Tag Archives: Amber Robles Gordon

AMBER ROBLES-GORDON in Ahlem Baccouche and ARTNOIR’s Larry Ossei-Mensah “From: Friends, To: Friends”

5 Feb

From: Friends, To: Friends Nov 27 Part 2: On The Journey

 in article

Ahlem Baccouche in conversation with Larry Ossei-Mensah on his journey into the art world, his stance on diversity, and much more. 

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Leveraging the power of art as an agent for social change and cultural transformation is the mission of ARTNOIR’s co-founder, art critic and international curator Larry Ossei-Mensah, whose latest initiative invites people to become agents of change in the art industry.  

In the first part of this interview, Larry expanded on his partnership with Artsy for the ARTNOIR From: Friends To: Friends Benefit Auction, which aimed to raise funds for the newly launched ARTNOIR Jar of Love Funda microgrant initiative intended to provide relief for artists, curators, and cultural workers of colour.  

In this second part, we discuss Larry’s journey into the art world, his views on diversity, his upcoming projects and advice on leading an authentic life.  

Ahlem Baccouche: I’m always curious about the journey that led people to their current position, as life is never a linear path. What was your journey like?  

Larry Ossei-Mensah: My starting point in terms of art and business was in high school, where I did internships at record labels like Epic and Columba Records from my junior year all the way through university. I wanted to be a record man, I wanted to be Diddy. That experience gave me my first exposure to the intersection of art and business. The art being music as a form of expression, but also music as a commodity: how it can be packaged, marketed, distributed and consumed.  

That foundationally informs my thinking. When I think about an exhibition that I’m doing, I see it like an album release. How do I build content around a show that will be different than just a press release and an email blast? A good example of that would be the Phillips Auction conversation with Tremaine Emory, we used it not only as a space to talk about art, but also social justice and other issues currently impacting society.  

I eventually realized that the music industry wasn’t for me, and worked a bit in marketing and advertising before going to Switzerland to complete a Masters at Les Roches. My mother worked in the hospitality industry for about thirty – thirty five years at the Waldorf Astoria, so there was always a romance of opening a hotel or something similar one day, as it’s an industry that I grew up in. That is something I still want to do in the long term.  

Studying at Les Roches and being exposed to a truly international student body shifted my thinking about humanity and how we engage with each other. It taught me how to really value people, relationships, and perspectives that were different from mine. Just because you have two people from the same city, like New York, doesn’t mean they’ll get on. We can have very different experiences. My time at Les Roches also afforded me an opportunity to travel and explore Europe. As a graduate student, I didn’t have a lot of discretionary income, so I found things that were free and, a lot of the time, that would be museums.  

The American education system makes you believe that there wasn’t a presence of Black people in Europe throughout history. However, by going to these museums in Europe, to a place like Florence’s Uffizi Galleries, and discovering paintings of Black people, even if they’re mixed, was mind blowing. That afro, is undeniable.  

That exposure started an inquiry into who’s telling the narrative of the Black diaspora experience? Who’s controlling the story? So much is hidden from us or recontextualized. For example, one of Sicily’s patron saint is of African descent, Saint Benedict the Black, there are murals of this guy all over Palermo. It’s not a hidden secret, but it’s not openly discussed. I began this inquiry and started taking photographs as a way to document these experiences and began to exhibit these images when I moved back to the states. I exhibited a little, but quickly realized that being a photographer wasn’t my journey. After that epiphany,  I started writing about art and that’s when I noticed that there weren’t enough platforms for artists of colour to have their work be seen, discussed and purchased.  

This was over ten years ago, before it became in vogue. The ability to recognize that and be invested in it fully has allowed me to build a lot of relationships, which was the backstory behind the foundation of ARTNOIR. Knowing artists at the beginning of their career and having a decade-long relationship with them, whether I’ve shown their art or not, provided a spark plug for rich dialogue and collaboration with these artists. Moreover, building those relationships over time helped me shift and expand my thinking about contemporary art.  

