MEET THE ARTISTS

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Elizabeth Alexander

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Website: elizabethalexanderstudio.com
Instagram: @keepingappearances

My work examines the hidden pressures, values, and power structures taught, enacted, and reinforced through domestic objects and space. Labored processes unearth the human presence within our material surroundings and explore home as a place that is shaped by our stories and bears witness to our secret lives. Moments where those stories seep through the cracks are probed to reveal what might lay behind the façade.
Long hours of unmaking and rebuilding found materials provide space to examine supposed truths within the domestic sphere. Repetitive processes become internal centering elements to record memories and observations through labor. Carefully extracting every flower from a roll of wallpaper builds a familiarity with the patterned contents that inform its reconstruction. Time has an unusual presence where the making of a work spans many weeks of meticulous attention, yet the result often finishes in a precarious freeze frame. These processes pull at the threads of the home as a symbol and envisions the realities of private space.
Invisible elements like suppression or trauma gain a point of entry through approachable items such as a cup or wallpaper. From a carefully curated stock of thrifted items I collaborate with the history of an object: where it came from, who handled it before, or decisions by the designer. Raised to see the possibility in found or unwanted things as a means of survival and play my childhood environment was filled with objects that were handed down, traded, handmade, or upcycled; every curtain sewn by mom, steel furniture made by dad, a dollhouse from old bookshelves. Coping mechanisms of fantasy and busy hands rear their heads during this time when every moment feels on the brink of calamity.

All Things Bright and Beautiful

2020, cast paper on 8ply matboard and wood; cast paper, extracted wallpaper pattern on 8ply matboard and wood, 95 x 124 x 30 in.; 92 x 124 x 40 in
Courtesy of the artist

When I started working on this piece, the part of the South where I live was either on fire or underwater from various extreme weather events. The existential corrosion I was processing about the state of our country was literally at my doorstep in the form of environmental carnage.

Debris from these storms was collected to commingle with domestic objects in the form of hollow cast paper replicas. One half of the objects have a coating of locta paper that looked to me like a charred or rotten surface. The rest were encrusted in a skin of wallpaper flowers, as if I were bedazzling this debris. Cutouts between the print expose glimpses of the black interior through pattern upon close inspection.

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Sukenya Best

Richmond, Virginia

Website: sukenyabestartistry.com
Instagram: @sukenyabe

Young people inspire me! Their energy, curiosity, imagination, playfulness, innocence, and spirit attract my attention. When I think about portraiture and its long history around the world of capturing a person’s power, prestige, glamour, rank, honor, enlightenment, and prominence, my thoughts quickly stream to Psalm 127 which reminds me of a child’s prominence: calling children rewards from the Lord, arrows in a skilled warrior’s hand. Whether I use acrylic paint or watercolor, I endeavor to capture these traits in large colorful portraits. In many of my paintings, they are in an expressive pose, surrounded by an imaginary place, and holding an object connected to biblical teachings. I am moved to show young children of color spiritually protected and capable of carrying the armor of God. So I depict them interacting with a sword, shield, bow/arrow, pearl, or passage of scripture. It is very important to fortify them with inner peace during this time of racial injustice and civil unrest. Therefore, I create artwork that is vibrant, piercing and imaginative, to inspire others to continue dreaming. Desiring to reveal the glory and wonder of God’s gifts to our world, I work with watercolor, and gravitate towards luminous colors and expressive brushstrokes. Tools used are often untraditional, resulting in the desired effect of texture. My acrylic paintings reveal an interest in Baroque style light source (chiaroscuro) and layered brushstrokes in the background often gravitate towards the style of Expressionism.

Faith

2021, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 3/4 in.
Courtesy of the artist

This self-portrait represents two ideas- the first is spiritual. Here is a woman of faith holding an etched sword, wearing a pearl that represents heaven, and standing beside scripture (1 Timothy 6:12) that I discretely added to the wallpaper. It says, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed in the presence of many witnesses.” The second idea is the contrast within our world, as portrayed by an African American woman in a Victorian environment. The painting’s wallpaper is in a period home that was built in 1902. In the 21st century I’m a welcomed visitor at a place, that at one time, did not welcome my people. Now in this place I stand strong and free.

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Kamau Bostic

Tupelo, Mississippi

Website: kamaubostic.com
Instagram: @kamaubosticphotography

Portraiture has been my sole focus throughout my practice as a photographer. For me, creating a photographic portrait conveys my artistic intentions. I am very intentional of how I pose my subjects, to capture their personality and dignity. In this body of my work, I interpret my vision of the portraits as a single object. I remove objects in the foreground and background for the figure to be the focal point of the composition. I use a digital camera and shoot hundreds, if not thousands, of images to capture the feeling / mood of contemplation and solitude that the figure is experiencing at the moment. The digital process enables me to slow down the process and provides me with more opportunities to focus on my subject. I aim to take the personality of my subject and create a portrait that truly represents them.

Justin Deer Skull

2020, digital archival inkjet, 36 x 24 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Justin Deer Skull is the representation of Justin (subject) finding his way back to nature, in a way searching for what it means to be human. By cultivating knowledge through the teachings of history he searches to feel more grounded and become more holistic in a sense. The skull represents the fundamental understanding that living things must in order for him to survive, but also to care and respect things that must die in our place.

S. Ross Browne

Richmond, Virginia

Website: srossbrowne.com
Instagram: @srossbrowne

My work is a series of contextual allegories that reveal its overt and hidden socio-political and historical messages in figurative paintings that challenge notions about the collective journeys of all people but with a focus on people of color. I paint these collective, personal and often historical (affirmed and disputed) allegories, giving them a framework to challenge the struggles of identity, power and self actualization. My subjects are in classical pictorial representations using delineations of factual chronicles and imagined mythology replete with persuasive imagery that defies the common visual library and the often polemic misrepresentations of diasporic people. I use contrasting narratives with symbolism hidden in plain view that feeds discourse in an attempt to shed light on the weaponization of race and it’s hypocritical progeny.
These illustrated and often wordless stories use stark uncompromising realism as a catalyst for eroding the conventionally assigned racial archetypes. The stories I paint range from historical to mythological to anecdotal and beyond. Recently I have been creating imagery that reveals the interpersonal journeys we all embark upon and transforms them into the metaphysical. In a quest to reaffirm the higher self in what is often a panoply of self determination in paint, I seek to reveal positive optimistic corollaries to the notions of historic and systemic racial brutality, cultural self loathing and the mass psychogenesis of societal apathy.

The Surrender of Lee (Reverse Mandala)

2021, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 50 in.
Courtesy of the artist

As protests and conflagrations erupted in my city of Richmond, Virginia, the epicenter soon made itself evident around the statues put in place in an effort to keep just over half of it’s population in its place, i.e. disenfranchised. So it was poetic that these protests led by all races, religions and socio-economic backgrounds centered around these monuments, on monument avenue, epitomized Walter Mosley’s notion that “our collective freedom depends on our ability to defend the rights of others.”

Anna Buckner

Anna Buckner

Banner Elk, North Carolina

Website: annabuckner.com
Instagram: @annerbuck

These works are all studies of the log cabin quilt pattern. Or the log house, or canadian patchwork, or canadian logwork, or log house pattern, or ribbon patchwork, or chevron log cabin, or egyptian pattern, or mummy pattern, or roof pattern, or rail fence, or run-rig pattern. I’d bet the list goes on.
All of these names are used to describe the same pattern–one that begins with a small piece of fabric in the center, and grows in a spiral as fabric strips are added. The pattern is ubiquitous in the American South and beyond. It is simple to make and teach using old scraps of fabric. The multiple names hint at the multiple narratives and origins of the pattern. In my practice, I work with multiple materials in an attempt to study the pattern in different forms. In the five submitted pieces, I created a quilt top using the pattern, and then stretched the quilt top over a support, causing the strips of fabric to change shape. I use recycled fabric–either old clothes or fabric that has been given to me. I want to use these fabrics with multiple narratives to create new stories–ones that call to mind the accumulated and complicated histories of the pattern and ones that make space for new poetic possibilities.

Persimmon Picnic

2020, pieced fabric on stretcher, 11 x 14 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Persimmon Picnic was made in the winter of 2020. It was a cold day in December, and a close friend asked me if I had ever eaten a persimmon. She told me she had just tasted one for the first time and almost cried because it was so good. This piece is based on that exchange–a fantasy about seeing friends again, crying while eating delicious persimmons, and picnicking in the summer. Small Frogs, and Watermelons are Most Water are an extension of that fantasy.

To Ma and a Mauve Velvet Tank Top

2019, pieced fabric on stretcher, 12 x 12 in.
Courtesy of the artist

These two works are love letters to close people in my life who have given me clothes over the years. The first, To Ma, is a love letter to my mother. To All is a love letter to everyone that I included in this project, containing pieces of all of their clothes.

To All

2019, pieced fabric on stretcher, 24 x 24 in.
Courtesy of the artist

These two works are love letters to close people in my life who have given me clothes over the years. The first, To Ma, is a love letter to my mother. To All is a love letter to everyone that I included in this project, containing pieces of all of their clothes.

J.B. Burke

Charlotte, North Carolina

Website: JessicaBurkeArtist.com
Instagram: @jburkeartist

These drawings express the language of excess and consequence. We interact with food intimately- we consume it, we digest it, and we internalize it in multiple senses. Food defines ordinary life and special occasions alike. It can create pleasure and provoke shame. It becomes a vehicle for stories that investigate the body, identity, gender, community, the domestic, the sacramental, economics, politics, and the environment. The artificial architecture of these overindulgent spaces represents a new predator encased saccharine sweet genetically modified and ultra-processed foods. It is a portrait of in flux anchored by our cultural obsession with the artificial and detrimental.

