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Art & Culture Magazine Houston features artist NATHANIEL DONNETT

7 Dec

We are thrilled to share news that Houston, TX based artist Nathaniel Donnett has been featured in this month’s Art & Culture Magazine Houston in regards to his current solo exhibition ‘In One Form or Another; Verse One’ on view at Houston’s Art League through January 20th.

IMAGE AND TEXT IN TX CULT 2018 SMALL

“HOUSTON—For Nathaniel Donnett, whose work finds expression in a wide range of modes, the studio has a way of expanding beyond the walls of his art-making space into the larger world. For In One Form or Another; Verse One, his exhibition at Houston’s Art League on view through Jan. 20, Donnett is tying his own work to a long history of vibrant protest movements created by African Americans, while slyly referencing geometric abstraction.”  ~ Arts & Culture Magazine

LEONORA DRAPER_web

In other exciting news The Ulrich Museum in Witchita, Kansas has acquired an original work by Donnett for their collection titled ‘Leonora Draper’.  The piece, pictured above, incorporates human and synthetic hair, and graphite on paper!

You can find images of available work by Nathaniel Donnett on our website, and please contact the gallery for any additional details or inquiries!

 

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VICTOR EKPUK Mention in The Herald Sun

13 Jul
JULY 12, 2017 6:00 AM

Long-neglected art of Africa assumes its rightful place of honor at museum

Video: VICTOR EKPUK Installation of Mural at North Carolina Museum of Art!

20 Jun

Washington DC based Nigerian artist VICTOR EKPUK recently completed a mural,  Divinity, for the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC. It was part of their newly opened African art galleries. You can see a time-lapse of him creating the mural above.

To see more available works by VICTOR EKPUK, please visit his page on our website HERE or contact the gallery.

Below, you can find an article written about his installation in the Indy Week:

Victor Ekpuk’s Divine Mural at the North Carolina Museum of Art Heralds New Life for Its African Galleries

Victor Ekpuk's new mural at NCMA was commissioned to augment the museum's expanded African art gallery.

Photo by Ben McKeown

Victor Ekpuk’s new mural at NCMA was commissioned to augment the museum’s expanded African art gallery.

Ekpuk’s work covers a thirty-by-eighteen-foot wall in one of NCMA’s new African art galleries, which have been expanded in the museum’s East Building to include works from across the continent spanning sixteen centuries. Opening to the public by the end of June, the galleries will almost double the number of African works on display, including never-before-seen textiles and works on paper in light-controlled areas.

El Anatsui‘s “Lines that Link Humanity,” a quilt-like sculpture of aluminum and copper wire, hangs on a wall adjacent to Ekpuk’s work. Valises opposite the mural contain objects including a Yoruba divination board and ornately carved totems. Approaching this commission with no preconceived composition, Ekpuk sat in the space for a day considering the neighboring works before he pulled out his iPad to begin sketching.

“It’s more about the aura of the objects that were pulling me as I got closer to some of them,” Ekpuk says. “Some of them I’m familiar with. Some of them not so much. The power and aura of the objects themselves created an atmosphere where I felt a sense of divinity.”

Rendered in white chalk on a black wall, Ekpuk’s composition forms an abstracted figure wrapping long arms around the perimeter. Hundreds of signs and symbols are densely packed within the arms, which are themselves filled with little circles. The large figure has a placid, stylized face at the top, and its distended arms terminate in huge hands that gather the chaos of the symbols together.

The mural has a presence and an intricate density comparable to that of Anatsui’s sculpture. Ekpuk counts Anatsui as an elder, and they’ve shown together in a 1994 group exhibit in Lagos. Ekpuk was one of five up-and-coming Nigerian artists paired with a trio of established African artists.

The Yoruba divination board, however, inspired the mural’s form. Ekpuk talks about how a diviner shakes objects in the tray-like board in order to answer questions or make predictions by interpreting their proximities. Instead of objects, Ekpuk fills his mural with symbols that draw upon nsibidi, a Nigerian system of ideograms. But the symbols are so crowded and intertwined that any attempted reading will be foiled. It’s hard to focus on one sign to see what it might refer to or depict. Instead, one’s vision darts around and takes in the overall density.

“I know it teases your brain to think that you could read it,” Ekpuk laughs, “but it’s not writing that tells you A or B or C. I never try to analyze them or say that they are any one particular thing. I open it up so that people can just see what they see in it.” Echoing this semiotic openness, Ekpuk deflects talk of any overt political message in the work. But neither is it apolitical.

“I walked into the space and, initially, I thought, Let’s not just do another social-political thing. At the same time, I’ve found that art is always politics. Sometimes I don’t think about politics, but once I start making art, this feeling starts coming out in the work. After I made this, I thought, Oh, I’m actually responding to this siege that I feel right now in the political climate in America.'”

