BlkMrktClt – It Takes a Village
On view September 17-October 31
Level 5 at Mint Museum Uptown
There’s no place quite like a bodega. BlkMrktClt has created Bodega, an artistic homage to that stalwart store that always has what you need— cigarettes, soda, ant traps, detergent — at any time of day. The installation features everything from hoops and cars to shopping lists scrawled on the wall. So put on your best kicks, bring your dice, and experience it before it’s gone.
Love Bolt is the generous presenting sponsor of It Takes a Village: Charlotte’s Artist Collective Take-Over, and extension of the exhibition It Takes a Village. Love Bolt is an organization devoted to dismantling systemic racism in the U.S. in one generation through awareness-building and education.
It Takes a Village is a celebration of the vibrant, grassroots art happening throughout Charlotte. For this exhibition The Mint Museum is collaborating with three of Charlotte’s innovative art collectives: BlkMrktClt, Brand the Moth, and Goodyear Arts. The works of art in the exhibition are done by more than 25 collective members and recognizes local artistic talent across a broad cross section of demographics—economic, racial, ethnic, age, and education.
BlkMrktClt is a safe creative space for artists of color based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
We are Black people who love all things Black culture. The good, the bad and the dirty South.
We needed a space that would reflect how we see ourselves versus how we should be and have been seen by traditional arts organizations and institutions. We created a space that has become a central meeting point for other artists of color who believe in their culture the same way we believe in ours. By doing this, we have opened the doors of possibility for many local residents of color to explore and transform their creative pursuits into better and more fulfilling careers. In return, BlkMrktClt is now more than an arts studio, we are our own collective community. We support our community by hosting a variety of exhibitions and workshops. Our studio space and gallery give beginning artists a place to begin their professional arts careers. Our workshops can range from developing your photography skills to conversations about accountability and mental health in the Black community.
As a collective, we have moved Black culture twice, locally and nationally. Take a moment to reflect on DuragFest, an alternative Juneteenth celebration because celebrating all aspects of Blackness in the age of social justice and police brutality was an act of self-love. It went viral. Unassumingly, durags went on the rise in American Black culture and as a result, more Black people started looking inward toward our culture again. Since then, more acts of anti-Blackness have been seen repeatedly on social media with different names for the same Black bodies. Instead of reacting as a studio, collective and community, we expressed ourselves differently and took on collaboration as a revolutionary act by creating the first individualized Black Lives Matter mural with local arts collective, Brand the Moth, and local artists of color. It also went viral but this time, internationally. Black culture on a national scale was moved again and the individuality of the Black Lives Matter mural was repeated across the US in June 2020.
We are looking inward too, but not to ourselves, to our city, Charlotte. We aim to continue to highlight collaboration over competition and are welcoming our neighbors into our very Black AF world. We are beginning to collaborate with local galleries like Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art and institutions such as The Mint Museum, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts & Culture and the McColl Center for Art and Innovation. We know everything in the world can’t be fixed or made pretty overnight because the world doesn’t see us the way we see us. We do know that we can do something better in the world and make all things for us and by us, but we aren’t stupid nor arrogant. We’re going to need our neighbors, too. Just know this, it’s really okay to stop by and say hello. We know we’re Black and that might be a little “intimidating” as many have preferred to share. Just start by saying “hello.”
We’ll holler black at you.
– iamkingcarla, BlkMrktClt Collective
BlkMrktClt Artists included in It Takes A Village
Carla Aaron-Lopez is an artist-educator from Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2009, she graduated with a MFA in photography, and earned her master’s of art in printmaking in 2012. In 2010, she began her teaching career at Fort Valley State University as an adjunct professor, and has been a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools arts educator since 2014. She creates multidisciplinary images and text that is centered around celebrating American Black culture from the dirty South, women of color as cosmic super beings, and the natural s’language of the American Negro. She has experience in various creative fields from photojournalism to podcasting and arts exhibitions.
Dammit Wesley, aka Kim Jong Trill, aka Paint Papi Ortiz, aka D.I.Y Daddy, formally known as The Great Value Martha Stewart, is a creative influencer, a multidisciplinary artist, and an experienced educator. Using pop culture as his pen and the internet as his canvas, Dammit Wesley creates works that provide context, insight and commentary on the Black experience, specifically through the lens of the media and popular culture. A character of his own creation he assumes the role of master teacher “The Black Bob Ross,” the educator of all negro-sauced aesthetics; visual, sonic, and otherwise.
Will Jenkins is a digital content creator specializing in film and photography. He runs local art gallery and studio BLKMRKTCLT which caters to local minority artists through shows, studio space, and workshops. Being a black man in the South he grew up surrounded by the concepts and culture we developed uniquely in the south from its warm colors to the clothes we wear and our inherited symbols of status. He’s currently bringing those looks, colors, and mannerisms to life for others to view as a window into his world and connecting these black stories together to find our cultural connections.