Over There Some Place Art Exhibit

This past weekend was the opening of the group exhibition, Over There Some Place at the Houston Museum of African American Culture. The exhibition features my work along with other artists from Houston.  The theme of the show is inspired by work from pivotal Houston artist Bert Long.  Each of us were solo exhibitors in his gallery at the museum over the past years and our curator, Dominic, thought it’d be a great idea to bring everyone back.  Dominic is smart of course, it worked, and opening night was a success!

Everyone really brought it and as a result the exhibit is cohesive with art executed well.

When I arrived, the room was crowded.  I glanced at my side of the exhibit and noticed a gathering of people around the works who I could tell were perplexed by the subject matter.

I submitted four oil paintings.  One red canvas, blue, white and black. Maybe you can guess why?

My work typically centers on discovering beauty from ugly and discarded spaces.  In this case, speaking of place as alluded by the title of the exhibition I started thinking about that word in terms of class position for African-Americans and what that place is like from a mental standpoint.  I feel like we’re always grappling with our patriotism and this idea of attaining true liberation, only to concede to the notion freedom.

I used symbols of deflated balloons and odd colors to play on this conflict.

(Sidebar: I knew once I typed this it’d be easier to explain)

The whole week prior to the exhibit I was prepping myself for questions and just how I would answer any questions pertaining to my work.  They needed explaining, I can admit that, so I was ready.  Not really, but I didn’t really have a choice?

As soon as I walked over to my works, I was hit with a question.

My works are loaded so my elevator pitch kinda dragged on and on and on…

No matter how hard I tried to make the meaning of my works concise…It was impossible.

Move on to the moment Dominic, our curator asked each artist to come to the front.  I should preface this moment by stating that as a part of our participation, we had to sign a loan agreement with the museum.  That’s standard practice if you are participating in an art show/exhibition and your work is staying overnight just to make it plain.  In that agreement it says that the artist agrees to an artist talk.

Insert Nerves here.

I remember reading it over and over again, like what? Ok, this is pretty serious huh.

Well being called to the front was a pre artist talk moment.  We were introduced and opened the floor for questions.  Guess who was the only artist who was asked a question? Yes, Me.

Lord.

But I answered as gracefully and clearly as I could.  I was shaking afterward and had to keep moving around so anyone wouldn’t notice.  Anyone know what it’s like to explain complicated, conceptual ideas centered on themes of race, liberation, politics and freedom in a room filled with a mixed crowd at a black art museum? Nauseating to say the least.

Dominic called me the day after and told me I actually did well and should speak more concerning my work so there’s that.

Below are a few pics from that night.  You may notice pictures featuring artwork of Sandra Bland.  There was an exhibit in the upstairs portion of the museum that opened that same night in honor of Ms. Bland.  It is inspiring and definitely a must see.  Her family was in attendance along with State Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Melanie Lawson and others.

Pics below.

Enjoy and if you’re an artist who’s reading with questions about exhibiting professionally, comment and I’ll answer.