Jul 15, 2020 Art & Collection Exhibitions In his paintings, video installations, assemblage works, sculptures, and performances, Paul Stephen Benjamin explores the questions, “What is the color black?” and “If the color black had a sound, what would it sound like?” In Summer Breeze (2018), Benjamin combines clips of the singers Billie Holiday and Jill Scott singing part of Holiday’s iconic 1939 song “Strange Fruit,” a haunting tune about lynching and racism in the United States. This soundtrack accompanies images that Benjamin has sourced from the internet, including footage of a little girl on a swing. Frank A. Blazquez, Carlos, Albuquerque, NM (2018) Frank A. Blazquez, Mexican-American, born 1989, Carlos, Albuquerque, NM, 2018, chromogenic print, 40 × 55 1/2 in. (101.6 × 141 cm), framed: 44 3/4 in. × 58 3/4 in. × 1 in., on loan from the artist, Frank A. Blazquez. Frank Blazquez turns his camera on everyday New Mexicans, including those dealing with the impact of drug abuse, incarceration, or both and those who identify along the Latino/a/x spectrum. Blazquez’s portraiture helps eliminate separations between the sphere of Southwest Latina/o and traditional American photography. JooYoung Choi, Time for You and Joy to Get Acquainted JooYoung Choi, Time for You and Joy to Get Acquainted, 2017, Wooden armature, fabric, polyfoam, 108 x 115 x 85 in., Courtesy of Nancy Littlejohn Fine Art. Photo by Ironside Photography / Stephen Ironside. JooYoung Choi sets this work on, “Enough Room for Everyone Island,” an imaginary island that is a refuge for brontosauruses when scientists doubt their existence. In Choi’s soft sculpture, flowers encircle the dinosaur and a cast of colorful characters. Drawing on her own childhood worries about fitting in, Choi’s works offer safe spaces in a sometimes unwelcoming world. Check out our interview with JooYoung Choi about this work: Alex Bradley Cohen, Chanel Thomas, 2018 The Chicago-based painter Alex Bradley Cohen uses his family and friends as subjects and paints them in bright backgrounds and scenery, offering glimpses inside their homes and interior lives. He likes to capture them in mid-conversation, either with others of himself, while they’re in the midst of everyday activities including having drinks and playing games. While Chanel Thomas was not in State of the Art 2020, Cohen was one of the featured artists in the exhibition. Carla Edwards, Bonfire (2017) Carla Edwards, Bonfire, 2017, American flags, bleach, and nylon dye, 124 × 112 in. (315 × 284.5 cm), courtesy of Carla Edwards. Photo by Ironside Photography / Stephen Ironside. Carla Edwards created Bonfire to mark the fear and anxiety she felt around the 2016 election cycle. For this fiery-colored quilted work, Edwards manipulated strips taken from American flags and reworked them to create a new symbol of American individuality. Peter Everett, Lych (2018) Peter Everett, Lych, 2018, oil on canvas, 86 in. × 69 5/8 in. × 1 5/8 in. (218.4 × 176.8 × 4.1 cm), courtesy of the artist. Peter Everett creates works that explore the immediate visual power of abstract forms. Much of Everett’s inspiration ties back to painting. He says, “Paint is very tactile and physical—I love how it moves, looks, and smells. While I frequently use a range of materials—including video, computer-based systems, and sculptural forms—all of my work is grounded in the physicality, history, and language of painting.” Elisa Harkins, Wampum (2019) Elisa Harkins, Wampum, 2019, Video, TRT 6:23, Courtesy of Elisa Harkins. Elisa Harkins sings in both English and Cherokee. For Wampum, she blends Indigenous music from the 1800s, traditional Indigenous dance, and electronic dance music to create something uniquely her own. Harkins wears a black and gold tear dress, a traditional garment worn by Cherokee women. L. Kasimu Harris, Come Tuesday (Sportsman’s Corner) (2018), “Where Ya People From?” (Verret’s Lounge) (2018), The Regulars (Verret’s Lounge) (2018) L. Kasimu Harris, Come Tuesday (Sportsman’s Corner), 2018, archival pigment print, 24 × 36 in. (61 × 91.4 cm), framed: 25 1/4 × 37 in., courtesy of L. Kasimu Harris. L. Kasimu Harris, Come Tuesday (Sportsman’s Corner), 2018, archival pigment print, 24 × 36 in. (61 × 91.4 cm), framed: 25 1/4 × 37 in.; “Where Ya People From?” (Verret’s Lounge), 2018, archival pigment