Panem et Circenses (Bread and Circuses)

2019, colored pencil on Canford Imperial Paper (Bubblegum), 20 x 28 in.
Courtesy of the artist

The role of the predator, symbolized by the coyote skull, and the prey have been reversed within this cage of complex carbohydrates that represent sugar addiction. This drawing uses the candy- coated architecture of comfort and nostalgia that underscores the implied balance between strong and weak.

The Truth as it was Told to Me

2019, colored pencil on Strathmore 400 Bristol Board, 20 x 16 in.
Courtesy of the artist

The role of the predator, symbolized by the coyote skull, and the prey have been reversed within this cage of complex carbohydrates that represent sugar addiction. This drawing uses the candy- coated architecture of comfort and nostalgia that underscores the implied balance between strong and weak.

Achieving and Undermining Remediation

2019, charcoal on Arches HP 300lb, 30 x 20 in.
Courtesy of the artist

This drawing is meant to mimic a built environment, like a contemporary citscape, in order to investigate the body, politics, economics, the environment and ideas of community.

Liza Butts

Birmingham, Alabama

Website: lizabutts.com
Instagram: @miss.butts

I am fascinated with found relics from iron and steel production and how they exist in the Alabama landscape randomly without much explanation or attempt to protect from deterioration. There’s an invisible city within my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama where only bits and pieces of the city’s industrial past lives today. I am interested in how structures from coal mining, iron, and steel production provide entryways into the city’s racial inequalities and social structures. The disownment and abandonment of these mining structures seems to reveal how the psyche can show up in the landscape. These structures that were once a central economic force of Birmingham, Alabama and the surrounding region, dissolve away in the woods with little acknowledgment. Our own discomfort with the city’s past and the racial histories seems to mirror itself in the landscape. I am drawn to wild spaces because they feel like they’re holding information that has been abandoned and forgotten, much like how we often hide or push away our own histories and past lives. I like these shadowy spaces, where information is hiding, dissolving away, and losing conscious identity. Through painting, I’m able to start to examine that which is hiding and deteriorating in order to bring it to life and better understand the complex landscape I live in.

Southern Ruins

2021, oil on paper, 22 x 30 in.
Courtesy of the artist

This image comes from Vulcan Trail in Birmingham, Alabama. The stone supports are two of the only remnants left of the Birmingham Mineral Railroad that used to connect furnaces and mines in the region.

Cornelius Cakley

Columbia, South Carolina

Website: miagraphix.com
Instagram: @m.i.a.graphix

My work can be called Urban Folk Art, along with being a graphic designer. As an artist, I develop untraditional mixed media art. When it comes to my ideas it’s like a trigger that’s had been pulled, and my vision starts to flow. Some of my inspiration comes from music, my surroundings, what I’ve been through in life, and a deep hunger to create something unique and most of the time is unplanned.
One thing that piqued my interest in art was watching my older brother would create these amazing, but unusual drawings, using whatever he could draw with, and some would end up being a graffiti piece. So that sparked a part of me and interest in graffiti art then it would push my creativity. I finally got to the point where I started doing the art for myself and hoped that people loved it. Being creative means having something to say. The works represent just that! Lens view of a community from graffiti to folk art, with a touch of self-expression.

Urban Unrest 2020!

2020, black and gray ink on paper, 8 1/2 x 33 x 2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

This illustration is called Urban Unrest 2020! It dictates the chaotic times during the pandemic and riots. The KKK is represented in this piece as spray paint cans as holding a burning cross the flame goes from the cross turns into a skull and bones. You can see representations of the pandemic and police brutality. There’s the chain that represents we are locked together as human beings. A voting violet is drawn to represent the 2020 elections. Throughout the illustration, you will see the characters of stick men, he represents what’s going on in-between transitional thoughts. You will also see the year 1921 that represents the Tulsa Riots(Massacre).

The World N Khaos!

2020, black and gray ink on paper, 7 1/2 x 33 x 2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

This illustration is called The World N Khaos! A continuation of thoughts throughout the riots of the Black Lives Matter Movement. The possibility of UFOs is also depicted in this piece. It’s a young lady illustrated at the beginning of the piece. I saw the image of her on a Social Media post during the riots, with the mask over part of her face. A car was overturned in the background and burning, It was really chaotic because of the times that we were going through during the pandemic. Once again I have Dré Supreme because it’s my graffiti artist tag name.

Radical Darkness

2021, black and gray ink on paper, 14 x 68 x 2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

This is a illustration that is called Radical Darkness. The reason is that it represents the time from the 80’s Crack Epidemic, and the times in between until now with the Opium Epidemic. This also includes the dark times that we’re having in America with COVID-19, and gun violence. We also have good times for example hip hop music, creative minds and soul will be represented, as you go across illustration. The other part of the artwork that’s called The Unblind Mind which means that your mind is not tied to one way of thinking, there’s the Basic Economics that represents us coming out of the pandemic and getting stronger as you manage your finances correctly. There are images of aliens which the Pentagon announced that there are real UFOs! You can look at this illustration possibly for an hour and most likely you will see something new. Not even I can recall every thought that I had when I was creating it.

Time Shift

2021, black and gray ink on paper, 8 1/2 x 22 x 2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

This illustration is named Time Shift. What this piece represents is the time of the Capitol Riots or Insurrection of the capital, and what was going on throughout that week. For example, things are shifted from one way to another throughout Covid 19. You can see here is that I have mention Created DNA. The Reason that’s put in because my family has a history of being artists and creatives types, so this piece is representing of it. A few other aspects are repeated, like I have 1997 written in there to represent the tough year that I had and throughout many of my creations you will see spray paint cans which represent graffiti artists before I became an Urban Folk Artist.

Emmanuelle Chammah

Atlanta, Georgia

Website: emma-emma.com
Instagram: @emmachammah

I am a conceptual artist working with themes of sensation, the human body and cultural multiplicity through mixed materials and textiles. My work consists of wearable sculptures that are prostheses for cognitive functions, metaphysical relationships and our relationship with mental health as individuals and as a society. Central to my practice is the goal of cultivating compassion, primarily through the tactile nature of my work and insistent use of crafting traditions and techniques. These detailed moments are where the process itself is expressed in the language of my americanized Egyptian culture and economically marginalized upbringing as a first generation person. I use diagramming as part of my process, more recently using 3D computer modeling and CNC fabrication with the intent to visualize the liminal spaces of identity we all share.

Wait Blanket 

2019, fabric, polyfil, poly-pellets, cotton batting, 55 1/2 x 45 x 2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

This is the first large piece of the relaunch of my art practice. It represents an idea I carried with me for 10 years. It is a three- dimensional quilt made from collected pieces of fabric from friends and family. There were 320 pieces to sew together and 17 square feet of hand quilting. It demonstrates my rebirth as an artist, with the weight of the decision and the painstaking time to shift myself into creating art. As a military spouse, I moved around with this fabric in tow for 7 years, from New York, to Virginia, to San Diego and finally Atlanta. Some of the fabric is from incomplete projects through the years, like curtains that never happened, costuming fabric from when I worked in theater and 50 – 100 year old fabric scraps that were carefully kept by my American grandmother-in-law who grew up in the South during the depression era, became a Navy nurse and made a home for 60 years in Bethesda, Maryland. I found myself also reflecting on my own displacement and nomadic life and those of my parents from Egypt to Canada and then the US. The act of quilting bringing some union to all these parts. “Istanna shweyya” means “wait a moment” in Egyptian dialect.

Wait Under Pyramids

2020, fabric, poly-fil, poly-pellets, cotton batting, fringe, 94 x 15 x 3 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Created in early 2020, this piece took shape in anticipation of all that followed. The overwhelming sense that we were heading for catastrophe or some kind of eruption compelled me to turn salvaged fabric scraps into an elaborate weighted wearable tapestry. Over the course of a few months, I cut out 400+ pieces of fabric and invited the help of friends, family and studio mates, all while discussing the feelings of impending crisis, oppression, change and patience. It was like the repetitive action created a stability and much needed ritual. The tassels were also individually handmade as a small action of rejecting capitalism because affordable tassels would implicate me in the deplorable conditions of factory produced fashion notions and trim. This is invisible in the final piece but the process demonstrates all the mental hurdles you need to go through to simply exist in our ethically challenging society. The anxiety and care it demands to just be. And the result is a portable shelter. The pyramid shapes create a significant sound barrier and are intended to shield you from the noise. Wait Under Pyramids is a portable fallout shelter for a social exposure.

Super El-ayn

2020, cotton, embroidery, poly-fil, glass bead weight, cotton batting, 12 x 10 x 6 in.
Courtesy of the artist

El-Ayn, or the “evil eye,” depicted on the embroidery of the weighted flaps, protects against ill will and malicious spells cast upon someone, particularly those cast when a person is unaware. This piece explores a legend that is still today accompanied by crafted amulets and talismans throughout the Middle East. Building off of those trinkets, “Super El- Ayn” is a battle mask with 360 degree protection from judgement, envy and general evil. Not intended for physical war, this soft and weighted headdress is intended for social and emotional war.