Ekpuk describes the composition as a divine embrace, but the arms could be read as a crowded space of containment, like a refugee camp or border wall. The empty zeros might exude the banal homogeneity of power.

Ekpuk won’t say it’s a wrong reading, just that he sees something different. He’s inclined to cede the artist’s intention by making a willfully undetermined work. He’s leaning toward leaving the mural untitled so that a visitor can react to what it is rather than what it means. [Editor’s note: Ekpuk ultimately decided to title the work “Divinity.”]

“It forces you to abandon what you know and have an opportunity to be aware of something else,” he says. “Not everything has to be explained. If you want to bring what you know, then you’re just going to hit the wall. Perhaps it’s sort of a comfort work, rather than an angry work. It’s a reminder that, whether we believe in it or not, there is a divine source of our strength. It’s beyond us.”

This article appeared in print with the headline “Symbol Crash”

VICTOR EKPUK “Drawing Memory : Essence of Memphis” at Brooks Museum

18 May

Drawing Memory: Essence of Memphis

Currently On View

Exhibition Overview

Victor Ekpuk, a Nigerian American artist, painted a mural for a new gallery, Arts of Global Africa, in March 2017. His art is inspired by nsibidi, a sacred means of communication among male secret societies in southeastern Nigeria. Evolving out of the graphic and writing systems of nsibidi, Ekpuk’s art embraces a wider spectrum of meaning to communicate universal themes.

“The subject matter of my work deals with the human condition explained through themes that are both universal and specific: family, gender, politics, culture and identity,” said Ekpuk.

The 58-foot mural is the beginning of the renovation of Arts of Global Africa, which will culminate in fall 2017.

“We are thrilled to be reinstalling the African Gallery with Drawing Memory as the centerpiece. Victor has been an artist in residence at museums across the country and visitors have been inspired and deeply moved by watching him work,” said Chief Curator Marina Pacini.

Ekpuk’s artworks are in such collections as the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African Art, Newark Museum, The World Bank, Hood Museum, Krannert Art Museum, United States Art in Embassies Art Collection and Fidelity Investment Art Collection.

 


Sponsors

Jimmy Humphreys
Brooks Museum League


 

AMBER ROBLES GORDON at the Houston Museum of African-American Culture

22 Mar

THE HOUSTON MUSEUM OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURE PRESENTS  i found god in myself: a celebration of Dr. Ntozake Shange’s, for colored girls
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC FRIDAY, MARCH 10, 2017 THROUGH APRIL 15, 2017  Houston, TX- February 7, 2017— In honor of Women’s History Month, The Houston Museum of African-American Culture (HMAAC) is proud to present, i found god in myself: a celebration of Dr. Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls, curated by Souleo. The exhibit celebrates the genre bending, award-winning choreopoem/play, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, which debuted on Broadway in 1976.
Through 10 commissioned artworks by artists including Houston native Kimberly Mayhorn, Dianne Smith, Margaret Rose Vendryes and Amber Robles-Gordon the exhibition is a tribute to the Broadway play. Each work honors an individual poem and underscores their enduring significance in highlighting issues impacting the lives of women of color such as sexuality, race, sisterhood, violence and self-love depicted in and inspired by Dr. Shange’s work.
 “This exhibition underscores the conversation Dr. Shange started, extending the legacy and impact of her work into the visual arts medium,” explains Souleo, curator of i found god in myself. “The issues surrounding love, sexuality, gender equality, racial identity, and, ultimately, self-love explored by her work remain relevant today,” said Souleo.
 The exhibition will also include archival material that highlights the creation and evolution of the original text from its 1974 California debut to its Broadway run from the Barnard Archives and Special Collections at Barnard College.

 i found god in myself originally debuted in 2014 at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Long Gallery Harlem (formerly The Sol Studio) and La Maison d’Art. It has since traveled to the African American Museum in Philadelphia and is now presented at HMAAC.

Special programming accompanying the exhibition includes:
Friday, March 10, 6:30-8:30 PM: Opening Reception at HMAAC with curator and select exhibiting artists in attendance. Wine and light fare will be provided.

A full listing of related public programs can be found at www.hmaac.org

Exhibiting Artists: 
Amber Robles-Gordon, Beau McCall, Dianne Smith, Kathleen Granados, Kimberly Mayhorn, Margaret Rose Vendryes, Melissa Calderón, Michael Paul Britto, Pamela Council, and Uday K. Dhar.
###ABOUT HOUSTON MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE 
The mission of the Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) is to collect, conserve, explore, interpret, and exhibit the material and intellectual culture of Africans and African Americans in Houston, the state of Texas, the southwest and the African Diaspora for current and future generations. HMAAC explores stories inspired by themes of opportunity, empowerment, creativity, and innovation and cultural interrelationships through the lens of the African American experience.

