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Gallery Conversation » The Beyond Artist Tschabalala Self
Join artist Tschabalala Self for a conversation on her artwork in the temporary exhibition The Beyond: Georgia O’Keeffe & Contemporary Art.
Space is limited; please arrive 5 to 10 minutes early.
The Gallery Conversation is free, but a ticket to the exhibition is required: $10 (Free for members and youth ages 18 and under), available at Guest Services or https://crystalbridges.org/okeeffe
Tschabalala Self engages the overarching history of art-making by foregrounding the human body in her work. However, she refers to her painted characters as “avatars,” placing them in conversation with the digital age, even as her decidedly handmade process engages with tradition. Through technology and social media, we create virtual personas assembled from parts of ourselves we want to highlight; Self’s collage characters may be seen as tactile extensions of that principle. These images emerge from personal exploration and an investigation of identity. For this reason, the Black female body is central to most work she creates. The discordantly patterned fabrics combine into bodies that exaggerate curves and simplify features but ultimately resolve into figures with scale and presence.
Self’s characters are typically nude and occasionally in the throes of sexual passion, finding power rather than vulnerability in the exposure of the human form. In Boca, a female figure reclines into a nebulous pink space with one leg elevated, exposing her buttocks, vagina, and breasts. However, despite her totally exposed body, the woman’s expression is one of total self-confidence as she stares defiantly out at the viewer. A statement of pride and celebration of the female form, the image challenges societal norms of objectification.