Natalie Chanel

Rock Hill, SC

Website: ganttcenter.org
Instagram: @Rusticaura

I am a textile historian and mixed media artists who grew up in South Carolina. As a child, I was drawn to colorful patterns on my great-grandmother’s quilts and the stories that accompany them. I have been creating with my hands from early childhood and my love for art has taken many different forms over the years. When I was in undergrad, I stumbled across the book, Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad by Jacqueline Tobin and Raymond Dobard. It was at that moment when daily utilitarian items were transformed and took on a new, elevated meaning for me.
I was instantly intrigued with the notion of an everyday item, composed of rags and recycled materials, could be used as symbolism and as methods of nonverbal communication. My interest and inspiration with the connection of textiles led me to study material culture and historic textiles at the collegiate level. I enjoy visiting weaving communities abroad to gage how countries with different economic infrastructures approach materiality and processes. I am passionate about visiting ancient and modern cultures who have mastered dyeing and manipulating fiber to create items like tapestries, rugs and clothing.
As an artist, I aim to create woven wall hangings and mixed media collages that represent a multilayered aesthetic. Some of my most current works reflect racial uprisings and the cultural discourse happing within our respective communities. My work seeks to find a balance of providing a voice to the voiceless while simultaneously combining my love for architecture, cultural anthropology and art. Weaving for me represents both complexities and simplicity. The over and under rhythmic motion is therapeutic and provides me with an opportunity to be with my thoughts.
Making woven pieces that uses historical imagery from the black family and southern cultural really hits home. My work incorporates found materials that are culturally relevant and other man-made ephemera. My weavings are inspired by my international travels and the notion of upcycling materials from different environments. I use traditional and nontraditional looms, such as old ladders, recycled windows and sticks.

In the Beginning

2021, moss, fungi, eucalyptus, and cone-like material, 48 x 36 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Corrine Colarusso

Atlanta, Georgia

Website: corrinecolarusso.org

Paintings are restless creations that contain fragments of ideas and images, roaming from chamber to chamber until I map them where they are. The pleasure in the making of work is to find connections to the signals, patterns and mysteries of what I see. Painting recounts things as they happen, and the result is a description of how instinct and knowledge can blend into painterly material. In my work, the paint is always present. Even though I may be describing reeds, sky, trees etc, I am painting a painting. Nature, landscape, the bright symbolic sunrise, the gloaming, weather conditions, paint and color, become a stirred fiction.
My recent paintings describe the landscape in clusters of reeds and grasses becoming chambers, channels, and shelters, – tent like formations of switch grass as architecture under big sky and distant views. I paint these images not only for what they are, but for what else they are, how they help us see and understand what we need in nature.. Every leaf a shelter, in the back yard, and in painting.
We live in a time when technology seems increasingly natural to us and nature itself less so. And yet- behind every common weed and vine lay a wild and remote hinterland very much like our own internal one. In this way, we are connected to the patterns and signals found within the language of rocks, reeds, and vistas that glow. There for the taking- the daily spectacular, the common wealth for all. Sometimes as description, sometimes as speculation, my paintings depict this duality of connection and distance with the natural world.

Double Solitude, House of Reeds

2020, acrylic on canvas, 84 x 66 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Many of my paintings, such as Double Solitude House of Reeds, are oriented vertically. At 84 x 66 inches, the large paintings are a little taller and wider than a person with their arms outstretched. I do this because in this format, they reflect the viewer. They are not overwhelming or large just for the spectacle of scale but large enough to create a space, like a portal filled with painterly information for the viewer. My paintings create a personal space to hold the viewer for a personal, singular experience of each piece.

Tameca Cole

Birmingham, Alabama

Website: tamecacole.com
Instagram: @ghostmatrix3.o

My name is Tameca Cole, I’m 49 years old. I’m a life-long resident of Birmingham, Alabama. I went into the prison system at a young age but always with a hopeful attitude that a better future awaited. Most of my time was spent going to trade-school to upgrade my job skills and reading. I signed up for a creative writing class sponsored by Auburn University and that’s when I found my purpose in life. Once I reconnected with my creative side I never looked back. Art and writing allow me to address my personal demons in a way that doesn’t hurt others. It gives me an outlet to express how the cruelty of my incarceration, injustice, and experience with racism has affected me. It gives me the power to show other human beings how degrading it feels to be Black in America and still live under systemic racism. I consider my art to be an educator, a weapon, and a thought-provoking conversation about change. I would be grateful for any support that allows me to continue to elevate as an artist as well as a civil rights soldier.

My Mental Health/P2TSD

2020, charcoal, graphite, collaged elements on paper, 14 x 17 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Untitled

2021, acrylic paint, graphite, charcoal, and collage elements on illustration board, 17 x 15 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Untitled

2021, watercolor, charcoal, graphite on drawing board, 20 x 16 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Carla Contreras

Sandy Springs, Georgia

Website: carlacontreras.net
Instagram: @carla.contreras.art

My work is an exploration of analogies between the human condition and nature. Individual and collective dynamics affected by inner mechanisms and ecosystemic agents. My making process and artistic practice seek to examine ideas of resilience, transformation, rebirth, tension, balance, transition, uncertainty, impermanence. The imagery and mark making vocabulary in my mixed media drawings and paintings come from the recollection of visual information took in from holistic immersions in natural sites in Atlanta, Ga like the Chattahoochee river area and Stone Mountain.

Burdens of Hope

2020, acrylic, latex, ink, oil sticks and pastels, paint pens, colored pencils on canvas, 36 x 46 in.
Courtesy of the artist

This painting responds to a process of observation, assimilation, and abstraction of a cart with belongings pertaining to a homeless person. This painting belongs to the 2019-2020 Body of work: “Public Inhabitants of the Booming Metropolis”.

Stationary Transitions

2021, acrylic, oil pastels, paint pens on canvas, 48 x 48 in.
Courtesy of the artist

This piece was inspired by the Chattahoochee river. It explores ideas of relentlessness, transition, change, resilience, and transformation.

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Margaret Curtis

Tryon, North Carolina

Website: margaretcurtisart.com
Instagram: @margarcur

My large-scale, narrative paintings explore everyday flexings of power. My subject matter is intersectionally feminist, personal, political: the body as occupied territory, autonomy won through confrontation. I create narratives that are provocative and open-ended, paintings that are visually engrossing, but jarring. I generate imagery by processing the discord created between both clashing ideas and painted marks.
I am fascinated by how the same power dynamics that work on a micro level within interpersonal relationships also work on a macro level in society. I have been addressing not only the drive towards domination that underlies everything from domestic violence in white middle-class America to environmental degradation worldwide, but its mechanics. As I struggle to understand a moment defined by a mix of toxic nationalism, racism, and misogyny, I often find myself depicting anxiety. I use hyperbole and the grotesque as a means towards emotional realism, reflecting not only a culture of open cruelty but resistance to ongoing retrenchment. In this world of inverted values, might once again makes right. The cupidity and callousness of the powerful few loom over physical and psychological landscapes defined by vulnerability, whether stemming from climate change, deep structural inequity, or abuse of power.

Charm Bracelet of My Reproductive Career

2020, polymer clay and repurposed found objects, 32 x 32 x 7 in.
Courtesy of the artist

When quarantine first hit last March, I lost a solo show and other exhibits were put on indefinite hold. I felt suddenly trapped and unfocused, with too much time on my hands. I began experimenting with what I already had available in the house. This larger-than-life charm bracelet installation is made from my son’s polymer clay and repurposed found objects, like tampons and pregnancy tests. The “charms” subvert the romanticization and sentimentality that often surround reproduction by depicting aspects of living with a female body in our current culture that are normally censured or shrouded in silence. From an adolescent’s first pelvic exam, to the pain of perimenopausal bleeding; from birth via C-section to miscarriage or pregnancy termination; from the invasiveness of fertility treatments to the challenges of breast feeding, I wanted this piece to be inclusive of our shared human experiences of suffering and joy and contain “charms” that all people who can relate to, physically and emotionally.

Lindsy Davis

Nashville, Tennessee

Object is memory, texture is time and shine is the reflection of the self.
Over the last decade I have been playing with how the eye filters what the mind  perceives as spacial depth. I use temperature/tonal shifts, varying mark-making  gestures, and different paint finishes that demonstrate Gestaltism in my practice.  Gestaltism is a psychological theory postulating that the mind uses negative space,  shape association, and tonal cues to dictate depth and meaning through vision.
Nostalgia, experience, perception and memory have a huge role in how the eye filters  what the mind perceives as depth. Transferring my concepts from wall paintings to  sculptural objects during this time of quarantine in the studio has allowed me to  understand object as memory, surface texture as time and shine as the reflection of the  self.
We have all lost something this year. I lost my last parent, that sudden unexpected loss  has thrusted my relationship with memory and objects to the front line. By incorporating  more aspects of my tactile skills like sewing, carving, burning, stuffing, and building, I  forced myself to slow down. Feeling an absence is not comfortable, honoring that  feeling and lingering there lets you understand and appreciate that ephemeral aspect of  human experience. Loss is constant but we can build feelings of comfort within our  community, within our practice, within the space we occupy.

Stacked Shadow 7

2021, wood, fire, wax, flashe, 13 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 1 1/2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

This piece is part of a series of multiple  “Stacked Shadows” works where I play with  form and finish. By using wax juxtaposed to  matte finish in flashe vinyl paint I am able to  play with depth and the perception of a void.  This series is a constant play of shape stacked  on itself while removing obvious reference to  material, image and concept. Instead of  lingering in the background of memory foreign  shape comes to the forefront in this series.

Shaped Shadow 2

2021, wood, fire, wax, 27 x 6 x 1 1/2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

This sculpture is a part of a series of a family  portrait. Loss is prevalent in my family- so  much so that before I was 30 I only had my  sister left. We all have shadow selves that  follow us- different identities that shape shift  regularly with each new moment. Giving  attention to those shape shifting shadows  allows them to stand firm in their convictions.  They’re not pretty but these identities of our  selves exist, the dark secrets we hide from  anyone who might protest their existence.  Allowing them to stay in the shadows does not  make them disappear.

Don’t Rest Too Hard

2020-2021, wood, fire, and wax, 7 1/2 x 5 x 3 in.
Courtesy of the artist

One of a series of three sculptures that were  made with the idea of wanting and not wanting  to be touched. The play of form, finish, and  texture were very important for creating that  juxtaposition. Made during quarantine times,  these pieces are about the human condition of  wanting connection, wanting touch while also  pushing away and maintaining the exterior of a  defensive facade. These pieces were my  response to needing comfort while also  pushing that comfort away while dealing with  the loss of my mother.

