Friday, February 6, 2015

Select African American Art Exhibitions: Highlights for 2015

This highlight, the first for 2015, features a few upcoming exhibitions that have recently opened or will be opening in the very near future. Presenting the exhibitions as they approach their opening dates or shortly after opening assures a freshness and currency of information for visual art enthusiasts. A number of important exhibitions that opened late last year or in January 2015, and are still being featured across the country, are accessible from the BAP Blog page entitled: Select Art Exhibitions in 2015. This page is updated on a weekly basis by either adding newly discovered exhibitions or removing those that are approaching their expiration date. Its intent is to provide comprehensive coverage of current ongoing exhibitions on view for the current quarter of the year.

Black Art Project (BAP) welcomes any information or leads that you might have relating to Black art exhibitions, particularly regional exhibitions that are not traditionally marketed on a national scale. BAP will verify the accuracy of any information submitted. Thank you for any assistance that you provide. 

Andover, Massachusetts
Ellen Gallagher, Wiglette from DeLuxe, 2004-2005, portfolio of sixty with photogravure, etching, aquatint and drypoint with lithography, screenprint, embossing, tattoo machine engraving, laser cutting and chine collé, 13"x 10½" (33 x 26.7 cm), courtesy of Two Palms, New York                         

The Addison Gallery of American Art is exhibiting Ellen Gallagher's seminal print series DeLuxe. As a complement to DeLuxe, the galleries surrounding the installation feature works from the Addison's collection that explore the techniques, ideas, and imagery found in Gallagher's work. DeLuxe takes center stage in the exhibition, Collection Intervention: Ellen Gallagher's DeLuxe, which is on view February 7 through May 17, 2015.

For DeLuxe, Gallagher transformed beauty and hair product advertisements from vintage African American magazines using  a range of print techniques, then added plasticine, paint, coconut oil, toy eyeballs, and glitter to each, further subverting and recontextualizing the images. This playful and provocative series of gridded prints offers sly and insightful commentary on modernism, mass media, fashion, identity, and race in mid-century America. 
Ellen Gallagher, Black Combs from DeLuxe, 2004-2005, portfolio of sixty with photogravure, etching, aquatint and drypoint with lithography, screenprint, embossing, tattoo machine engraving, laser cutting and chine collé, 13"x 10½" (33 x 26.7 cm), courtesy of Two Palms, New York 

Additional Event: Lecture
  • On February 22 at 2 pm, printmaker  David Lasry of Two Palms Press, and Sarah Suzuki, Associate Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, Museum of Modern Art, New York will discuss Ellen Gallagher's DeLuxe

Brooklyn, New York 
Kehinde Wiley (American, b. 1977). The Two Sisters, 2012. Oil on linen, 96"x 72" (243.8 x 182.9 cm). 
Collection of Pamela K. and William A. Royall, Jr. 
Courtesy of Sean Kelly, New York. © Kehinde Wiley. (Photo: Jason Wyche)
The Brooklyn Museum presents Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic, the first museum survey of the artist's rich and prolific career, on view February 20 through May 24, 2015.

Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic is comprised of approximately sixty objects, highlighting the range of the artist's work. The exhibition includes his early portrait paintings, inspired by the artist's observation
of street life in Harlem and set to the visual landscape of classical European portraiture, as well as his recent explorations in sculpture and stained glass. 

Kehinde Wiley (American, b. 1977).
Houden Paul-Louis, 2011. Bronze with polished stone base, 34"x 26" x 19" (86.4 x 66 x  48.3cm). 

Brooklyn Museum, Frank L. Babbott Fund and A. Augustus Healey Fund, 2012.51. 
© Kehinde Wiley. (Photo: Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum)  

Kehinde Wiley has received critical acclaim for his investigation of race, power, and the politics of representation, and his work has been lauded for giving new meaning to the social codes of gesture and dress, past and present, while challenging stereotypes about masculinity and class today, in America and around the world.

Works on view include selections from his ongoing World Stage series. Initiated in China in 2006, The World Stage examines socioeconomic conditions and culture through the everyday lives of people in India, Sri Lanka, Israel, Jamaica, and Nigeria, among other countries. Also on view will be his bronze busts, as well as his recent series An Economy of Grace, and his new stained-glass paintings.