print, 24 × 36 in. (61 × 91.4 cm), framed: 25 1/4 × 37 in., courtesy of L. Kasimu Harris. L. Kasimu Harris, The Regulars (Verret’s Lounge), 2018, archival pigment print, 24 × 36 in. (61 × 91.4 cm), framed: 25 1/4 × 37 in., courtesy of L. Kasimu Harris. On St. Bernard Ave. in New Orleans, six lounges served a predominantly black neighborhood for generations. These bars become home to vibrant arts and culture traditions such as Black Masking Indians and Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs. The lounges became a safe space where patrons could buy affordable drinks, eat, listen to music, and socialize. Then Hurricane Katrina came in 2005, displacing the community. As Harris notes, “now half of those bars are white-owned, with most offering little to no reference to the previous establishment—their histories are gone. What happens to the culture when it’s displaced?” Mari Hernandez, Colonizer (2017) Mari Hernandez, Colonizer, 2017, inkjet print on photo rag, 29 × 25 × 2 in. (73.7 × 63.5 × 5.1 cm), courtesy of the artist. Drawing on her Chicana heritage and the history of her native Texas, Hernandez assumes the guise of European colonists whose portraits don’t fully reveal the traditions of colonization associated with historical artworks. Letitia Huckaby, Sugarland (2017), All Things Are Possible (2017), Washington Old Homestead (2017) Letitia Huckaby, born 1972, Sugarland, 2017, pigment print on fabric with vintage embroidery hoop, 18 × 27 1/2 in. (45.7 × 69.9 cm); All Things Are Possible, 2017, pigment print on fabric with vintage embroidery hoop, 24 × 22 1/2 in. (61 × 57.2 cm); Washington Old Homestead, 2017, pigment print on fabric with vintage embroidery hoop, 21 × 12 1/2 in. (53.3 × 31.8 cm), courtesy of the artist and Liliana Bloch Gallery. In these works, Letitia Huckaby reflects on broken promises, ponders what could have been, and considers how histories get passed down from generation to generation. The images featured in these vintage embroidery hoops offer snapshots into places and landscapes central to Huckaby’s own life, as well the histories of many other African Americans with roots in Southern soil. Ronald Jackson, In a Day, She Became The Master of Her House (2019) Ronald Jackson, In a Day, She Became The Master of Her House, 2019, oil on canvas, 65 in. × 55 in. × 1 3/4 in. (165.1 × 139.7 × 4.4 cm), courtesy of Ronald Jackson. According to Jackson, “Painting faces (or people) is a practice that allows me to explore the complexities of humanity. Every person has a story. Every face archives experiences that are psychologically and emotionally embedded… but I am not a portrait painter. I seek to facilitate an engagement between my work and the viewer – with the viewer gazing upon an image… studying the face of another… speculating of their story… and identifying with their humanity.” Suchitra Mattai, Exodus (2019) Suchitra Mattai, born 1973, Exodus, 2019, vintage saris from India; Sharjah; and artist’s Indo-Guyanese family; and rope net, 15 × 40 ft., courtesy of K Contemporary Art and the artist. Suchitra Mattai weaves vintage Indian saris from her own family with saris from the United Arab Emirates and India. For Mattai, Exodus “connects diasporic communities of South Asians across the globe, giving voice to generations of women while also probing questions of displacement resulting from European colonization. Focusing on this period is both a means of tracing my family’s history in Guyana and of fostering discussion around contemporary issues surrounding labor and gender.” Hannah McBroom, The Dinner Party (2019) Hannah McBroom, The Dinner Party, 2019, oil on canvas, 36 × 31 1/2 in. (91.4 × 80 cm), framed: 37 1/4 in. × 32 3/4 in. × 2 in., courtesy of Hannah McBroom. The scene, which Hannah McBroom experienced at a recent family wedding, illustrates the familiar, uncomfortable tension felt in social settings when her gender identity becomes something needing explanation. Much of McBroom’s practice centers around belonging—understanding how her body and those of other transgender people fit into a predominantly gender normative culture. Art Miller, AT&T Cellular Tower, First Church of the Nazarene, Springdale, Arkansas (2019) Art Miller, AT&T Cellular Tower, First Church of the Nazarene, Springdale, Arkansas, 2019, Archival inkjet