Lucy Lacoste Gallery opens "Empowering Voices: Artist of Color"

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Lucy Lacoste Gallery opens "Empowering Voices: Artist of Color"
Sydnie Jimenez, Discontented Degenerates Group.

CONCORD, MASS.- Lucy Lacoste Gallery announces the group exhibition, Empowering Voices: Artist of Color, on view through October 10th, 2020. This exhibition brings together artists of color, four of whom are represented by LLG and an additional four young, under-represented artists, each invited by a represented artist. This exhibition is in response to the racial injustices that, while always present, have been brought to wider awareness by the protests after George Floyd’s death. As a gallery, we want to expand our platform to include greater diversity in artists and content to more fully represent this new reality. Art is a reflection of culture and history; thus, we want to show the art of those with lived experiences who are leading the way to human rights for all.

Represented Artists:

Natalia Arbelaez is a Colombian-American artist, born in Miami to immigrant parents. She received her MFA from Ohio State University and recently was Artist in Residence at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC where she continued her research of historical and influential women ceramists of color.

“My practice has centered around research into my family ancestry. Research of my inherited history and my sub-culture in ceramics responds to a lacking of Latinx voices in the context of ceramic history and ceramic classes. I didn’t see myself or my voice dictating where or what the ceramics field needed. As I have been making work about the need for people like myself and my familial histories to be preserved and included in history, I have begun to think about my community in the field of ceramics. Women of color, especially brown and black women, are seldom included in history, collections, and positions in higher education. Using my research, voice, and art to bring attention to these disparities and at the same time adding these narratives to our collective is imperative.”

Ashwini Bhat is an innovative, international artist from India drawn to abstract themes such as human relatedness, regardless of race. Bhat earned her master’s degree in literature from Bangalore University. She studied classical dance and traveled as a professional dancer. She studied ceramics with Ray Meeker at Golden Bridge Pottery and is known for her collaborations with other artists and writers.

“During shelter-in-place, I turned both inward and toward the world. This has been an intense time for self-reflection, for questioning my own identity as well as my identification with others and with nature, the world. These new sculptures reveal that focus on the alliance of inscapes and landscapes.”

Paul S. Briggs, originally from New York State, earned an MFA from Massachusetts College of Art, an MSED from Alfred University and a PhD in Art Education from Penn State. Long Interested in matters of race and spirituality, he is currently a professor of Art Education at Mass ART.

“This work is neither gendered nor is it about race, it does not respect person. Formally, it is using metaphor and metonymy. To be doubled up inside, tied in knots, feeling tight all over, is how many describe the everyday tension of existence in a society seized by pandemic and strivings to wake up from history and create a more just and loving society, the beloved community. The wounded, broken, pierced and knotted vessels have a presence of dignity and a certitude.”

Renata Cassiano-Alvarez was born in Mexico and earned her MFA at University of Mexico She was the long-time assistant of two renowned international artists: Nina Hole of Denmark and Gustavo Perez from Mexico. Currently she is Artist in Residence and teaching at the University of Arkansas.

“As a bi-cultural artist (Mexico/Italy), I have been preoccupied with the effects language has on the body and how to translate this phenomenon to process. This delving has led me to seek the transformation of the historical role ceramic materials have in the ceramic process. When this role is changed, it is possible realize a physical metamorphosis of the elements. At the center, I am teaching ceramic glaze a new language. A material that historically has been relegated to surface decoration is able to become the structure of the sculpture itself by ways of casting. The result is a material with a new sentience, an outcome that does not resemble glaze as we traditionally know it, but rather a new vision with an expanded concept of possibility. My sculptures reference the body and its contents. And seek for giving the transformation itself a physicality. In a way, I act as an archeologist to my own practice. I cut, excavate and carve the sculptures until I find what they are trying to tell me. Although the tactile nature of clay was what first drew me to it, it is its capability of transformation and the demand of time, labor and attention the process requires, that have made me surrender to it. Clay speaks many languages and keeps infinite possibilities. What I look for is for my sculptures to embody, become icons of freedom and force, endless curiosity and risk taking

Invited Artist:

Gerald Brown is a Chicago Southside native and earned her BFA in Sculpture and Ceramics at Syracuse University. She is a co-founder of the Clay Siblings’ Project, a non-profit initiative providing free ceramic workshops around the country.