Click here to read the entire article:

https://www.madeinbed.co.uk/agents-of-change/from-friends-to-friends-part-2-on-the-journey

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Temples of My Familiars R Squared Triangular Fractals, The Yin and Yang Over Color Theory by Amber Robles-Gordon. Image credit: Amber Robles-Gordon website.

 AB: What projects are you currently working on?  

LOM: I will be co-curating the 7th Athens Biennale with OMSK Social Club, which has been rescheduled for Spring 2021.  

I’m doing a show in Rome in November as part of a series of exhibitions called Parallels and Peripheries. The show in Miami included only women artists. In Detroit, we looked at the intersection of Art, Technology, and Nature. In Maryland, the theme was about migration and immigration, and it included first generation immigrant artists. The show in Rome is called Fragments and Fractals and is held at Galleria Anna Marra (a 3D viewing is available). 

We’ll be thinking about fractals as a mathematical concept, the potential to repeat infinitely, and exploring the idea of fragmentation when thinking about layered identities. As an example, I’m Black; I’m African American; I’m also Ghanaian; I’m a New Yorker; I come from a working class background; I’m a male. We try to look at the different layers that compose a person, not just from an identity standpoint, but also from a practice standpoint. 

The show includes six Black artists: Kim DacresKenturah DavisBasil KincaidNate LewisDavid Shrobe and Kennedy Yanko. They all work with different mediums such as sculpture, photography, drawing and painting. It will be the first show in Italy for some of them. Just think about the social climate in Italy, particularly for Black folks. How do we use the exhibition as a platform to key in on those things? I also highlight that the fact that we’re Black does not mean that we’re a monolith. We’re very vast and very diverse in our experiences, our thinking and our creative approach.    

Next, I have a show at the American University in 2021 with Amber Robles Gordon, an Afro Puerto Rican artist based in DC. It will be a solo show of just abstract work, which is exciting for me, because I don’t think I’ve done a solo presentation of just abstraction. So I seize this opportunity to educate myself on movements like the Washington Color School and look at artists like Alma Thomas more closely.  

It’s also interesting to mine this layer of the diasporas: so thinking about the African diaspora experience from a Latin perspective, but then also from an American perspective, because the artist grew up in the United States as well. 

Lastly, I’m toying around with the idea of writing a pocket book on my experience in the art world. I gave a lecture with Oolite Art at Anderson Ranch called “Lead with the Hustle.” I describe my journey, but also talk about things that I’ve recognized that I believe not only artists, but all people should be aware of.  

From storytelling, to relationship management, professionalism, likeability and how to operate on a professional level consistently. It’s about how to work within the art world from a business standpoint and think about storytelling through your work. What is your story? If I was doing an article on you, what would that story look like? Why do you do what you do? 

AB: Are there any artists, curators, businesses, colleagues, or organizations whose work you admire and would like to highlight?  

LOM: In terms of curators, Okwui Enwezor of course. I’m following many curators who are doing a lot of incredible work internally and externally. Among them are Meg Olni from ICA Philadelphia, Erin Christoval from the Hammer Museum and Osei Bonsu at Tate Modern.  

I like what SAVVY Contemporary is doing in Berlin. In terms of fashion, I love what Pyer Moss is doing. They just released a sneaker of which the proceeds will go towards The Innocence Projects.  

AB: Any favourite advice, resources or tips you’d like to share?  

LOM: It goes back to the pillars: really understand why it is you’ve chosen to work within the arts. I think that understanding the why, for me, informs everything else. It’s going to inform where you’ll choose to work; it’s going to inform your values. I recommend this book called Start with Why.  

Cultivate meaningful relationships. The art world in particular, is about human connection. You’ll know a lot of people, but how many of those people are meaningful relationships where you can pick up the phone and call if you have a question, or an issue. How many of those people would you invite over to your home for dinner?  