print mounted on archival board, 45 × 65 × 2 1/8 in., Courtesy of the artist and Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art. This image, taken in Springdale, Arkansas, reveals a recent cultural phenomenon of cellular towers camouflaged by religious architecture. Practically undetectable by the average passerby, cellular companies are leasing land and steeples from churches to meet the increased demand for comprehensive coverage across the United States. A keen observer of contemporary life, Art Miller aims to question the complex relationship between commerce and religion. Jiha Moon, Mujigaeyolo (2018) Jiha Moon, Mujigaeyolo, 2018, 30 x 30 in., Ink and acrylic on Hanji paper mounted on canvas, Courtesy of the artist and Mindy Solomon Gallery. In her work, Jiha Moon brings together a variety of images and symbols to explore the global movements of people and their cultures. Moon references both Eastern and Western art histories and elements of popular culture, mixing traditional artmaking materials like handmade Hanji paper with everyday items such as nail decals and hair extensions. Kris Pierce, Free Food (2018) Kris Pierce, Free Food, 2018, 2-channel HD video, Duration: 4 minutes, 35 seconds, courtesy of the artist. Image by Ben Davis, Artnet. Kris Pierce explores the intersection of our physical and virtual identities, thinking specifically about how and where these two worlds merge. Ideas about life, death, love, status, authenticity, power—the cornerstones of human experience—shift when we set aside face-to-face experience and enter the digital realm. Pierce plays with these themes through a range of digital media, including this engaging two-channel video. Tim Portlock, Escape (2017) Tim Portlock, Escape, 2017, archival pigment print, 55 × 72 in. (139.7 × 182.9 cm), courtesy of Locks Gallery. Tim Portlock creates an unsettling fusion of fictional city planning—rendered through 3D gaming technology—and real-life urban decay, as depicted through photography. We view the landscapes from an elevated perspective, as if floating amid the abandoned ships and drifting balloons. Appearing desolate and at times post-apocalyptic, Portlock’s imagined cityscapes lay in a state of ruin, yet take inspiration from the actual environment found just outside his door. Diego Rodriguez-Warner, The Fountain (2019) Diego Rodriguez-Warner, born 1986, The Fountain, 2019, latex paint, acrylic paint, spray paint, graphite and hand-carved relief on panel, 96 in. × 16ft. × 3 in. (243.8 × 487.7 × 7.6 cm), courtesy of the artist. Photo by Ironside Photography / Stephen Ironside. With this new work, Diego Rodriguez-Warner says he set out to make a painting that was “beautiful, and ominous, and inspiring, that was an amalgam of disparate parts pulling and pushing against each other, a high energy painting that I can try to believe in.” Along with the addition of some of his own drawings, the artist includes fragments of historical artworks, including references to Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and sixteenth-century engravings of witch burnings. George Sanchez-Calderon, Americana (2014/2020) George Sanchez-Calderon, Americana, 2014/2020, polished stainless steel, 84 × 264 x 84 in., courtesy of the artist. Image by Ben Davis, Artnet. The word “Americana” is a reference to a broad category of objects and symbols that are inherently “American,” including Coca-Cola, road trips, blues music, Ford cars, and the idea of the American Dream. The reflective surface of these cut-metal letters reflects not only the viewer, but the landscape beyond to indicate how the idea of America expands beyond the confines of the United States, suggesting that “Pan American culture is without borders.” Jordan Seaberry, Blueberry (The Right to Self) (2019) Jordan Seaberry, Blueberry (The Right to Self), 2019, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 50 in. × 82 in. × 1/4 in. (127 × 208.3 × 0.6 cm), courtesy of the artist and Steven Zevitas Gallery. Blueberry (The Right to Self) presents a kaleidoscopic exploration of family histories, memories, and tangled relationships. The ghostly figures seated on the sofa represent Seaberry and his father, who endured a tumultuous relationship that he seeks to put to rest. The more sharply rendered woman on the right bears the