Diedrick Brackens: ark of bulrushes

 Mint Museum Randolph
July 16-December 11, 2022

Brackens2

Introduction:

ark of bulrushes presents a new series by Los Angeles-based artist Diedrick Brackens including large-scale weavings and premiering the artist’s first woven sculptures. Known for making colorful textiles about African American and queer histories, Brackens has developed a process of combining the tactility of yarn with the ethos of storytelling. For this exhibition, the artworks tell timeless narratives about emancipation and remediation through pattern, body, and the power of craft.

Brackens’ deeply colored weavings pull imagery from 19th century Freedom Quilts—used to communicate with enslaved people traveling along the Underground Railroad—and star constellations that have been used to navigate the external world and internal psyche for thousands of years. The central focus of Brackens’ artwork always returns to the Black body represented in form or implied in absence. Intertwined with the patterns are dynamic human figures mimicking animals associated with constellations. This positioning aligns the body within the cosmic proportions of the universe, inferring empowerment of the individual and of a people.

The sculptural basket boats in this exhibition take different forms that reference the human body in communion with nature. The ark is Brackens’ sculptural prototype of a boat that he hopes to float on the Mississippi River. Made with enough room for a passenger to sit upright or lie down, the body and boat can float and bob down the river as one. The floating of reed basket boats is significant in legends of deliverance, including the biblical story of the exodus of the Israelites where an “ark of bulrushes” carried the infant Moses up the Nile River. Taking its name from this story, ark of bulrushes gestures to craft itself as a form of mythology—the passing on of tradition, technique, and narrative. Brackens practices textile craft with unique vision and perspective, spinning new definitions of what it means to live today.

Organized by Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and curated by Lauren R. O’Connell, curator of contemporary art. Support provided by The S. Rex and Joan Lewis Foundation and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.