MAYA FREELON ASANTE & GA GARDNER’s artwork returns from 2.5 year loan to Art in Embassies

6 Jun

United States Embassy, Kingston, Jamaica

ART in Embassies Exhibition

This exhibition includes art by established and mid-career African American and Caribbean American artists. Works by masters of the first generation – notably Lois Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Norman Lewis, and Sam Gilliam – offer a visual representation of the foundations of African American Art. Contemporary works by Lorna Simpson, GA Gardner, Maya Freelon Asante, Ruben Ubiera, and Kehinde Wiley illustrate influences from their predecessors and more recent developments.

Just as the Harlem Renaissance was taking shape in 1923, Lois Mailou Jones had her first solo exhibition in New York City. By the 1930’s her paintings, which incorporated African forms, helped to define the movement. Norman Lewis and Jacob Lawrence both grew up in Harlem, New York, during the Harlem Renaissance and into the Great Depression. The American government’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) created the Federal Art Project (FAP), which in 1938 opened the Harlem Community Art Center. Lewis and Lawrence both took classes at the center and later worked for the WPA. While with the WPA, Lewis worked alongside Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, who would later be part of the abstract expressionist group. During this period Lewis’s paintings became more abstract and influenced generations to come. In the 1960’s, while influenced by the abstract expressionists, Sam Gilliam also became associated with the Washington color school artists. During the Civil Rights Movement, Lois Mailou Jones became influential in the Black Arts Movement. Like the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement included literature, music and theatre in order to redefine personal identity and self perception through solidarity, racial pride, and political involvement.

By the 1980s, many African American artists began thinking about their identity in a multi-cultural society. Lorna Simpson, born in 1960, was influenced by the Civil Rights Movement and the struggle for equality. Her art uses photographs and text to produce narratives that examine gender, identity and social dynamics. Contemporary works from the last decade diverge from the traditional themes of African American art. Their experience is different, drawing influences from various artistic legacies. Maya Freelon Asante calls herself and “artisvist,” an artist/activist. Her soaked tissue paper, bleeding with color, presents universal issues and personal memories through its reference to African American cultural traditions like quilt making. Caribbean American artists GA Gardner and Ruben Ubiera reflect on contemporary urban life and society by using visual language through a personal identity. Gardner uses his early life in Trinidad and Tobago to portray his current American surroundings through color and textures. Ubiera’s mixed media works present social commentary on the human struggle that can be felt through his technique and subject matter. Jo Anne Jones’ narrative paintings use ambiguous related imagery to convey the complexity of relationships. Kehinde Wiley paints heroic images of African American males using elements of portraiture associated with the paintings of European masters. Wiley alludes to history, race, class and power in contemporary youth culture and African-American identity.

These artists present aspects of African American experience, evoking themes of daily life, community, belonging, and history, through imagery which spans social issues of identity, gender, race, and the nature of relationships in contemporary life. Their aesthetic explorations and viewpoints have enriched the history of American art and continue to redefine it in the twenty-first century.

Imtiaz Hafiz, Curator, Washington, DC, April 2013

 

MAYA FREELON ASANTE (b.1982)

“In 2005 I discovered a stack of brightly colored tissue paper tucked away in my grandmother’s basement. After unfolding the tissue, I noticed that water leaked onto the paper and left an intricate stain. This event inspired a shift in my creative process. Since then I have worked with ‘bleeding’ tissue paper, witnessing its deterioration. Tissue Ink Monoprints are created by saturating the tissue paper with water, thus releasing the ink from the fiber; the tissue is then pressed on to a heavy weight paper, which absorbs the bright ink permanently. The Tissue Ink Monoprints represent a recorded history of formation, which pays homage to the stains it now bears.

I contemplate global issues of war, poverty, waste, ageing and beauty, searching for what fuels our desire to preserve or protect. Giving reverence to my ancestors and meditating on the beauty of now, my art represents the freedom to create challenging work with an objective of universal peace and understanding. The peace starts with the community in which I’m sharing my work; interaction is ever present and essential.”

Maya Freelon Asante attended The American University in Paris, France in 2004, and in 2005 received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Layfayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania. In 2007 Asante received her Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts.

Migration, undated, Tissue and ink, 29"x20", Courtesy of the artist, and Morton Fine Art, Washington, D.C.

Migration, undated, Tissue and ink, 29″x20″, Courtesy of the artist, and Morton Fine Art, Washington, D.C.

 

GA GARDNER (b. 1969)

“This body of work is a reconstruction and redirection of the energy resulting from the over saturation of media and its original intended target. My work is a visual representation of the proliferation of media and information in contemporary society and the resulting cacophony of messages it engenders. The goal of my work is to dissect and neutralize the white noise found in these forms of media; create cohesive stories that integrate my cultural background as an immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago living and working in the USA. I present a Caribbean aesthetic in my art by utilizing colors, textures, and environments as the lens through which I see urban contemporary life in America, weaving my cultural identity back into the fabric of our society.”

GA Gardner began his professional art career in New York City, creating and exhibiting large format 3D computer fine art in 1996. Gardner studied fine art at San Francisco State University, California, from which he earned both his Bachelor’s of Arts and Master’s of Arts degrees. Gardner crafted mixed media art and animation at The Ohio State University, Columbus, where he earned a Ph.D. in Art Education in 1995. Gardner has served as a professor of art and animation at various universities, including William Paterson University (Wayne, New Jersey); University of the District of Columbia; and George Mason University (Fairfax, Virginia), and has been a lecturer at The Ohio State University.

GA Gardner, PPS 107, 2010, Mixed media on wood, 24"x20", Courtesy of the artist, and Morton Fine A

GA Gardner, PPS 107, 2010, Mixed media on wood, 24″x20″, Courtesy of the artist, and Morton Fine Art, Washington, D.C.

 

GA Gardner, PPS 100, 2010, Mixed media on wood, 24"x36", Courtesy of the artist, and Morton Fine Art, Washington,  D.C.

GA Gardner, PPS 100, 2010, Mixed media on wood, 24″x36″, Courtesy of the artist, and Morton Fine Art, Washington, D.C.

 

GA Gardner, Green City, 2010, Mixed media on wood, 40"x48", Courtesy of the artist, and Morton Fine Art, Washington, D.C.

GA Gardner, Green City, 2010, Mixed media on wood, 40″x48″, Courtesy of the artist, and Morton Fine Art, Washington, D.C.

 

PLEASE CONTACT MORTON FINE ART FOR PRICING AND AVAILABILITY OF FEATURED ARTWORK.

http://www.mortonfineart.com

(202) 628-2787

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