future, literally—it depicts Seaberry’s pregnant sister. Karen Seapker, Tent Mama (2019) Karen Seapker, Tent Mama, 2019, oil on canvas, 60 in. × 48 in. × 1 1/2 in. (152.4 × 121.9 × 3.8 cm), courtesy of Zeitgeist Gallery. Seapker’s paintings serve as a meditation on her journey as a mother and the uncertainty that comes with raising children in today’s complicated world. Tent Mama portrays an abstracted maternal figure using her body to create a shelter for the child who looks out at us, a reminder that they will inherit the world we leave behind. Anthony Sonnenberg, Campagna Vase (Drama Kween) (2018) Anthony Sonnenberg, Campagna Vase (Drama Kween), 2018, porcelain over stoneware and found porcelain tchotchkes, and unglazed color, 32 in. × 9 1/2 in. × 9 1/2 in. (81.3 × 24.1 × 24.1 cm), courtesy of Anthony Sonnenberg. This work appears to be in a state of decay. Sonnenberg inserts a number of symbols in his work, and his particular use of silk flowers references his queer identity while also serving as a personal ‘memento mori,’ or artistic symbol for the inevitability of death. For the artist, the work serves to remind him of the shortness of life, and helps him forget his fear of death. Damian Stamer, Horry County 6 (2018) Damian Stamer, born 1982, Horry County 6, 2018, oil on panel, 72 × 95 × 4 in. (182.9 × 241.3 × 10.2 cm), courtesy of the artist and SOCO Gallery. This image depicts an abandoned and deteriorating barn in Horry County—a historic agricultural community in South Carolina—located a few hours south of Damian Stamer’s home. Stamer drew inspiration from old photographs and his own memory in painting this scene. He used printmaking techniques to produce a kaleidoscope effect through the layering of cracked lines and pops of brilliant color. The pitched ceiling draws the eye to the top of the canvas, creating an illusion of expansiveness, while the softly indistinct imagery echoes nostalgic memories of a simpler time. Su Su, Darwin (2018) Su Su, Darwin, 2018, oil on canvas, 34 × 50 × 2 in. (86.4 × 127 × 5.1 cm), courtesy of the artist. Offering a surreal twist to her images, Su Su draws from her own experience of being born in China under the one-child policy and later relocating to the United States. Her navigating of the subtle and sometimes dramatic differences between the two cultures finds expression in her playful and enigmatic artworks. Stacy Lynn Waddell, Untitled (Dot and Leon 1972), 2019 Stacy Lynn Waddell, born 1966, Untitled (Dot and Leon 1972), 2019, composition gold leaf on canvas, 60 in. × 48 in. × 1 1/2 in. (152.4 × 121.9 × 3.8 cm), courtesy of the artist. Photo by Ironside Photography / Stephen Ironside. Stacy Lynn Waddell’s work explores the question: “Can the human brain perceive race once the eye no longer sees skin color?” Her monochromatic gold portraits recall vintage sepia photographs in both color and composition, and appear frozen in time. Larry Walker, Tweet, Tweet…Look Who’s Here…or Aliens, Wall Spirits and Other Manifestations (2017) Larry Walker, Tweet, Tweet…Look Who’s Here…or Aliens, Wall Spirits and Other Manifestations, 2017, diptych: Acrylic and various material on panel, 62 × 98 × 3 in., courtesy of the artist and Mason Fine Art Gallery. Photo by Ironside Photography / Stephen Ironside. For over six decades, Larry Walker has created paintings, drawings, collages, and mixed media works intended to spark conversations about popular culture and current events. Here Walker pairs his signature shadowy figures he calls “wall spirits” with images of politicians, a Mars Attacks movie poster, found signs, newspaper, and magazine pages to raise questions about current US immigration policy and who is and is not allowed in the United States. Didier William, Ou ap tonbe, men m ap kenbe ou (2018) Didier William, Ou ap tonbe, men m ap kenbe ou, 2018, ink, wood carving and collage on panel, 64 × 90 × 2 in. (162.6 × 228.6 × 5.1 cm), courtesy of James Fuentes, New York. The figures in this painting are cloaked by a repeating pattern of eyes looking out at us. Didier William draws inspiration for his work “from multiple different locations, including the intersecting systems of gender and race and pop culture.” His titles are often written in Haitian Kreyòl (Creole) and include Haitian pop-culture references like the music group Boukan Ginen.