imaginings about freedom can dismantle the decrepit and exclusive systems that threaten to destroy the world." CONTINUE READING
Originally published on November 1, 2017 in Bmoreart.com
"The Rated PG Black Arts Festival is the first event of its kind in the region hosted by Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center (PGAAMCC), a historic institution nestled in the small community of Brentwood. Curated by artist Yaya Bey, the festival is a collaborative mashup of contemporary visual and performance artists based in the DMV who visualize and celebrate the contributions of Black women.
“It’s about reclaiming the Black aesthetic,” Bey explains. “When you see us in the media, [we are] presented as monolithic. I wanted to show us as dimensional.” The exhibition, Tell the Truth About Me, spans three galleries and features the work of Lakela Brown, Alanna Fields, Nakeya Brown, Shan Wallace, Adrienne Gaither, Monique Muse Dodd, and the cast of the short film series 195 Lewis.
Whiteness, and more explicitly, the aesthetics of white women, has set the standard for beauty around the world. Straight rather than kinky hair, thin rather than broad nose or lips, light or pale skin instead of dark complexions; the proliferation of white beauty standards has catalyzed unsettling trends. Women of color are more prone to depression, low self-esteem, and the purchase of products or medical procedures to more closely resemble white women. According to the World Health Organization, 25% of Malaysian, 77% of Nigerian, 27% of Senegalese, 35% South African, 59% Togo, 61% of India, and 40% of women surveyed in China have purchased skin lightening products. The implications of this data reveal the devastating power of advertising, and the resultant isolation and Othering that women of color encounter." CONTINUE READING
Originally published on October 18, 2017 in BmoreArt.com
Melani Douglass has long been a champion for inclusivity. The programming she curated through the Family Arts Museum while an MFA Curatorial Practice Graduate student and as a Fellow in the inaugural cohort of the Urban Arts Leadership Program, facilitated numerous collaboration between community members and local arts institutions. Douglass’s curatorial efforts have consistently explored intersections between art, race and environment.
The power of her engagements is encapsulated in the principles that found their creation: in fostering healthy and sustainable pipelines between artists, arts institutions and communities. Douglass expounds on this mission in her new role as Director of Public Programs at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Douglass and I talked about her position, upcoming exhibitions she is excited about, and collaborations between artists and institutions in Baltimore and DC. CONTINUE READING
Originally published on September 15, 2017 in Bmoreart.com
"Black Magic: AfroPasts/AfroFutures mines the Afro-diasporic visions, dreams and psychedelic premonitions of eight visual artists: Pierre Bennu, Jamea Richmond-Edwards, Ivan Forde, Adama Delphine Fawundu, Adrienne Gaither, Charles Jean-Pierre, Tariku Shiferaw, Danny Simmons, and also includes a literary contribution from Chlöe Bass. The collection at Honfleur Gallery in Washington DC assembled by Anthropologist/Curator Niama Safia Sandy is situated in distant, contemporary and future worlds that channel Afrofuturist and magical realist theory and literature. It harkens back to the exhibit of the same name Sandy curated in Brooklyn in 2016, but features different artists from DC and Baltimore instead." CONTINUE READING
Originally published in Bmoreart.com on September 11, 2017
"Adam Pendleton’s Wall Works, a term he coined to describe his massive floor-to-ceiling collage installations, are subtle, subversive, and saturated with obscure and purposefully convoluted content. On display at the Baltimore Museum of Art’s expansive lobby wall and in the Front Room Gallery, Pendleton codes his work with bold black and white iconography. Although they resemble graphic design and industrial printing methods, Pendleton’s iterations evade clarity, questioning about the role of language in social resistance movements.
Unlike the lobby, where Pendleton’s designs fill one two-story wall like wallpaper, the exhibit in the Front Room is completely immersive, with Wall Works on all sides. I wasn’t sure how to respond to the work when I first encountered it, and could not help but play the chorus from Erykah Badu’s classic anthem “… & On” in my head: What good do your words do if they can’t understand you / Don’t go talking that shit, Badu. Badu.
