17 Midwestern Artists Offer Insight into Black Abstraction Art in SooVAC Exhibit
Sometimes an artist finds the community, but other times the community finds the artist.
In the case of Twin Cities-based artist/curator Gregory J. Rose, he wanted to find other artists working in Black Abstraction, so he put out an open call for an exhibition that would focus on exactly that.
“Since the uprising and George Floyd, art has been at the forefront of the past, of healing, of communication and of community,” Rose said. “I wanted to know who my peers were because I’ve lived here since 2001.”
His responses were collected in the group exhibition “Change Is God – Take Root Among the Stars: Black Abstraction in the Midwest,” currently on view at the Soo Visual Arts Center in Minneapolis. Seventeen artists who call the Midwest home — including one in Oklahoma who has advocated for that state as part of the region — make up the mix of two- and three-dimensional work in this exhibit, which includes painting, installation , quilting, video and sculpture.
Abstract art is more like music in the sense of looking and feeling rather than immediately recognizing faces and places and then assigning meaning. In a 2020 academic study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers found that abstract art can help people understand things more conceptually than realistically, evoking “distant” feelings. .
Eight of the performing artists have made the Twin Cities their home. Stephanie A. Lindquist’s four abstract photographs and lightboxes, arranged on the floor like a reproductive organism, are actually representations of mold that grows from Minnesota to West Africa.
Sarah White’s dynamic installation is a suspended white canvas with electromagnetic lines scribbled across it and a faint video projection of a black woman tying a rope around herself and then lying on the floor.
He was inspired by “what it’s like to have my hands on a body and feel their grief and think about how the heart has electromagnetic waves that go out 3 meters in every direction,” White said in a video on the SooVac YouTube channel.
Also on display is recent Guggenheim Fellow Ta-coumba T. Aiken, who recently closed a solo exhibition at the Dreamsong Gallery in northeast Minneapolis. Aiken, whose circular acrylic-on-canvas works “Time to Face It! Tell the truth” and “KEYes on the Prize” are on display, noted how abstraction is “not a new thing for African-American artists, to call ourselves abstract black artists.” He mentioned Alma Thomas, whose work is in the Whitney Museum of American Art, as one of the first black abstract artists.
“Then there are people like Norman Lewis, who was an abstract artist at the same time as Jackson Pollack, but art critics wouldn’t talk about him, probably because he was black,” Aiken said. “When I discovered his work, it was phenomenal.”
Part of Rose’s desire for the show was to move the conversation around black abstraction beyond the more well-known Twin Cities artists who worked there, such as Aiken, Seitu Jones and Clarence Morgan, with whom he studied. in the Department of Art at the University of Minnesota. .
Artist Alex Beaumont began his work around a personal project exploring his Jamaican nature.
“I’ve felt a bit tenuous or disconnected at times that I haven’t had a deeper relationship with the island and certain members of my family,” Beaumont said.
“In the work, I count with these feelings of loss and I feel this materially in the withdrawal of the threads of the work – this permeability of the work with the cut canvas – but I also claim my experience embodied in my Jamaican. .”
She uses fabric made from the sorrel plant. Her textile pieces also visually reference the iron work on her family’s home in Mandeville, Jamaica.
Beaumont grew up in South Carolina, but her father is from Jamaica and her mother is of German descent. She likens the way Jamaican culture spread to the breath of a dandelion’s seeds.
“It gave me a deep sense of comfort that, you know, the things that I feel and experience within the framework of [a Jamaican] The Diaspora really has this connective tissue with the other people in that Diaspora,” she said. “It was a great experience to be part of this show.”
Change is God – Take Root Among the Stars: Dark Abstraction in the Midwest
When: Ends Sat., July 30, with a reception and panel discussion from 5-8 p.m.
Where: Soo Visual Arts Center, 2909 Bryant Ave. S., #101, Deputies.
Hours: 1pm-6pm Wed-Fri, 11am-5pm Sat-Sun
Information: 612-871-2263 or soovac.org.