Kehinde Wiley (American, b. 1977).
Saint Remi, 2014. Stained glass, 96"x 43½" (243.8 x 110.5cm). 

Courtesy of Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris. © Kehinde Wiley.

A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

Related Events: 
  • February 12: The one night-only conversation about the role storytelling plays in the visual arts, featuring Spike Lee, Kehinde Wiley, and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. SOLD OUT                                       
  • February 19: Members Preview and Reception  

 Chicago, Illinois
Eldzier Cortor, Environment No. V, 1969, printed 2000. Gift of Eldzier Cortor in memory of Sophia Cortor.
Eldzier Cortor Coming Home: Recent Gifts to the Art Institute will be on view February 21 through May 31, 2015 in Gallery 124 at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2012, Eldzier Cortor made an extraordinary gift to the Art Institute that included a painting, 30 prints, and several printing matrices. This exhibition presents selected works from the gift. 

Two influences can be seen at play throughout Cortor's career. As a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1936), Eldzier Cortor came under the influence of instructor Kathleen Blackshear, who led students to explore the regional arts of Africa and other non-Western cultures at the Field Museum and Oriental Institute in Chicago. At the same time, Cortor was inspired by philosopher Alain Locke's call for African American artists to reclaim their ancestral heritage as a means of strengthening and enriching their expression. Locke is referred to as the "Father of the Harlem Renaissance."

The works in this exhibition reflect an expansive part of Eldzier Cortor's

Eldzier Cortor, Dance Composition, No. 34, 1980s.
Gift of Eldzier Cortor in memory of Sophia Cortor.

career. Working with the Federal Arts Program from 1938 to 1943, Cortor focused on African American social life on Chicago's South Side. Later, living and painting among the Gullah people on the Sea Islands off South Carolina, he became fascinated by their deep cultural connection to their African roots. His experiences with the Gullah fostered his decision to depict Woman as the archetypal image of all people. Eventually, this focus evolved to combine Woman and Dance, as shown in many of the prints in this exhibition.    

In the mid-1950s, Cortor produced several  woodblock  prints with Japanese printmaker Jun'ichiro Sekino, a leading member of the Creative Prints movement. Five of those works from this period are on display, demonstrating the highly original hybird of Western and Japanese techniques that resulted from Cortor and Sekino's close collaboration. 

Lastly, on view are some of Eldzier Cortor's experimental prints made in Manhattan at Robert Blackburn's Printmaking Workshop, where he worked between 1955 and 1998.    

Related Event: 
On February 20, 2015, The Leadership Advisory Committee of the Art Institute of Chicago is honoring renowned artist and printmaker Eldzier Cortor with the 2015 Legends and Legacy Award. This award is an honor bestowed to living African American artists who, through their lifelong accomplishments and exceptional career in the visual arts have influenced the next generation of artists.   
Dallas, Texas

Melvin Edwards, Steel Life, 1985–91 Welded steel, 12½" × 18" × 17¾" (31.8 × 45.7 × 45cm) 
    Jacqueline Bradley and Clarence Otis, © 2015 Melvin Edwards / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, 
Photograph by Jeffrey Sturges, courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York; Stephen Friedman Gallery, London

Melvin Edwards: Five Decades, a retrospective for this renowned American sculptor, will be on view through May 10, 2015 at the Nasher Sculpture Center. Melvin Edwards' career spans crucial periods of upheaval and change in American culture and society, and his sculpture provides a critical bridge between modernist techniques and materials and contemporary approaches to the art object. Over the past five decades, Edwards has produced a remarkable body of work redefining
the modernist tradition of welded sculpture. 

Melvin Edwards, Mamba (Lynch Fragment), 1965, Welded steel,10½" × 9" × 9¾" (26.7 × 22.9 × 24.8 cm) 
Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York; Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, © 2015 Melvin Edwards / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph by Jeffrey Sturges, courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York; Stephen Friedman Gallery, London

Melvin Edwards: Five Decades bears witness to Edwards' pro
found commitment, from the very beginning of his career, to an art that is both abstract and deeply engaged with meaning and expression. A truly international artist well before the advent of today's global art world, Edwards has brought his experiences of other cultures and languages, particularly those of Africa, into his work, to explore the varied ways that art can forge bonds of connection and kinship. He is best known for his Lynch Fragments, an ongoing series of small-scale reliefs begun in Los Angeles in the early 1960s and born out of the social and political turmoil of the civil rights movement.