 About Dr. Ntozake Shange:
Ntozake Shange is an American playwright, and poet. As a self-proclaimed black feminist, she addresses issues relating to race and feminism in much of her work.  Shange is best known for the Obie Award-winning play, For Colored Girls.  She has also written several novels including Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo, Liliane, and Betsey Brown. Among her honors and awards are fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund, and a Pushcart Prize.
 About Peter “Souleo” Wright:
Peter “Souleo” Wright creates and produces entertaining and informative events, exhibitions, cultural programs and media content. Souleo has collaborated with noteworthy institutions and brands including the New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay & Lesbian Art, AARP, Huffington Post, EBONY and more. Souleo’s work has been widely covered outlets including the Associated Press, NY Times, NBC and more.

 

Morton Fine Art celebrates the historic grand opening of the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture with KESHA BRUCE’s (Re)calling & (Re)telling photography

13 Sep
Inspired by family mythologies and personal experiences, KESHA BRUCE‘s photography series (Re)calling and (Re)telling creates open narratives addressing aspects of African American history and experience through memory and storytelling. The complete 14 piece series of (Re)calling and (Re)telling is in the permanent collection of the new Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture.
EXHIBITION LOCATION

Morton Fine Art (MFA)

1781 Florida Ave NW (at 18th & U Sts)
Washington, DC 20009

HOURS

Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 6pm

Sunday 12pm-5pm

About (Re)calling & (Re)telling

Kesha Bruce uses photography as a means to explore new ways of conceptualizing cultural and ethnic identities and histories. Inspired by a collection of old and damaged negatives given to her by her grandfather, (Re)calling and (Re)telling is essentially the next step in the progression of those ideas.

Each photograph in (Re)calling and (Re)telling begins with a single large-format negative. Once a print has been made from the negative, fragments of maps, drawings, or other found imagery are manually manipulated directly in front of the camera lens, on a delicately lit three-dimensional set, in order to arrive at a final image. Each image in the series is composed and created “in camera” without the aid of photo-editing software.

(Re)calling and (Re)telling is part history, part personal mythology, and part homage. Each image contains narratives and histories, both real and invented, that give voice to individuals who remain marginalized by the commonly accepted meta-narratives within Western culture.

That They Might Be Lovely 
 
 

That They Might Be Lovely, 12″x9″, archival pigment print, edition of 15


That They Might Be Lovely was created by combining three images: The first, a Slave Map, dating from 1857, illustrating slave populations by state and county; a daguerreotype portrait of a slave woman named Delia, taken by Louis Agassiz in 1850; and a photograph of three lovely, smiling women, taken by my grandfather, nearly one hundred years later.

In Delia’s portrait, I saw not just a portrait of a slave, but a portrait of a woman who refused to be shamed by history. Much like the ancient limestone busts of Nefertiti, her profile reveals dignity and strength.
In the narrative I’ve created, the three young, beautiful, women, posing happily in a field, represent Delia’s private imaginings.
They are her dream, her wish, and her hope for the future. –KeshaBruce

And Then I Shall Be Free 
 
 

And Then I Shall Be Free, 12″x9″, archival pigment print, edition of 15


My grandfather seemed to have picked up photography as a hobby during the period from 1950-1955 while he was a soldier during the Korean War.  He never spoke to me about his photographs until I too began studying photography at University.  Then, one day, without explanation, he gave me his entire collection of negatives.

And Then I Shall Be Free combines an archival photograph taken of a slave plantation with an inset self-portrait of my grandfather in uniform. For my grandfather, being a soldier represented the possibility of a better life, and ultimately freedom. –Kesha Bruce

Begotten 
 
 

Begotten, 12″x9″, archival pigment print, edition of 15
 
While religion has never been the subject of my work, my religious upbringing has definitely had a significant influence on my work.

The idea for this image came from an archival photo of slave children on a plantation. This particular photograph of the children brought to mind a biblical verse that had always fascinated me.
The first chapter of the book of Matthew traces the genealogy of Christ. The chapter begins: “Abraham begot Isaac, and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers…” and continues on for another 16 verses, in this same manner, until we reach the birth of Jesus Christ.
I used a simplified shape of a house and the words from the passage as a foreground to reframe the original image. –Kesha Bruce

Nobody Knows Her People 
 
 

Nobody Knows Her People, 12″x9″ archival pigment print, edition of 15


“Nobody Knows Her People” is a phrase I once overheard one of my family members use to explain why nobody really knew much about my grandfather’s mother.  Much later, I learned that she was orphaned as a young child and was taken in and raised by another family, eventually taking their last name.