Anna Dean

Fort Mill, South Carolina

Website: annadeanart.com
Instagram: @annabelle1

As a child, I would often take my toys apart and put them back together, to create something new and gain insight through the process of reconstruction. Now, as an adult, the ideas that I am investigating are complex and layered with no definitive answers. Art allows me the time and space to reflect on these concepts, and to investigate them from multiple perspectives.
My studio process relies upon unexpected visual and conceptual connections that occur when layers of information build, intersect, accumulate and erode. Combining sculpture, installation, and digital projection allows me to explore layers that shift over time and with movement through space. I often combine processes that I can control with those that cannot be controlled – this allows for a push and pull between myself and the artwork itself.

While I Breathe, I Hope #2

2021, steel, acrylic, covid-19 vaccine vials (Moderna & Pfizer), resin, thread, electrical wiring, LED light, 72 x 13 1/2 x 12 in.
Courtesy of the artist

In 2020, in the midst of the global Covid-19 pandemic, I was selected as Artist in Residence at the McColl Center for Art and Innovation. My residency was a partnership with Atrium Health and while there I investigated the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. I had the privilege to witness the mass vaccination event at the Bank of America stadium. There, I watched as 20,000 frontline workers and people over age 65 received their second dose of the vaccine. Many of these people had not left their homes in the past year and it was incredibly emotional to speak with them, as well as the hundreds of volunteers and hospital workers who made this event possible. One of the people I interviewed from Atrium was Dr. Katie Passeretti. She is an infectious disease expert, and she was the first person in N.C. to receive the vaccine. After our interview, I asked if it would be possible for me to access some of the empty vials. A week later, I had 6,000 mostly empty vaccine vials in my studio. I created this sculpture to serve as a beacon of light – honoring those who we have lost, and serving as a reminder of the incredible hope that comes from the sacrifice, innovation, and collaboration that brought us through the past year, to this moment in history.

Sound of One Hand Clapping

2019, steel, wire mesh, acrylic, LED lighting, monafilament, found brake pad, mirror, string, brass, 72 x 34 x 48 in.
Courtesy of the artist

I have been thinking a lot about echo chambers, and how we surround ourselves with those who repeat our own thoughts back to us, until we believe our words are absolute truth. I originally intended the top of this piece to be solid, and it is just the right height for a human to stand and speak into the center, and hear their words echoed around into their own ears. I decided to use wire mesh instead, because it conveys layers and densities as it moves toward the center of the sculpture. The layers build to block out light – signifying how the words may be lies when they come out of our mouths, but by the time they work their way back to our ears, we hear them as truth. The pendulum or plumb bob swings above the mirror, reminding us that no matter how far we swing toward one end or the other, the pendulum will always swing back.

Brent Dedas

Brent Dedas

Columbia, South Carolina

Website: brentdedas.com
Instagram: @brentdedas

Growing up in a working-class blue-collar southern American family has greatly influenced my artistic themes. Being on and around construction sites, as a child and through adulthood, influenced my concepts of building and destroying. Years later these ideas have led to a focus on the “worker bees”. This project is a collaboration with living honeybees and local beekeepers, resulting in large works on paper. The images are life size contact prints made in the sun (not from a digital negative). Incorporating aspects of printmaking, photography and drawing these images were made using organic components, construction materials (sand, earth and rolled plastic) and the presence of honeybees. Each blueprint is a record of light, time and labor. In the fleeting moments that pass during exposure, bees move and vibrate. This movement causes the bees to appear as little ghosts, or soft glowing orbs of light surround by a sea of Prussian blue. Their presence is recorded over long exposures. Many bees huddled together form large beautiful organic shapes. The bees represent the majority of the white (highlight) areas within these works. Honeybees are in no way harmed by this project.

Cosmic Light No. 124

2021, cyanotype/blueprint on paper, 30 x 22 x 2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

This large-scale cyanotype is a life size contact print using sunlight and long exposures – not from a digital negative. While honeybees go about their natural ritual of collecting stores for the winter, the resulting blueprint is created below an acrylic barrier. The process of creating these images becomes a performance of nonstop motion that is parallel to the tireless efforts of the bees in the midday sun. Growing up in a working-class blue-collar southern American family has greatly influenced my artistic themes. Being on and around construction sites, as a child and through adulthood, influenced my concepts of building and destroying. Years later these ideas have led to a focus on the “worker bees”. Honeybees are in no way harmed by this project.

Erin Ethridge

Fleetwood, North Carolina

Website: erinethridge.com / thorncollaborative.com
Instagram: @erin_ethridge

Through sculpture, I aim to insert change, ambiguity, and paradox where there was previously rigidity, separateness, or dogma. Dualisms melt into each other. The sacred is made banal. Inside becomes outside. Artifice is exposed. The body’s pulse is in the machine. The process upsets boundaries and questions creed. Through technology and material poetics, the work takes the form of absurd objects and kinetic sculptures. The work itself is both irreverent and commemorative.
I am also one half of Thorn, a collaborative partnership with Colleen Marie Foley. Thorn questions ideas of shared or composite identity, memory, and body. Taking our relationship as subject and tool, Thorn searches for places where the physical and psychic boundaries between us soften and become permeable. We negotiate dualities of distance/closeness, pleasure/pain, self/other in pursuit of their limits. These efforts take the form of performance work, sculptural tools, electronic media, and short fiction.
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Caught in the Throat

2021, mixed media with dc motor, antique indicator, notebook paper, paraffin wax, 22 x 17 x 7 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Caught in the Throat enshrines that which is left unsaid between loved ones. Animated on an infinite loop, the work replays a single moment where language almost breaches the surface but fails. The attempt only registers on the most of delicate of measuring tools.

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A Measure of Doubt

2020, antique scale, stepper motor, jewelry chain, salt, ashes, hardware, 14 1/2 x 16 1/2 x 8 in.
Courtesy of the artist

The apothecary scale points to a time before there was an agreed upon system of measurement across disciplines or groups of people. I envision early physicians weighing out medicines crudely and then merchants using different systems to measure in commercial contexts, and things getting muddy. I imagine that only adds to a general experience of mystery and confusion about the body and how to know what’s going on inside it. The tools are imperfect, the process is subjective, and the language is imprecise and changes in different contexts.

Animating the scales to move on their own signifies the instability and uncertainty that results from the lack of shared understanding. It is difficult to prescribe and trust and benefit from solutions / healing salves of various kinds when the foundation under them and framework for evaluating / measuring them is contested or shaky.

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Holly Fischer

Raleigh, North Carolina

Website: hollyfischer.com
Instagram: @hollyfischerart

My work explores paradoxes inherent in perceptions of femininity: beauty is both an admired asset and a mistrusted superficiality. I am inspired by the dangerous and alluring beauty of carnivorous plants and poisonous underwater creatures. These seductive and deadly forms readily become metaphors for our culture’s inherent mistrust of female empowerment and common fears regarding gender fluidity and overt sexuality. My work challenges binary restrictions that create an artificial separation between feminine and masculine qualities. I seek to embrace dualities through the morphing of seemingly incongruous attributes to form new identities that are at once familiar and strange, mysterious and beguiling. I hope this subtle tension between viewer and object will encourage observers to question the nature of their fears and desires and contemplate assumptions regarding beauty, gender, and sexuality.

Longing

2019, ceramic, 24 x 18 x 14 in.
Courtesy of the artist

This figurative/botanical abstraction draws its shape and character from carnivorous Venus fly traps and pitcher plants. It is a reflection on the nature of yearning for something that is beyond our reach, the longing to have or become what is forbidden and taboo, the aching hunger of waiting for what we need to sustain ourselves.

Cynthia Flaxman Frank

Charlotte, North Carolina

Website: artwork.cynthiafrankdesign.com
Instagram: @cffrank.art

My work as a graphic designer carries over to the canvas and informs my subject matter and process—symbol, icon, ephemera and text, reproduced, repeated, and collaged. “R$T” and “utopia” are  part of a series called Glyph. Each painting in the series begins as a small mixed media collage which is enlarged, transferred to the canvas, and then undergoes iterative stages and layers of modifications on the new surface. The larger scale transforms the original into a “written” landscape. The recognizable fragments invite interpretation, and play with our instinct to read hidden messages into images—personal, political, conspiratorial or otherwise.

R$t

2020, oil on canvas, 36 x 36 inches
Courtesy of the artist

The Mint Museum

utopia

2020, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches
Courtesy of the artist

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Sophie Glenn

Starkville, Mississippi

Website: sophieglenn.com
Instagram: @arcburn_furniture

The initial impetus for creating my current body of work, ‘Rust Never Sleeps’, was to come up with a way that I could combine my educations in steel fabrication and woodworking, other than using both wood and steel simultaneously. Though the two materials may seem quite different, I found many similarities in the techniques and processes used to make objects, specifically furniture. To name a few, both can require elements of heat to make bends, both can be worked in additive or subtractive ways, and both can be inlaid or pieced together to create decorative patterns. Ultimately, I found that the best way to highlight these similarities in the realm of furniture making was to eliminate wood entirely from my process. By recreating classic furniture designs completely out of painted and rusted steel, I am able to pay homage to, and in some ways make fun of both craft disciplines and the history of furniture making. At first glance, the pieces appear to be made of wood, and are often met with personal memories and connotations from viewers. With closer inspection however, it is revealed that the works are just not quite right, with rust spots, humorous images, or implied textiles, among other effects. I encourage viewers to experience wood and steel in a new light, and reevaluate their relationship to furniture.

