Originally Published in the CUE Arts Exhibition Catalog for Peter Williams: With So Little To Be Sure Of
"Huge amounts of medical and scientific scholarship have been devoted to the question (assuming it is a question) of what kind of species Black people are and what characteristics they possess.”
- Toni Morrison “The Origin of Others”
Painter and mixed media artist, Peter Williams unpacks troubling histories of white supremacy and systemic oppression to create revelatory collective narratives about the persistence of violence against Black bodies. The devastating trend of unwarranted killings of Black boys and men at the hands of police officers, most of whom escaped federal conviction, catalyzed a departure from Williams’s lighter, more spiritual and reverent figurative abstract-portraiture towards more traumatic motifs. His latest body of work, With So Little To Be Sure Of, interrogates the systems and industries that perpetuate and uphold operational practices, legislation, and ideologies that normalize the dehumanization, subjugation, disenfranchisement and belittlement of African Americans. In With So Little To Be Sure Of, Williams’s focus on Black identity centers on the most devastating and distressing depictions of subjugation: naked, pants around ankles, cannibalized, bullet-riddled, beaten, choked, molested, brutalized, castrated, lynched, decapitated. At the core of the work, beyond the artist’s cathartic and obsessive need to reinterpret such vicious violations, is a call to action, a call to bear witness and awaken from what he believes is “an overwhelming cultural apathy.”" CONTINUE READING
Originally published in Bmoreart on January 15, 2018.
"Viewing Magnetic Fields at the NMWA by Mildred Thompson feels like freedom. Bright streaks of red and blue orbit an unknown source, fracture into dashes, and dot a beaming yellow universe. The movement of the lines is both erratic and orchestrated, broad strokes that shift and resound like musical compositions, like the frenetic combustion and reformation from which galaxies are born, the booming screech and coo of ‘Trane’s horn, Alice’s transcendent harp solos, or FlyLo’s auric soundscapes.
Standing before Alma Woodsey Thomas’ Orion, 1973 made me feel like an astronomer surveying an undiscovered star system. Thomas employs a technique she developed called “Alma Stripes” to flood a large canvas with thousands of red strokes. By leaving a small space between each stroke, Thomas creates a hypnotic pattern that recalls West African textiles or astral landscapes." CONTINUE READING
Originally published in BmoreArt on December 13, 2017
"Valerie Maynard is one of the most significant contemporary artists of our times, a legend who has always walked among legends. Many of her predecessors, like Charles White or Elizabeth Catlett, and her contemporaries, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, and Amiri Baraka among others, who have contributed to the canon of Black creative genius, have become gods for my generation, sanctuaries whose sacred books and visualizations I return to again and again for affirmation and critical discourse.
Long before the BLM movement affirmed the acute necessity for America and the world to acknowledge that black life matters, Valerie Maynard’s extensive catalog of sculptures, woodcuts and lithograph prints documented the humanity of African American experiences in Harlem New York, and Baltimore Maryland." CONTINUE READING
Originally published in DIRTDMV.com on December 11, 2017
"Heroes, on view at Kravets|Wehby Gallery in West Chelsea New York, features an intimate and inspiring posthumous exhibition of welded chrome and steel sculptures from former Washington, DC based artist, Ed Love. The eight-works displayed, all produced in the 1970s, reflect a period of extreme productivity for Love. In 1976 the artist exhibited a solo show of his sculptures at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and served as a faculty member at Howard University from 1969 to 1987. Studying and teaching at “The Mecca,” facilitated opportunities for him to be mentored and work alongside many other prolific, world renowned artist-scholars; Elizabeth Catlett, Alma Thomas James D. Herring, Valerie Maynard, James A. Porter, Lou Donaldson, Sam Gilliam, David C. Driskell, Lou Stovall, and Sylvia Snowden, among others. The works created by Love and his peers left an indelible mark, a defining proclamation that not only made black aesthetics more visible, but also widened opportunities for contemporary art institutions to consider the relevance of radical, affirming and challenging representations of the black experience. Without the contributions of those artists, and many others unnamed, who each expanded the visualization, inclusion, and canonization of black aesthetics, there would be no Kehinde Wiley, Amy Sherald, Ebony G. Patterson, Derrick Adams. No Sheldon Scott, Wangechi Mutu, Nate Lewis, Tsedaye Makonnen, or Adrienne Gaither. The struggles of earlier generations against the omission of black creatives from art markets is integral to the dynamic representations of contemporary art makers we see globally exhibited and celebrated today." CONTINUE READING
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
Docs N Toons
A powerful documentary covering the impact of the 2010 7.0 earthquake that devastated Haiti from the perspective of Haitians. Watch the full documentary.
Watch Docs N Toons