An Artist Reinvents Herself to Mine the Fictions of America

Posted in Articles, Arts, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-01-10 02:24Z by Steven

An Artist Reinvents Herself to Mine the Fictions of America

Hyperallergic
2017-01-09

Alicia Eler

Genevieve Gaignard makes the personal political while also creating new American mythologies.

LOS ANGELES — In the lead-up to a Trump presidency, the worst possible outcome for an America that has come so far in the past 100 years in terms of social progress and civil rights, it’s not insane to think that conservatives could take us back to a pre–Roe v. Wade era, to a time when all race-based hate crimes were labeled as basically normal. Not to mention that the environment and the economy will go to hell. This is not our country, and this is not the new normal — this is a time for refusal, a time to resist rather than to hallucinate into some sort of feeble complacency.

The election was certainly on my mind when I saw LA artist Genevieve Gaignard’s exhibition Smell the Roses at the California African American Museum. The characterizations that she creates in her work mine the intersections of race, class, and gender, portraying some of the vulnerable Americans who will be most affected by the next four years (or fewer, if Trump gets impeached like Michael Moore is predicting!).

This is Gaignard’s first solo museum show, which follows her solo exhibition Us Only last year at Shulamit Nazarin Gallery in Venice, California. Here, Gaignard continues her exploration of the space between performance and the reality of race, class, and gender through different personas or avatars, domestic spaces, and collections of Americana kitsch and knickknacks, toeing the line between high and low culture, between fiction and personal history. As the fair-skinned daughter of a black father and a white mother, her work speaks to being mixed race, discussing issues of visibility and invisibility. She mixes highbrow and lowbrow aesthetics — a major influence is John Waters, who similarly indulges in camp and kitsch. Gaignard’s arrangements of objects ranging from books and records to family photographs mix the familial and the political in a way that’s reminiscent of Rashid Johnson’s post-minimalist, cold domestic “shelves.” The difference is that in Gaignard’s work, every object emanates warmth. It’s fitting that her exhibition deals heavily with the emotional experience of loss on both a personal and political level…

Read the entire article here.

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“I am as Portuguese as I am Indian as I am black. I believe in building a mestizo identity, which means to have everything together with balance.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2016-06-20 18:36Z by Steven

“I am as Portuguese as I am Indian as I am black. I believe in building a mestizo identity, which means to have everything together with balance. When people come to Brazil, they forget their ancestral identity. They tend to. So Brazilians become Brazilians very quick. People don’t say here, “I’m Afro-this and this.” Or, “I’m Portuguese this and this.” No, they say, “I’m Brazilian.” This is a good point about us.” —Adriana Varejão

Laura C. Mallonee, “Considering Brazil’s Racial Heritage,” Hyperallergic, December 15, 2014. http://hyperallergic.com/168901/considering-brazils-racial-heritage/.

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Archibald J. Motley, Jr.’s Paintings: Modern Art Shaped by Precision, Candor, and Soul

Posted in Articles, Arts, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2014-03-12 15:47Z by Steven

Archibald J. Motley, Jr.’s Paintings: Modern Art Shaped by Precision, Candor, and Soul

Hyperallergic: Sensitive to Art & its Discontents
2014-03-09

Edward M. Gómez

A week ago, 12 Years A Slave won the Academy Award for Best Picture, the first time in the history of the Oscars that the top prize went to a film made by a black director. Recently, too, New York voters elected a white man who is married to a black woman; now the city’s “first family” vividly resembles the richly varied complexion of its multiracial, multiethnic population.

Against the backdrop of such belated examples of race-related “progress,” it is illuminating to flip through the pages of American cultural history and discover that almost a century ago, a black, classically trained modern artist, Archibald J. Motley, Jr., was using paint on canvas to address such nuanced subjects as the dignity of mixed-race persons and the skin-tone-based sensitivities that prevailed among his own people.

In Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist, an exhibition on view at Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art in Durham, North Carolina, the life story and achievements of this modernist innovator are receiving some much-deserved attention. Organized by Duke art history professor Richard J. Powell, whose book, Black Art and Culture in the 20th Century (Thames and Hudson, 1997; reissued as Black Art: A Cultural History, 2002), has become a standard text in its field, the Nasher exhibition will remain on view through May 11 before embarking on a US tour that will end in New York at the Whitney Museum of American Art late next year.

Motley (1891–1981), who is still not widely known today, was born in New Orleans and moved with his parents to Chicago when he was an infant. His father worked as a Pullman railway-carriage porter. After declining a scholarship to study architecture at Chicago’s Armour Institute, Archibald was accepted at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (where, it is interesting to note, the Armour Institute’s president paid his first-year tuition fees). Motley, whose teachers included the realist painter George Bellows, went on to produce a technically inventive body of work that assimilated various stylistic developments of early-20th-century modern art…

…Powell’s implication is that Motley’s ability to view the world around him from simultaneously different vantage points and to embrace contradictions was somehow postmodernist avant la lettre. Powell pointed out, “Motley came from a part of the country, New Orleans, where mixed-race people were not uncommon. Comprehending someone whose racial identity was mixed wasn’t so hard for him but he was color-struck; he was interested in this subject and gravitated toward people like ‘the octoroon girl,’ whom he found in an A&P supermarket and who became one of his sitters.”

Powell noted that Motley was not just keenly aware of how a person’s skin color could influence his or her place in society — and the privileges or prejudices that accompany it — but like other artists and intellectuals associated with the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s-1930s (or “New Negro Movement,” as it was known at the time), he was also interested in the multidimensional nature of black racial identity and the forms of social and cultural expression that were associated with it.

Some historians have described the light-skinned Motley, whose own ancestry was African, European and Native American, as someone who throughout his life felt unsettled about his own racial identity. As Powell sees it, the artist “instinctively understood that the issue of racial identity was complex” and therefore hard to codify, “because in his own case it was, too.” In other ways, Powell added, Motley’s life was not exactly simple or conventional, and he had to emotionally and psychologically process its vicissitudes…

Read the entire article here.

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Mixing Racial Messages

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, United States on 2013-11-02 22:23Z by Steven

Mixing Racial Messages

Hyperallergic: Sensitive to Art & its Discontents
2013-10-30

Ryan Wong

Starting with its title, the group exhibition War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art  at Seattle’s Wing Luke museum asks a provocative question: how do those seen by Americans as products of either colonial domination or subversive desire move past those categories? How do they escape, as the curators put it, an “identity defined by their parentage,” “fixed in the status of infants or children”?

Paradoxically, War Baby/Love Child begins with that parentage in order to make room for the artist to grow past it. Organized by Laura Kina and Wei Ming Dariotis, it is the most significant exhibition on the subject since Kip Fulbeck’s groundbreaking Hapa Project, which began in 2002. In the decade since, we have seen America’s multiracial population grow a third, to 9 million, not to mention the election of our first mixed race President…

Read the entire article here.

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