Black Sheep

2020, Painted and rusted steel, and hand spun steel wool, 30 x 24 x 24 in.
Courtesy of the artist

For this corner chair, I wanted to use steel wool as a fibrous material that can mimic traditional rush seating that was often used in chairs of this style. I spun the steel wool into long cords that could then be woven together to make the seat. Doing this highlights another way in which steel manipulated for the purposes of making furniture.

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King Nobuyoshi Godwin

Raleigh, North Carolina

Website: kinggodwin.com
Instagram: @kinggodwinart

King expresses his feelings about the important things in life and love in his paintings. He believes in his work and each creation is precious to him. Colors and numbers are friends with their own special meanings. To King, 4500 is the happiest number, but 07 is sad, while 77 is a good day! He smiles when he paints and pours his feelings into each canvas. King thinks being autistic is pretty lucky because it gives him the capability to see beautiful trees and talk to them. Every piece purchased supports his ability to live independently. King’s career as a professional artist is not only inspiring, it serves as proof that life with a disability can be productive and meaningful!

The Camel is having a good day because it’s with the seal and the water ’99

2021, acrylic and ink on canvas, 72 x 60 x 3 in.
Courtesy of the artist

I like the camel because it has sweet eyes and nice toes and that is the number 99. I think the camel likes to have a water bag when travels. And that is a good feeling, and it is the feeling of being like a seal in the water and swimming. That is number 97, and it’s wonderful.

Donte Hayes

Kennesaw, Georgia

Website: www.dontekhayes.com
Instagram: @dontekhayes

My research has been focused on the pineapple as a symbol which represents welcoming and hospitality. This investigation in the rituals, and the action of being welcomed or hospitable to others is from my own experiences. I have encountered many struggles in negotiating public spaces as a black man and person of color. Through this inquiry, the tradition of the pineapple as a symbol for hospitality is rooted in slavery and agricultural colonization of South America, the Caribbean, and the Southern United States in particularly, South Carolina and my home state of Georgia. When slave ships bringing enslaved Africans docked at wharf, the foremen placed a pineapple on a spike. The pineapple now, becoming the beacon to identify a new shipment of enslaved Africans has arrived. This originating the pineapple as a symbol for welcoming.
From this research my art practice pulls from my interest in hip-hop culture, history, and science fiction. The artwork references the visual traditions from the Southern United States, Caribbean, South America, and the African continent. I utilize printmaking, installation, and performance to elevate the importance of my ceramic sculptures as a historical and creative base material to inform memories of the past. The handling of clay reveals the process and shares the markings of its maker. Ceramics becomes a bridge to conceptually integrate disparate objects and or images for the purpose of creating new understandings and connections with the material, history, and social-political issues. I compare the construction and deconstruction of materials to the remix in rap music and how human beings adapt to different environments and reinvent new identities. These ceramic objects are vessels, each making symbolic allusions to the black body. The artwork suggest the past, discuss the present, and explore possible futures interconnected to the African Diaspora. While also examining deeper social issues which broaden the conversation between all of humanity.

Sunken

2021, ceramic (black clay body), 3.5 x 6.25 x 5.5
Courtesy of Mindy Solomon Gallery and the artist

Similar to a body when sunken into a couch. This work discusses the unconscious place where black thought is taken and perceived by those in society.

Atlantis

2020, ceramic (black clay body), 11.5 x 7 x 7
Courtesy of Mindy Solomon Gallery and the artist

This sculpture speaks to the European colonization of the continent of Africa for its artifacts, people, environmental resources, and culture. In particular, the German explorer Leo Frobenius who in the early 1900s thought the greatness and roots of the Yoruba people’s culture must have begun with the mythical Atlantis.

Weave

2019, ceramic (black clay body), 10 x 7.5 x 5.5
Courtesy of Mindy Solomon Gallery and the artist

This sculpture is inspired by the gatekeeping of weaving family traditions onto the next generation. Creating a path for future growth to understand your past and present.

Breath

2020, ceramic, 9 x 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

The words of Eric Garner, “I can’t breathe.” This work speaks to elevate the black body in its entire breath of life and not only through death and trauma. Black joy and excellence must be celebrated.

Emily Jahr

Dawsonville, Georgia

Website: emmygracephotography
Instagram: @emmy_grace_photography

The south is a stereotype in of itself in the United States and carries around an appealing aesthetic many people travel far to experience. Soft summer sun, home baked goods, and local eclectic stores are on people’s minds when they venture to this part of the country. However, the deepest parts of the south are often overlooked and crowded out by assumptions of its past. Forgotten towns, abandoned family homes, and some of the strangest stories you’ll hear inhabit the North Georgia mountains. I have grown up loving the bright summers and the cherry southern attitude, but I’ve also been entranced by the haunting history of my hometown and surrounding areas. This portfolio is an opportunity to venture into the haunting areas of North Georgia.
My vision was embodied at a very specific time of night. I am accustomed to shooting at golden hour or before, but for this series I wanted to push the boundaries of blue hour. The eerie tones, the muted highlights, and the opportunity for unique lighting is what inspired me. I began researching my area by talking to locals and driving around the mountains to find the perfect locations, many of which I was well versed in. I knew that in order to give my images a story along with their aesthetic appeal I would have to show the buildings and strange places that came with a haunting history.

Come Closer

2021, photography
Courtesy of the artist

Come closer is an abandoned farm house in the mountains of North Georgia secluded from any natives. Upon visiting the site, there a sense of presence around the house though its supposed to be abandoned. Using red light, I highlighted this haunting feeling. This is also a composite image in order to create linear visual effects and draw the viewer in. Referencing the name of the image.

House

2021, photography
Courtesy of the artist

Exhibiting the nature of Southern Farming, this decrepit farm house stands set back from a dirt road in the midst of abandoned farm supplies. Ivy had claimed the building, yet it still has the architectural features of southern builds. The light in the window created a composite image in order to reference the once lively environment that now dwells empty and forgotten.

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Chloe Kaylor

Mount Holly, North Carolina

Website: chloekaylor.com
Instagram: @chloed.kaylor

Exercises in process and labor are central to my current studio practice. Through my work, I have begun to examine my relationship with exertion and subconscious systems of appraisal. The past and present state of the American experience is reflected in my work as I explore themes involving the substance of Americana, industry, and class identity. I take a fluid approach to creating and acknowledge any arising obstacles as active contributors to the process. This playfulness in making results in pieces that are representative of a series of problems solved and decisions made. In this regard, I classify labor as a medium that is crucial to the integrity of my practice. I enjoy working at the intersection of traditional fabrication techniques and unconventional processes, both of which I tend to implement when creating. I favor the use of humble materials, and am interested in the recontextualization of familiar objects when assessed through a formal lens.

Untitled: Denim

2020, denim, thread, sawdust, 96 x 36 x 96 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Untitled: Denim is comprised of repurposed blue jeans sewn into long sheaths, which are stuffed with sawdust and displayed on a steel armature. The weight and density of the sheaths give them an almost humanoid quality, leading the denim forms to become personified. This piece is conceptually driven by the illusion of individuality within a capitalist society, and our collective struggle for uniqueness.

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Brianna Litchfield

Chatanooga, Tennessee

Website: semisweetdesign.com
Instagram: @semisweetie

Brianna Litchfield (American, b. 1992) is interested in connections. Personal connections. Ideological connections. Geographic connections. Physical connections. Universal connections. Grey matter connections… Through her design practice, she aims to reveal connections and hold them so they can be questioned. This discourse, this value found, this fascination with the banal and what we thought we knew is what drives her.
Finishing her BFA in Graphic Design at the University of Tennessee in spring 2021 has provided Litchfield some insight into what people turn to in times of inner need and unique catalysts in her life have driven her to explore her perception and connection to the human desire to believe in something beyond our perception. Starting with an interest in star charts and greek mythology, Litchfield experimented with her yearning to connect with the supernatural, resulting in an indexing of her own life along daily horoscopes and astrology. That longing has developed into a more encompassing project that explores the supernatural and spiritual further, probing her own beliefs and emotional response to the intangible.

Catalyst

2021, birch plywood, mixed media, 69 x 38 x 7 in.
Courtesy of the artist

I don’t believe. I don’t believe in soulmates, that there’s a superior pet, or genuinely bad people. I don’t believe in heaven, hell, God… but I used to. Life happens. You take a few years off school, lose your father suddenly, end a seven year relationship… and you reevaluate. The relief I feel away from religion has enhanced every part of my life, yet something is missing; a hole left in my chest, one that religion and the belief in something more once filled. Its yearning to be satisfied, while quiet, is constant. I find my heart reaching at the thought of animism, palm readings, birth charts, the third eye, and, even still, the Bible. This desire to feed the pit in my chest is visualized before you. These abstract, intangible ideas permeate my thoughts and create a desire within me. There is an excited longing that fills my being as I take in these beliefs and hold them, grasping for their promised answers and connections. These ideas wrap me up in the blanket of the universe, bonding me to something outside my grasp; a warm hug that allows me to feel intimately, completely, and invisibly part of something more.

Masela Nkolo

Duluth, Georgia

Website: maselankolo.art
Instagram: @masela_nkolo

My current work revolves around my personal experience and I draw cultural inspiration from ancient African art, specifically from the Kingdom of Kongo, Kuba, and Mali Empire. By combining different material and ideas from past and present, I merge them together to create and portray unseen individuals’ worlds that are within this world, which is syncretism, my genre of expression. Notions of good and evil, truth, the cycles of death and life are my areas of exploration. I use aliens, robots, to represent human beings. My depictions of aliens and robots act as metaphors for human behavior and cycles of violence. My work is a kind of medicine for the intrusive behavior of humans towards other humans and nature.