Wall Works warrant deep consideration of languages, both known and unknowable, and offer a push and pull between the legible and illegible components of abstraction, the histories I could discern and the ones too obstructed to decode." CONTINUE READING
Originally published on August 25, 2017 in Arts.Black
t has been more than twenty years since the prolific scholar and curator Thelma Golden organized her seminal exhibition Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art at The Whitney Museum of American Art. Some critics praised the collection for its broad depictions of black masculinity, which included perspectives from artists that neither identified as black or male. Most critics, however, considered the collection as exploitative, problematic, and not reflective enough of everyday black male identities. When the show traveled from New York to UCLA’s Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center, it was met with protests, and counter-exhibitions by those who felt the work did not reflect their ideas or lived experiences of black masculinity. Golden maintained that the exhibition was not intended to be a “survey on black men” or a “catalog of types” rather, the exhibition worked as a sprawling mirror, a museum of refracted perspectives and imaginaries about black masculinity.
The aroused, triggered, enraged and enamored responses Black Male evoked ripple into contemporary dialogues. We artists, curators, critics, and patrons of color, each persist in our struggles to complete works that are at once contemplative of black and brown, queer and non-gender specific, marginal and interstellar representation, but not singularly limited to racialized, gendered, sexually oriented or planar contextualization. One wonders if works created by black artists that feature black subjects, will ever be conceived beyond the identities assumed of the bodies portrayed; if black art can ever just be, art.
Gallery CA which rests in the gritty and quickly gentrifying arts enclave of Greenmount West in East Baltimore City is no Whitney Museum. The humble gallery resides on the bottom level of a low-income housing apartment complex that frequently opens its doors to Charm City’s emerging and established artists. Despite the city’s nearly 64% black population, it is still rare for art works created by regional black artists and other artists of color to receive solo exhibitions at major art institutions and museums. Rarer still for those exhibitions to be curated by black artists, and representation of people of color in arts administrator roles are abysmally deficient. And yet, Two Lanes Stories, an exhibition currently on view at the at Gallery CA, falls in line with the spirit and intention of Black Male and prompts similar queries towards deeper and broader black masculine identity definitions by resisting caricature. CONTINUE READING
Originally published August 9, 2017 on Bmoreart.com
"When Watching God, the sophomore solo exhibition from emerging artist Asha Elana Casey, curated by Gallery 102 Director Andy Johnson at The Corcoran School of the Arts & Design at GW, juxtaposes texturally dense black and white abstraction with figurative portraiture to visualize West African rituals and transcendental states of consciousness.
The metaphysical, meditative landscapes Casey invokes are derived from the ritual iconography of pre-Abrahamic spiritual systems that proliferated throughout the African Diaspora as a result of the Transatlantic Slave Trade; IFA, Akom and Haitian Voudoun. I sat with the artist at Gallery 102 to discuss her influences and intentions." CONTINUE READING
Originally published July 28, 2017 on Bmoreart.com
"The Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center presents Botany, the first solo exhibition of mixed media artist Clare Elliott. “My artwork is about highlighting the relationships and the love that I have and how they are important to me,” Elliott offered during our brief interview.
The direction of the show changed when Elliott learned that her godmother, Lori S. Goodman, an esteemed dancer/choreographer with Arena Players and award-winning instructor of Western High School Dance Team, passed away from lupus. Elliott grew up in Northwest Baltimore and attended Western High School. “I’ve known [Goodman] since I was 14 years old. You think fundamentally in the time that you mature; you become who you are. She was a huge part of that.”
In response, Elliott rallied her community of Western Alumni and members of Goodman’s family together to create a profound memorial. Goodman’s Girls, the prominent collection within the Botany exhibition, features twenty-eight small collaged portraits of women who were deeply impacted by Goodman’s tutelage and mentorship." CONTINUE READING
Originally published July 18, 2017 in Bmoreart.com
"Visionary social innovators and beloved Reservoir Hill Dovecote Café owners Cole and Aisha Pew have had an extraordinarily busy and productive year. In partnership with local and national entrepreneurs, the pair facilitated countless initiatives designed to combat systemic disinvestment in underserved communities within Baltimore City; food deserts, home ownership, lack of investment in POC led ventures, and others.
The latest venture, The Black Arts Executive Director Pipeline Program, launched via sister organization Brioxy, seeks to prepare Black artists, administrators, philanthropists, creatives and cultural workers for arts administration leadership careers.
“In the past year and a half we have worked with hundreds of leaders around the country,” Cole shared during a brief interview. “Part of our goal over the next couple of years is to really deepen our roots in Baltimore and to be able to support leaders from across different sectors.” " CONTINUE READING
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