“The sacred objects primary spiritual function is to demarcate space for ancestral as well as descendants of Strange Fruit, an expansive lineage of African Diasporic people in America. The forms possess the power to communicate ancestral blessings such as energy, memory, forgiveness and love, providing an opportunity for multi-layered healing personally as well as environmentally. These abstract portraits of Strange Fruit are a commemoration of a range of subjects and their unique, complicated behaviors developed through resisting Anti-Blackness.

The spiritual function of the sacred objects is activated through the choice of material and approach to construction. Action and touch carry energy, while clay records movement and memory. The way the marks are made deeply affect the commemoration as well as the overall spiritual tactility function. The Fruits are primarily hand-built because this method provides a careful, diligent approach to constructing ideals about Blackness. Pinching has a meditative, warm loving nature that slowly builds up the image of the subject.”

Aaron Caldwell is from Fresno, California. Currently he is in the MS in Art Education graduate program at Illinois State University and on the board of Studio Potter.

“As an artist, I am interested in looking at Black and queer identity with a lens of interiority. My work is primarily inspired by Black folks’ history with moisturizing products for the hair and body, and my being conditioned to hold value in my hair, skin color and the necessary tools for care. Being considered physically ashy (white and dry skin) or socially ashy (wack, lame, ignorant) are lingo among Black folk. As a community, so I create objects that concretely elevate and highlight this relationship unique to Black culture. I also employ zoomorphic forms inspired by folktales and west and central African sculpture. The buffalo represents masculinity and manhood, the sheep represents queerness and the rabbit represents Blackness. My art narrates how I engage with my Blackness and queerness in private, through culture, and how these identities inform how I engage with the world.” result, products like lotion or coconut oil have become a staple in the Black

Anthony Kascak received his MFA in Studio Art at the University of Arkansas. He has exhibited in the US and abroad, in locations such as Germany, China and South Korea.

“The work that I am exhibiting in Empowering Voices includes two wall pieces from my MFA thesis show, as well as another wall piece that I made shortly after. I am interested in exploring how I can incorporate photography into my ceramics practice; I have done this directly through photographic decals as well as with physical touch and visual perception through ceramic frames and fragments. These ceramic frames contain images and actions: fingerprints preserved and highlighted with glaze, photographic ceramic decals of my body, as well as adorned shards and cracks of ceramic pieces that highlight the fragility of the ceramic process and specific details of photographs. The physical touch involved in the ceramic process not only emphasizes the marks made to reference the literal act of touching, but also the vulnerability and potential of the material itself. The third piece I have included in the exhibition is a wall piece that mimics the silhouette of my fingerprint. The enlarged silhouette is adorned with glazed indentations from my fingers that create movement, similar to brushstrokes in a painting, within the interior space.”

Sydnie Jimenez was born in Orlando, Florida and spent much of her childhood in north Georgia. She grew up with the white side of her family while presenting as a non-white person, only reuniting with the Dominican side of her family in adolescence. Jimenez recently completed a bachelor’s degree at the Art Institute of Chicago.

“These figures were made during the peak of quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic at the same time as protests by black and brown youth that were sparked by police brutality and the deaths of black people by police including the murder of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and George Floyd to name a few. These figures are referencing protestors, protest, and a feeling of discontent, disorientation, and unease left in the wake of these deaths whose murderers were not brought to justice.”

As stated by Lucy Lacoste, the founding director of the gallery “the show came about after the death of George Floyd which was a catalyst of change for so many of us. It has been a satisfying process to steer the gallery toward greater diversity.”

Empowering Voices is on view through October 12, 2020.

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