Proletariat

metal and glass
Courtesy of the artist

Chieko Murasugi

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Website: chiekomurasugi.com
Instagram: @cmurasugi

I employ the language of abstraction to challenge simplistic interpretations of personal and collective narratives and histories. Through my Japanese-Canadian-American lens I mine and synthesize diverse histories, materials, and artistic influences to create works that address contemporary issues while defying, especially Orientalist, stereotypes and tropes.
I am drawn to dualities and dichotomies: art and science, Asian and Western, geometric and organic, clarity and ambiguity, personal and collective, historic and contemporary. In my collaged paintings I combine archival pieces that contain material references to my personal and family histories, alongside pigmented areas with shifting planes and spaces that allude to the elusive nature of perception. I strive to integrate seemingly contradictory impulses to produce enigmatic works that speak to questions of identity, history, and epistemology.

In a Grove (Pandemic Time Series)

2021, acrylic and collage (paper, diary pages, ink, cheesecloth, thread, acrylic) on panel, 36 x 48 x 2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

In A Grove derives its title from a short story by Akutagawa that inspired Kurosawa’s film, Rashomon (1950), which investigates conflicting eye-witness accounts of a crime. My practice examines the nature of truth and the challenge of accessing it given lapses in time and memory, as well as through deliberate obstruction. During the pandemic, disinformation about COVID-19 was disseminated throughout various media outlets, and I wondered if and/or when we would be out of the woods from this virus.

Perceptual Dance (No Thing is Simple Series)

2019, flashe paint and collage (paper, staples, ink, thread, acrylic) on panel, 54 x 36 x 2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

I employ visual illusions in my work as a metaphor for the elusive and complex nature of perception, which helps shape personal and collective narratives and histories. The deep cultural-ideological divisions in America have developed in part from the profoundly different perceptions and interpretations an individual or group derives from events past and present.

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Malik Norman

Waxhaw, North Carolina

Website: malikjnorman
Instagram: @malikjnorman

Malik J. Norman (b.1997) is native to the unceded territory of the Waxhaw, Catawba, and Cheraw people presently recognized as the Black realm of Western Union Park in Mineral Springs, NC. His rural roots empower his spirit. Classically trained in photography at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
As a visual artist subjugated to light and image-making, Malik renders radiance to explore his southern identity, rural realms, while paying homage to the legacy of Black Gold. The heart of his work exists within the intersection of public scholarship, project management, and creativity to solve problems with local hued communities. The camera is his “choice of weapons” for reimagining self and for Negro liberation.

To Be So Black and Blue

2021, Van Dyke Brown and Cyanotype on Paper, 24 x 45 x 1 in.
Courtesy of the artist

To Be so Black and Blue is an autobiographical response to Louis Armstrong song “Black and Blue”. The visual abstraction uses the memory as a tool to explore identity and liberation.

Serena Perrone

Atlanta, Georgia

Email: serenaperrone.com
Instagram: @serena_perrone_artist

Serena Perrone’s work falls under the umbrella of Expanded Printmaking. Her studio practice now routinely includes installations of various works utilizing photography, casting, hand-built ceramics, dimensional and serial prints. Her work is often in direct response to landscape in literature and poetry, and her own writing and text-based work is also an important component of her research. She engages with the nostalgic landscape, utilizing framing devices resulting in work that references the hidden, ‘almost-seen’, and vernacular storytelling through layered pieces exploring the problems of nostalgia and the poetics and the perils of place. She is embarking on a cross-disciplinary exploration of sites of personal significance, and theaters of cultural identity – as the daughter of an immigrant and as a dual US/Italian citizen, she looks to these landscapes and complex contradictions within each to understand the relationship with place, past and present, and enchantment and disenchantment. She focuses on scenes that invite both furtive and explicit looking, mediated by mirrors, portals, and prosceniums. Serena is drawn to peripheral, abandoned and unknown corners. These sites of hidden, illicit, forgotten or imagined stories, whose mystery lies in the obfuscation of location and time, become points of departure for new work.

Sideroads in Stereoscopes

2020, digital work
Courtesy of the artist

Sideroads in Stereoscope combines imagery of Iceland and Sicily in side-by-side landscapes. This project is connected to the book of poetry “Sideroads” by the late Icelandic poet Jonas Thorbjarnarson and consists of tiny postage-stamp sized cyanotypes of the Icelandic and Sicilian landscape that bear uncanny resemblances to one another. Often shot through the windows of moving cars or while walking in remote locations including lava tubes, basalt caves, and rocky beaches, these quickly framed images are presented side-by side as if they were two views of the same scene from slightly different perspectives, as would be done to create a stereoscope, a photographic effect that fools the eye into superimposing two scenes, resulting in the sensation of seeing an image in 3-D. The portfolio of the resulting cyanotypes that were used as frames for the animation will eventually include Icelandic and Italain text and is in-progress.

Talisman Suite: 2020

2020, ceramic
Courtesy of the artist

This suite of five ceramic pieces was created between March and August of 2020 while in isolation in Atlanta during Covid. The imagery takes cues from Luca della Robbia and Giacomo Serpotta, and reprises motifs from Something is About to Happen, Fata Morgana/Mondo Nuovo, Janus Series, and my photographic work. Top left to bottom right: Talismano: La fionda (Talisman: The Slingshot);Grasp gently the Devil’s Trumpet; Polifemo: Don’t look now (Polyphemus: Don’t Look Now); Tenere la corna in mano (Have the horns in hand); Primavera sulla collina (Spring on the hill)

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Kristin Rothrock

Charlotte, North Carolina

Instagram: @rothrockristin

Why use the Artists’ Book format? The book is an accessible format; intimate, personal, sequential, familiar. It is a place to bring together old and new materials and technologies. It is interactive and fun to touch. It allows viewers to experience the work with the senses; sight of printed, folded, collaged, punched, cut, drawn pages, sound of pages turning, paper crinkling, smell of ink and glue, touch of page surface under thumb, paper thickness, surface soft, firm and, ok, so we don’t taste Artists’ Books but sometimes, you might want to try. It is a challenging format that I keep returning to.
What do I make art about? I make art about what is around me; place, stories, history, people, family.
What does your art mean to you? Art for me is about process, materials, play and problem solving. Making art is a form of thinking. Art is often about surprise because I am never really sure what I am doing.
What do you want your audience to get out of viewing your art? I would like to offer them an intimate experience, a moment of pause, a step away from technology, an appreciation for materials overlooked.

Women Rock

2020, mixed media artists’ book; woodcut images on Twinrocker handmake paper, relief printed wood type, ink, various Japanese papers, hardcover codex, 11 x 11 x 1/2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

After reading Kim Gordon’s book Girl in a Band, (Gordon played bass for Sonic Youth), I wanted to create a project addressing the lie I had been told growing up, that white men created rock and roll. At age 11, I knew of Susie Quatro and Joan Jett, but I did not learn of Sister Rosetta Tharpe until I looked for her. After researching Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Janis Joplin, Keith Richards, Joan Jett, B.B. King, Lou Reed, Joe Strummer, Prince, Tom Petty and others, it became clear the origin of rock traces back to Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s influence on Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley. Woodcut illustrations of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Aretha Franklin, Moe Tucker, Susie Quatro, Joan Jett, Odetta, Chrissie Hynde, Brittany Howard and others reveal strong female rockers playing their instruments. Names are printed in silver wood type juxtaposed across rough-cut portraits printed in black ink on black paper; portraits show each musicians’ strength and their presence in the shadow. Words are skewed throughout the book, “A black woman created rock…”; text is jumbled at first but after repeat printing, the message becomes clear.

Liz Rundorff Smith 

Travelers Rest, South Carolina

Website: lizrundorffsmith.com
Instagram: @lizrundorffsmithstudio

I am interested in the need to assign meaning to seemingly valueless things because they are things that represent a connection to a deeper experience. In my work I am elevating the mundane, assigning meaning in the same way that we bring significance to loss with keepsakes and memorials. I want to create work that evokes a sense of nostalgia and exposes the sentimentality in memory. Color choice is tied to the decor and design trends of decades past that have become kitschy artifacts. Forms reference fragments of common spaces and utilitarian objects while shifting to suggest the passage of time and the loss of stability that accompanies remembrance. Shapes intimate things that are no longer identifiable but retain familiarity. I am mimicking the past, attempting to reproduce the original while allowing imperfection and a lack of precision to create work that exploits the failure in repetition and the fragility in recollection.

Sickening

2020, encaustic medium and artificial carnations on wood panel, 36 x 36 x 3 in.
Courtesy of the artist

I’m interested in the idea of accessible memorials. Roadside memorials fill an interesting space between public and private grief. They are made of materials, like artificial flowers, that are easily accessible so they can memorialize anyone and create a commonality in how we remember a life. Roadside memorials challenge the historic public monument by presenting personal history in a public space. Death was a universal fixation in 2020 for many reasons so the title “Sickening” reflects the experience of a global pandemic as well as my personal feelings about what I was witnessing in the media. At the same time sickening is a drag term that means looking so good it makes you sick (in a good way) – so the word introduces the idea of a cover or finding joy and beauty in pain.

Hannah Shaban

Charlotte, North Carolina

Website: hannahshaban.com
Instagram: @Hannah.shaban

Family narrative and more recently broader cultural myth and fantasy, both of Western and Eastern conception, along with the rampant commodification of culture serve as the basis for my work. Born in North Carolina to Lebanese immigrants, my identity played out as a negotiation between two disparate cultures, navigating feelings of belonging and otherness. Frequent trips to Lebanon instilled culture, language, and tradition, widening the discord between being Arab and American. I began using clay as a third language, translating personal and family memory and expectations into something tangible that can be physically shared with others.
In an effort to further explore the elements of culture and experiences that form my identity, I have recently been creating my own ‘cultural artifacts’ that live outside of globalized imagery and revise the Orientalist perspective; objects that represent my singular Arab American experience that others might reflect in. These objects are an imposition of my complex relationship with my hybridized identity on recognizable historic Western imagery and myth all coated in various shades of brown. My aim with these ‘artifacts’ is to create an archive of Arab American imagery that does not ignore its past, recognizes its imperial influences, and demarcates visual space for brown bodies and those who can identify with the experience. These figures and fragments offer reflection and insight on the experience of dispersal in diasporic communities and efforts to negotiate what we were and what we are becoming.