Melvin Edwards with Column of Memory, Deni-Malick Gueye 
Farm near Diannaido, Senegal, about 2005. 
Photograph by Bakary Ali Mbaye, courtesy the artist

This exhibition, Melvin Edwards: Five Decades, features a broad selection of Lynch Fragments from the 1960s, 1970s to the present, exploring memory, history, and African and African American culture. Fulfilling its mission, as the first retrospective of Edwards' work in more than twenty years, it reveals that his career has extended far beyond the Lynch Fragments. Major large-scale sculptures of the 1960s, as well as his Rockers of the 1970s are included. In addition, Five Decades features many works not seen since their creation, and in some cases never before exhibited. Also on view are sculptures Edwards has made in Senegal over the past decade, as well as a selection of maquettes, and prototypes reflecting his long career in public sculpture, and rarely exhibited works on paper.

Melvin Edwards, Ame Eghan (Rocker), 1975, Welded steel, 12½" × 19½" × 19½" (31.8 × 49.5 × 49.5 cm) 
Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York; Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. 
© 2015 Melvin Edwards / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.  
Photograph by Jeffrey Sturges, courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York; Stephen Friedman Gallery, London
 A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

Elmhurst, Illinois
Nnenna Okore, Akaraka, 2013. Newspapers, jute rope, dye and acrylic

On the Brink: New Work by NNenna Okore will be on view February 7 through May 3, 2015 at Elmhurst Art Museum. This is the first solo exhibition in the Chicago area for this internationally celebrated sculptor. 

Nnenna Okore makes striking abstract wall hangings and installations of fiber and paper that explore the delicate and cyclical nature of life. Okore's work is unabashedly handcrafted and labor-intensive. Her rhythmic methods of fraying, twisting, wrapping, weaving, sewing and dyeing are drawn from her childhood experiences in Nsukka, Nigeria
Nnenna Okore, Tomorrow Never Dies, 2914. Burlap, dye, wire and acrylic
where she sometimes watched artisans fabricating items like brooms from palm fronds or participated in daily activities such as cooking, washing, harvesting and preparing food from scratch. Okore's artistic practice embodies this understanding of and commitment to the patient process of material transformation. Whether hovering in front of a wall or suspended from the ceiling, Okore's undulating and protruding sculptures create an immersive environment that is reminiscent of bodily forms and movement. 
Nnenna Okore, Onwa Nétilu Ora, 2013. Newspapers and acrylic
Related Programs:
  • February 7: Opening Program: Conversation between Artists Nnenna Okore and Michelle Grabner, discussing their process-oriented practices and the challenge of succeeding as a female, mother, teacher and artist in the art world today. 

St. Joseph, Michigan

John Bankston, Fairy Machine, 32"x 44"
The Krasl Art Center presents Dream to Dream: The Art of John Bankston in its main galleries. The exhibition will be on view through April 26, 2015. This exhibition is the first for Bankston in his home community.

Bankston's brightly colored artworks address issues of transformation and identity. His paintings are filled with fictional figures in fantastical lands. The narratives are obscure, yet in their coloring book fashion,
John Bankston, Mysterious Magic, 2014. Oil on linen, 54" x 48"
they are inviting. Bankston states, "A coloring book page is about transformation. Through the act of applying color, the page goes from being a general image to a personal expression. I want the viewer to be aware of the 'color' or  ethnicity/identity of the characters in the work. I hope the viewer will think about a blank coloring page and the choice one can make in terms of identity when coloring the image. "
Bankston is able to use fantasy as an active way to re-imagine the world, to step outside of one's known territory and break boundaries. His paintings are not a form of idle escapism, but rather a critical platform.

Artworks for this exhibition are on loan from the Walter Maciel Gallery and Rena Bransten Projects. 

A catalogue accompanies this exhibition, Dream to Dream: The Art of John Bankston. 

John Bankston, Large Hybird 2, 2014. Acrylic on paper, 42" x 35"
 Related Event:  
  • April 9: Film Screening: The Hairy Who. Learn about The Hairy Who and make connections between them and Bankston's art on view in the galleries. $5.00 suggested donation.

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