Archives for posts with tag: Art

 …if you’re female, or female-presenting, or if you’re queer, or a person of color, we have made a lot of inroads in a lot of different fields, businesses, but we are in no way where we should be—where we deserve to be.”

-Lola Flash

 

Lola Flash’s retrospective at Pen + Brush, 1986 to Present, honors creative activism at its finest.

As a queer black woman, Flash, at age 59, has used the medium of photography and photographic processes to confront the dual injustice of invisibility and stereotypical portrayals of gender, sexuality, race, and age for over three decades. Her portraits, many of which were taken with a 4×5 camera, serve to capture those in her communities who are often overlooked. Beginning in 1986, Flash documented her involvement with the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) demonstrations and also employed cross-color film processing to reverse the printed photograph’s colors—further illuminating how one person’s blue-sky can be another’s fire-red horizon.

Now on view, Flash’s “Cross-Color” series presents a new world to behold, where black is white and what’s usually identifiable is obscured, exhibited alongside five portrait series, in which Flash invites viewers to see her world, her communities of individuals, in all their unique specificity. The “[sur]passing” series explores the spectrum of race; “surmise” captures fluid presentations of gender; SALT challenges ageism; LEGENDS spotlights leaders of the LGBTQ+ movement; and Incarceration, a singular self-portrait, is the inaugural piece in a series about the mass imprisonment of people of color. Together, this historic retrospective of seventy-one photographs spans a life of advocacy that Flash explains can be united by a simple message: “Look at us,” she implores, “How can you not love us?”

“A lifetime of creative activism needs honoring,” author Juno Roche, writes in the catalog accompanying the photography exhibition, and “needs acknowledgement and celebration.” Pen + Brush, the expansive gallery and organization that has been dedicated to championing women in the arts for over a century, is doing just this by kicking off 2018, another year of resistance, with the Lola Flash Retrospective, now on view through March 17, 2018.

Read our conversation at The Rail.

Innominate means not named or classified. The word has been used to describe human arteries, veins, bones, and currently an exhibition about healing. Heather Bradley’s innominate at form & concept is a body of works, including a collection of Arterial, Spinal, and Handheld clay pieces, as well as text art.

Amy Deneson Heather Bradley innominate

“innominate” by Heather Bradley at form & concept on 9.23.17

Dozens of black, white, and red pieces cover a 30-foot wall. Circular red pods, symbolizing blood droplets and reminiscent of traditional seed jars, dot. Vessels with tall necks take on the look and feel of vertebra, some with glaze scraped bare. Black-and-white porcelain pages, transcribed from her diary, tell a story of seeking. Text art spells out:

pain

wound

circulatory

Heather explains that her work is representative of whatever she is presently going through in life. When she created innominate, she was learning to be a massage therapist and recovering from a spinal injury (severe enough that she was advised to stop throwing pottery).

Amy Deneson Heather Bradley bonessacral

pressure

choose

She kept creating and learning to heal with her hands. The clay began to take the form of her spine—readjusting—and her body flowing—spinning beneath—transformative touch.

I love this expression of clay. I appreciate how physical it is–how, literally, to the core the work goes. As a potter and a writer, I empathize with the story Heather’s sharing, and this collection deeply moved me. I’m so glad to have caught the exhibition during a day trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Since, this collection has become something else. I learned during my visit that innominate would be transformed on the following Monday.

Amy Deneson Heather Bradley clay flowwrite

clay

erase

flow

 

During our conversation for The Rail about her current exhibition, Kay and I swerved onto the topic of art as activism.

Kay has used her artwork as a platform for advocacy for decades. In the current collection, Kay pointed to Trickle Down (2015) being a sharp criticism of the erroneous economic theory.

I brought up a few personal favorites, including a piece outside of the collection, “I Owe You” (2007).

“I Owe You” (2007) colored pencil on paper by Kay Rosen

 

Kay brightened and mentioned that she revived this work for a retrospective of her letterpress work for the Barbara Krakow Gallery, Kay Rosen: The Complete Letterpress Works, 1984-2017.

Originally, Kay created “I Owe You” to express resistance to the Energy Transfer Partners’ efforts to build the Dakota Access Pipeline less than one mile from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

“Standing Rock really got to me,” she said. “Mistreatment of Native Americans goes back so far, and it is ongoing with other tribes.”

We marveled at the coincidence that IOU is in the middle of Sioux.

“Right in the heart of the word!” Kay exclaimed. “It is so amazing to me when this happens,” she continued. “The message is embedded in the name.”

‘“IOU’ is a found textual treasure,” she noted in the work’s description for her letterpress exhibition, which “required minor adjustments to color to address major historical wrongs.”

The message of the piece, Kay wrote was “both a promise and an apology to that tribe, and by extension, to the many other indigenous peoples whose rights and treaties have been trampled over the years.”

“I would love to do it large, billboard-size,” she told me, her hands outstretched. “This is a work that I would still like to get out in the world, as a message,” Kay said.

Me too.

 

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