Imaginary Orient

2021, ceramic, mixed media, wood, sand, 65 x 66 x 32 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Imaginary Orient is a self-portrait in response to Jean Leon Gerome’s painting The Snake Charmer. In his painting he employs realism and an abundance of details to convince Western viewers that the Middle East is an exotic and beautiful locale filled with depraved men, that sexualize young boys. This form of Imperialist propaganda was created to justify Western involvement in the region and to paint its people as primitive and incapable of governing themselves and preserving the beauty of their surroundings. While not as overt or crude, Western opinion of and involvement in the Middle East has not lessened. I place myself in the position of the young boy, at the center of the Western gaze. Exoticized for my appearance; flattened and misunderstood throughout my experience of navigating American society; a spectator to the over commodification of my culture.

Wahib’s Western Adventure

2020, ceramic, fabric, mixed media, 53 x 106 x 17 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Between the historical examples of the misrepresentation of Arab people and current fears perpetuated by the actions of radicals, Arab males especially experience difficulty negotiating prejudice and imbedded suspicions. I thought to myself, what was the worst crime any of the males in my family committed in this country? The attempted kidnapping of a Canadian goose! When my grandfather, Wahib, first moved to The States, he was waiting in a parking lot for my grandmother when he saw a flock of fine fowl. To him, they looked like a proper delicacy! Not to miss a good opportunity, he slowly pulled his car up beside one and snatched it by the neck. He gets out of his vehicle as its honking and thrashing about to put it in the trunk when authorities see him and come to stop him. As they are yelling at him to unhand the goose, in his poor English, all he is able to do is gesture to his mouth and repeat “food, food, good food!” And there you have it folks, the most terrible action committed. Again, I use art historical motifs found in classical portraiture to depict him as a powerful male and a threat when in fact he is utterly powerless.

Sharon Shapiro 

Charlottesville, Virginia

Website: sharonshapiro.com
Instagram: @sharonshapiro

My paintings portray opposing forces, subject matter, both gentle and abrasive, fantastic and natural, utopian and dystopian. Based on collages that I create from staged photos and found images, my work chronicles the complexities of growing up female in the American South.
I present a contemporary viewpoint on femininity and feminism. I utilize visual disruption to create a curiously discordant scene that breaks open the viewers’ relationship to the subject, juxtaposing fashion’s frivolity with the significance of pattern and color. Beauty serves as a temptation for the viewer. Upon closer inspection, cracks in the artifice reveal obscured narratives and hidden meanings. I confront the past alongside the superfluity and temporality of the current 24-hour news cycle. Inspired by personal events, local lore, and pop-cultural references, I present the viewer a world, both private and universal, in which time coalesces and collapses.
My work results from a continuing endeavor to establish a sense of place in a world where meaning shifts and memory fails. Using nostalgia to attack and revere these recollections simultaneously, I challenge the viewer to differentiate between mythology and history. I question how these roles play out in larger cultural narratives.

The Falconer

2021, oil on canvas, 32 x 30 x 2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

I created this painting while listening to the seminal collection of essays, Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion. The collage that I used as a springboard for the painting consists of an image from a 1965 Better Homes and Gardens magazine, a Black model, and a falcon resting on a falconer’s hand. While working, I learned that the title of Didion’s book is derived from the famous poem by William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming, which coincidentally conjures imagery of the falcon and the falconer. The basic theme of the poem is the death of the old world, to be followed by the rebirth of a new one, drawing upon Biblical symbolism of the apocalypse and the second coming of Christ. I see this painting as a symbol of reparation and power.

Randy Simmons

Paducah, Kentucky

Website: randysimmonsdrawings.com
Instagram: @randysimmonsdrawings

I have a BFA in Painting, 1988, an MA in Drawing, 1991, both degrees from Murray State University. I also have an MFA in Drawing, 1995, minor in Printmaking, from the University of Cincinnati. I began drawing as a child, like most artists, and didn’t take it seriously until I took a freshman drawing class at Murray for fun. In the summers of 1986 and 1988, I toured Great Britain, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland in a student study abroad program based in London. My main medium is charcoal, but I enjoy graphite pencils, conté, pastels, and printmaking in general. Photography is another interest but as a means to create drawings. Currently, I am a Professor of Art at the Paducah School of Art and Design teaching Drawing I, II, Life Draw- ing, Introduction to Art, and Survival Skills for the Artist (Portfolio Development). I have been a recipient of two Kentucky Arts Council Grants in 2005 and 2007. During the summer months, I teach photography and drawing for the Kentucky Institute for International Studies and have visited Costa Rica, Panama, Italy and most of Europe.

You and the Clouds

2020, charcoal and white conte, 47 x 47 in.
Courtesy of the artist

A portrait of my mom at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and the start of my family portrait series. I photographed her after putting her groceries away. We had taken her car keys. Her hearing had worsened and she uses a walker now, but despite all, she seemed in good spirits. I wanted a busy drawing, lots of details and patterns and heavily drawing on an organic, floral Art Nouveau style. This was the last work of art I made when my mother looked this healthy and radiant.

Anne Stagg

Tallahassee, Florida

Website: annestagg.com
Instagram: @anne_stagg_studio

My work is a reflection of my life. I grew up in Alabama where football was religion and religion was law. I cared for neither, but still I was raised in a strict, religious, single-parent home with 5 siblings. We never quite fit in – we lived in a good neighborhood, but when my father took off we had no means to get by. My mom found low paying work as a secretary and later, took on a waitressing job at an all-night diner so that she could be home to put us to bed at night and get us ready for school in the morning. I don’t know when she slept. We learned to get by, hide our needs, and pretend we were okay, but every day was a struggle to afford even our basic living expenses. We all worked odd jobs to help out: a paper route, babysitting, lawn and pet care. I longed for anyone to see our pain and offer an escape to the constant struggles. When that didn’t come, I learned to wear my struggles as a carapace. I tried to mirror my mom’s indefatigable drive, grand expectations, and hard-won successes, but I knew the feeling of invisibility.
My paintings tend to be labor intensive, pattern-based abstractions and within each I intentionally rely on imperfections of my hand to reveal limitations in the systems I create. It is easy to view my work as geometric abstraction, never noticing the deliberate flaws. I am interested in creating an allusion of mechanical precision that gives way under close scrutiny. Whether referencing the invisibility of the working class, or the desire to hide any perceived short-comings within a veil of subterfuge, or a network so large that the individual too often gets lost, my work addresses systemic imbalance and a struggle to be noticed.

Bee in Her Bonnet

2019, acrylic and Flashe on canvas, 24 x 24 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Play and experimentation are guiding forces in my work. I am drawn to the in-between moments when something appears to be one thing but slowly reveals itself as another. The repeated lines in these works initially appear to be mechanically produced but evidence of the hand calls that into questions through rough edges and misalignments. What initially seems rigid has an underlying quirkiness that begins to take over the longer you look.

Balancing Act

2021, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 24 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Balancing Act is part of a series inspired by the complexities of work/life balance. Like many women, I often tend to overload my schedule, do too many things, fill too many roles, and rarely take time for self-care. This reached a crescendo a few years ago and I reached a breaking point. I had been caring for an elderly parent with significant medical needs, parenting a small child, sleeping very little, and working full time in a demanding job. This experience caused me to realize just how often I was running to catch up, working ahead whenever possible to create some breathing room, and in all other times trying to balance my obligations as well as I could. The pandemic exacerbated this struggle for balance as I added remote schooling to the list. In this painting I reference the frenetic, saturated and sometimes overwhelming aspects of life alongside a rhythmic meter that acts as a balancing framework. The tension in the work speaks to the struggle to maintain balance and the occasional slips.

Scaffold

2021, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 24 in.
Courtesy of the artist

I am drawn to architectural facades and how they cover up or alter the exterior of buildings. They act as a shell for what is beneath, often adding ornament and perceived value to something ordinary. I am equally drawn to the vents, pipes, and systems that provide service to the building but are hidden. There is a separation: a disguise or mask hiding what is inconvenient or ugly. We do this with buildings and we do this with people. How often do we really see, or even think to look beyond what is immediately visible? We employ a sense of magical thinking and apply it ubiquitously across our lives, rendering invisible what we do not wish to perceive.
I create layered paintings in which detailed visual elements beg to be seen but are covered over, often by blanket systems of pattern. There are hints of the previous work like gaps where previous elements peek through, and the telltale surface scars from the paint below, but they require careful observation. I am interested in ideas of scaffolding and protection but also in ideas of evolution and change – like a palimpsest where one thing covers over another, but the erasure is incomplete.

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Leigh Suggs

Richmond, Virginia

Website: leighsuggs.com
Instagram: @leighsuggs

I am interested in an in-between space during the act of seeing. The in-between space lies on the spectrum of the reality in front of us and what our brain tells us. It is within this “pure” space, that an individual can experience an unaltered, unaffected, and unchanged vision. While this purity can only exist for a fleeting moment, that moment defines the highest peak of personal experience. After this moment passes, the sight/vision can never be the same. We are constantly bearing witness to the inexpressible, and this fleeting moment of pure seeing is something we should all revel in.
Deceptively simple and minimalistic in content, my work asks the viewer to be patient and to contemplate what is happening. I explore movement, light, and translucency through the use of singular, pattern producing gestures. The reflective surfaces and vibrant intense colors are a simultaneous reflection of physical and psychological states, which make my work ocular and auric. I make art that investigates visual manipulations as subdued objects and experiences.