The primary image I’ve incorporated into Nobody Knows Her Peoplewas a very popular abolitionist propaganda drawing that was widely circulated in many different versions and printed in many different publications.  I was always struck by the simplicity and the power of this drawing and it immediately came to mind once I’d decided I wanted to create a narrative about history, disconnection, and loss.

Kesha Bruce

About National Museum of African American History & Culture
 
 
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts. Nearly 100,000 individuals have become charter members of the museum. When the NMAAHC opens on September 24, 2016, it will be the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution.
There are four pillars upon which the NMAAHC stands:
  1. It provides an opportunity for those who are interested in African American culture to explore and revel in this history through interactive exhibitions;
  2. It helps all Americans see how their stories, their histories, and their cultures are shaped and informed by global influences;
  3. It explores what it means to be an American and share how American values like resiliency, optimism, and spirituality are reflected in African American history and culture; and
  4. It serves as a place of collaboration that reaches beyond Washington to engage new audiences and to collaborate with the myriad of museums and educational institutions that have explored and preserved this important history well before this museum was created.
The NMAAHC is a public institution open to all, where anyone is welcome to participate, collaborate, and learn more about African American history and culture. In the words of Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of the NMAAHC, “there are few things as powerful and as important as a people, as a nation that is steeped in its history.”

Tips for the Emerging Art Collector

26 Apr

When starting an art collection, purchasing art can be a very daunting task. Many find the idea of it intimidating and overwhelming. However, the truth is that it doesn’t have to be that difficult. There are all kinds of ways in which art collecting is open to everyone…one just needs to take that first step. Art isn’t always a $10 million painting and you don’t always have to find it in a gallery in New York City.  This post is going to share some tips on how to begin your journey down the fun path of collecting art.

Julia Fernandez Pol, Reef Series 8, 23.5"x18.5", bas-relief hand painted monoprint

Julia Fernandez Pol, Reef Series 8, 23.5″x 18.5″, bas-relief hand painted monoprint

Tip #1: Buy art you like/love/couldn’t live without.

This is the first thing any collector will tell you. There is nothing like a regretted purchase, especially when it comes to art. That is why it is strongly suggested that you buy works that really speak to you. When buying a work of art, you want to make sure that it is something that you will still want to look at after it’s been on your wall for some amount of time. Works that make you stop and notice something new in them every time you look are the best kinds of works. If you see a piece in a gallery and you can’t stop thinking about it or continuously go to see it, that’s probably the art collector inside telling you something. At Morton Fine Art, we have the option of taking art works out on approval so that you can hang them in your home/office for a short period of time to get a feeling of what it would be like living with the piece.

Self goggles 4 - 8x10 - oil on mylar web

Charles Williams, Self Portrait with Goggles 4, 10″x8″, oil on mylar

Tip #2: Artwork doesn’t have to match your sofa. Or other pieces in your in collection.

This is a good follow up to the “Buy art you love” tip. It can be a touchy subject as on a few occasions, some people have come into the gallery looking for something to match a piece of furniture or a wall in their space. While it is really awesome when works of art match, it can stifle the creative freedom that makes art collecting fun. Buying your first piece of art doesn’t have to dictate the direction your collection will go. You can mix landscapes with figurative works, abstracts with realism. For example, works on paper are a great way to keep  In the end, it’s really about how they make you feel. Your art collection is a story about you and the experiences you’ve had in your life time.

Trance Dance, 2002, 26"x19", oil and pastel on handmade paper

Trance Dance, 2002, 26″x 19″, oil and pastel on handmade paper

Tip #3: More often than not, art IS in your budget.

A lot of potential collectors get scared off from buying art because they automatically assume the works are going to be out of their price range. Stories from auction houses about works that sell for millions don’t help alleviate this misconception. There are different ways galleries can help you figure out how to buy your first piece. When you are going to a gallery to buy art for the first time, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Also, keep in mind that certain factors will determine the price of a piece. Medium for example, can dictate the price of an artwork. From my own personal experience, I’ve built my collection (which include works by Vonn Sumner, Katherine Hattam, Nathaniel Donnett and Kesha Bruce) around buying works on paper because I find that they fit within my budget more so than works on canvas. That shouldn’t, however, prevent you from figuring out which mediums you like best.

Other ways can be through extended payments. For example, art works can be put on payment plans. Galleries will break up the cost of a piece into more easily payable payments over a 2-3 month period. This is helpful because it will help you budget and feel more secure in your art purchase. However, don’t always assume a gallery will offer you a plan. If you are really interested in a piece, ask the gallerist about their financial options.

If you are interested in starting your art collection or are looking to add something new to your already started collection, please contact the gallery. New collectors, ask about our New Collector Initiative!