Pacing the Races IV

2020, hand-cut acrylic on Yupo, 60 x 60 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Using hand-cut paper, my work exploring the in-between space during the act of seeing is created to engender constructive questioning. What is it we’re looking at and what are we really seeing? And how can we keep our focus amid endless distractions? The thoughts that arise as we patiently look at what is in front of us go beyond what our brain is telling us. In our current cultural climate, the loss of concentration, productivity, or deep thought have perforated our awareness. Most of our viewing is done on a screen which causes headline fatigue and zombie scrolling – all of which can devolve into dangerous levels of detachment and desensitization. Our emotional brains have not evolved to keep up with the volume and speed of everything coming at us. So we shut down, we stop processing — we become bystanders. Pacing the Races with loops and twists, illustrates how readily our brains can shift into survival mode. It’s about finding a way through or out of something in a labyrinthine environment. Confronted with these hypnotic, maze-like pieces, the eye automatically begins tracing a path to find a way out – only to realize there was never a start and there is never an end.

Saba Taj

Durham, North Carolina

Website: itssabataj.com
Instagram: @itssabataj

My work engages with representation and its role in mainstream fantasies of race, gender and identity. I focus on individuals and communities who flourish in the chasms and intersections between established categories, whose embodied illegibility destabilizes the curated social order. I strive to maintain that natural resistance to classification, and consider not only who is being represented, but how, for whom, and to what end. In my most recent project, I am painting portraits of queer Muslims, a group often deemed “impossible” or paradoxical, and with whom I share identities, community, and even chosen family. Before photographing subjects, I conducted interviews that focused on their personal mythologies, spirituality, and pleasure. Our relationship is critical to the ethics of the work, as I relate to them not as an outside observer, but as a friend. I paint their faces in entirety before cloaking them with color and glitter, describing then concealing them. They look directly back at the viewer, present and emerging from surrealist dreamscapes of liquid sunsets, oversized flowers, and portals to elsewhere. With these strategies, I aim to interrupt the lacerating gaze and as Trinh Minh-Ha describes, “speak nearby, in proximity…suspend meaning, preventing it from merely closing and hence leaving a gap in the formation process.” Into that gap, I interject beauty as a language for devotion, an antidote for harm, and an alternative to publicly leveraging trauma in exchange for humanity. I render the subjects and their environments lavishly; they shimmer with glitter, rhinestones, appliqués, and beads, objects and imagery that are drawn from our queer and diasporic heritages. Sewing in items like bridal tulle, golden thread and brocaded trims, I approach each portrait as a love letter, employing embellishment as a ritual of care. This work is for my friends at the intersections, the borders, the threshold, who deserve to be witnessed alive and without containment, in the lush and liberatory liminal spaces they create and reside in.

Babyking

2020, oil paint, acrylic paint, silk flowers, organza, plastic pearls, glitter, sequins, beads, rhinestones, tassels, trims on canvas, 72 x 72 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Cornell Watson

Durham, North Carolina

Website: cornellwatson.com
Instagram: @cornwhizzle

Mask: a protective covering This photo series is in honor of my ancestors who smiled when they were not happy, laughed when nothing was funny, and cried when they were not sad so that I could be here today. This is for the time we cut or straighten our hair to be “professional”. For the times we pretend to be happy around our managers after seeing photos of them in Blackface. For the days we show up to work and smile after watching our brothers and sisters lynched on live stream. For the times we change our voices and profile pics to make hotel and dinner reservations. For the times we pretend to be strong when we are dying from the weight of racism. For the times we cheerfully congratulate white mediocrity getting the big promotion. For the times we remove our hijab before the job interview. For the times we speak English in public to avoid confrontation. For the times we are referred to as the other Black employee and we don’t correct them. For the times we are asked to clean something up because they assume we are the janitor. For the times we are told to go back to our country and would go if we knew what country we came from. For the times we are followed around while shopping and resign to purchase something to prove a point. For the times we don’t lay hands after being called nigger. This is for all the times we wore the mask.

The Drowning

2020, digital photography, 24 x 36 in.
Courtesy of the artist

My best friend is the father of three Black boys and it was his birthday. The police murders of Ahmaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd were front of mind and this birthday celebration was supposed to be a brief break from reality. We were pouring drinks in the kitchen when I asked him how it felt turning another year older. What he said I was not expecting. The essence of his response was that his birthday was a reminder that he is one more year closer to having to explain to his boys why playing outside with toy guns was dangerous. One more year closer to explaining why that unarmed Black man died at the hands of those paid to protect him. One more year closer to having that dreadful talk about being Black boys in America. We created this photo on another Birthday, the 4th of July. In the process of creating the photograph someone approached and asked, “what is this supposed to represent?” Shortly after a white woman paddled by in her boat. She yelled to her husband, “Look honey! Look at the flag, that’s just not right!” She could only see the flag submerged in the water and not us drowning in it.

Ajane Williams

Charlotte, North Carolina

Website: ajanekwilliams.com
Instagram: @artofajane

Being a Black woman in this lifetime, especially in America, I always felt like I was trapped in a box. This box was filled with limiting ideas of who I am supposed to be in other’s minds because of my skin color and it was also filled with my own historical and generational pain and trauma that I’ve been suffering from for way too long. At one point of my life, I thought this box was my reality…and I believed it. But now, I am at a place where I feel so close to divinity. I have been reminded by the cosmos, universe, and God that I am infinite and divine. That it is safe to be transparent. I am boundless, enormous, and everlasting…I am continuously shape shifting from place to place, bending time, and curving space. I shed my skin, my muscles, my bones, my organs and I am left with all of these shapes, lines, and colors…which is the core of who I am in this reality and alternate realities. I define who I am and there is so much power to that. I am…I am free.

In the Flux

2021, acrylic on window blind, 66 x 67 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Channeling

2021, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 36 in.
Courtesy of the artist

April Wright

Germantown, Tennessee

Website: apriljwright.org
Instagram: @apriljwright

I use humble everyday materials to simulate fragile moments that live in between abandonment and renewal, connecting emotional and physical landscapes of home. Inspiration is drawn from the mundane tasks of everyday life, memories, fragile narratives, and complex emotional support systems that inhabit the home. My installations and sculptures are precarious and redolent with gestures of longing for stability within the home.
 My concept of home represents an ambivalence, as a space that can be supportive and nurturing, and at the same time oppressive and disorienting. In my work, I express complex relationships in a space where melancholy is materialized. Using repurposed, discarded materials to create metaphors for emotional support structures, the work expresses this ambivalent urgency to bury the past, while existing in the present with resilient adaptability.
The materials that I primarily use are clay, paper, and fiber because they are easily accessible and are a part of everyday life. I also appreciate how elemental and easily overlooked they become as an everyday material. In these works that are redolent with ambiguity, tattered, disjointed paper windows sag off the wall, while dusty colorful fibers entangle voids for these sculptures. The physical properties of my materials which were once delicate and flexible are now stiff and dried. Essentially, we touch clay every day; from the ceramic plates off of which we eat, to the coffee cup we hold as we read, to the porcelain sinks and toilets that we use daily. I am interested in using clay in its broken-down stages to highlight the elemental tactility of the material as traces and remnants of human lived experiences. Building from humble materials and abstracting them into metaphors of specific human experiences compels me to continuously search for redemptive moments in these fragile narratives.

Another Time, Once More

2020, shredded clothing found inside a punching bag, cotton thread, mop yarn, wire, and metal curtain hooks, 71 x 18 1/4 x 4 1/2 in.
Courtesy of the artist

MEET THE JURORS

Hallie Ringle

Hallie Ringle

Birmingham, Alabama

Website: artsbma.org

Hallie Ringle is the Hugh Kaul Curator of Contemporary Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art where she’s curated Celestia Morgan: REDLINE and Wall to Wall: Merritt Johnson (co-curated). She was formerly Assistant Curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem where she curated Maren Hassinger: Monuments, Firelei Baez: Joy Out of Fire, Fictions (co-curated), Rico Gatson: Icons 2007–2017, Video Studio: Meeting Points, Palatable: Food and Contemporary Art, and Salon Style. She is a fall 2018 Andy Warhol Curatorial Fellow. She has a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MA from the University of Texas at Austin.
Lydia Thompson

Lydia Thompson

Charlotte, NC

Website: charlotte.edu

Lydia Thompson is a mixed-media sculptor, educator, and advocate for the arts. She received her bachelor of fine arts degree from The Ohio State University and her master of fine arts degree from the New York College of Ceramics at Alfred University. She received a Fulbright Hayes grant to conduct research on traditional architecture in Nigeria and received educational grants for the Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Center Artist-in-Residency in Denmark, and at the Medalta Ceramic Center in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. Her work has been included in galleries, art centers, and museums, including the Mindy Solomon Gallery, the Society for Contemporary Crafts, the Baltimore Clayworks, the Clay Center, the Ohr O’Keefe Museum, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, James A. Michener Art Museum, the Crocker Art Museum, and The Mint Museum. She has completed public commissions for corporations, and her work is in private and public collections in the United States, New Zealand, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. She has conducted workshops for youths and adults, given public lectures, and served as a juror and curator for national and regional exhibitions. She is a professor of ceramics in the department of art and art history at UNC Charlotte.
Ken West

Ken West

Atlanta, GA

Website: tboet.com

Instagram: @the_beauty_of_everyday_thangs

Ken West is an Atlanta-based fine art photographer and digital experience designer. His photographic work is exhibited internationally and his digital design work has been deployed by cultural institutions and Fortune 50 corporations throughout the world.
He holds graduate degrees from The Ohio State University and New York University. In addition to working on his followup monograph to The Beauty of Everyday Thangs, he currently works with Netflix in teaching the art and science of Design Thinking.