Branch out. Build a support system. This is going to be a journey and you need people from different spectrums. When we think about mentorship, it’s always kind of thinking of an old wise person, and that’s antiquated. We need to change the way we think about mentorship, as it doesn’t necessarily have to be with an older, wiser person. I think peer mentorship is just as valuable.  

In terms of books, Never Eat Alone is a great book about relationship building. Some people will call it networking, I prefer “relationships” as “networking” feels more transactional. Who Moved My Cheese is a good one to adapt to change. Collecting Contemporary by Adam Lindemann, particularly for artists who want to get a snapshot of the industry. The Hard Things About Hard Things is a business book coming from an honest perspective. Usually, when you hear about a business, you only hear about the success. You don’t hear about the pitfalls, running out of money, being broke and the resilience that it takes. Being an artist is not easy, so you need to make sure to have the tools and the support to navigate the ebbs and flows of this journey. 

And my final tip: Stay true to yourself.

Source: https://www.madeinbed.co.uk/agents-of-change/from-friends-to-friends-part-2-on-the-journey Tags: Larry Ossei-MensahARTNOIRAmber Robles GordonAhlem BaccoucheMadeinbedmagazinePeter Williams ExhibitionOkwui EnwezorMeg OlniErin ChristovalOsei BonsuOolite ArtAnderson RanchWashington Color SchoolAlma ThomasSotheby’s Institute of Art

Available artwork by AMBER ROBLES-GORDON

Morton Fine Art, 52 O St NW #302, Washington, DC 20001

http://www.mortonfineart.com

AMBER ROBLES-GORDON’s series “Place of Breath and Birth” on view with TAFETA at 1-54

13 Sep

Video of AMBER ROBLES-GORDON’s latest series “Place of Breath and Birth

Amber Robles-Gordon

Amber’s artwork is based on her personal narrative and the intersections of womanhood, patriarchy, hybridism, and Americanism.

Her intention is to further contextualize her narrative and artwork within the political, socioeconomic, and environmental threads that define, control, alienate and/or mistreat Puerto Ricans and Afro-Puerto Ricans in particular.

Place of Breath and Birth

A foundational symbology of this body of work is the Fiscus Elastica commonly known as the Rubber Tree, Rubber Fig or Rubber Plant.

The second most important symbolic layer of the work are the depictions and interpretations of the transitions of day to night and night to day.

“Throughout some of the artworks, I am a figure, a witness to the beauty and complexity of the Puerto Rican landscape”

“Ultimately, I hope this narrative and artwork gives voice to others who walk in brownness—who breathe within a female form, and/or who do not quite fit the norms…yet are Bold and Proud.”

Amber Robles-Gordon’s artwork will be presented by TAFETA at the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in October 2020.

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AMBER ROBLES-GORDON’s series “Place of Breath and Birth” created in her birth country of Puerto Rico

16 Jul

 

Place of Breath and Birth

Series, Collage, 2020

Botánica del Amor, Autorreflexión y Espiritualidad, 18 x 24, 2020

Botánica del Amor, Autorreflexión y Espiritualidad, 18 x 24, 2020

Place of Breath and Birth

Solo Exhibition at Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Background:

As my first opportunity to exhibit in the Caribbean and to deepen my relationship with my birthplace, San Juan, Puerto Rico – la Isla del Encanto (the enchanted island) – I have titled this solo exhibition at Galleria de Arte, Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in Santurce, Puerto Rico, Place of Breath and Birth. My artwork is about my personal narrative and the intersections of womanhood, patriarchy, hybridism, and Americanism. My intention is to further contextualize my narrative and artwork within the political, socioeconomic, and environmental threads that define and are often in my opinion used to control, alienate and or mistreat Puerto Ricans in generally and Afro-Puerto Ricans in particular.

The intention of this exhibition is to empower my five-year-old self. To give her the strength to fight for herself, her language and culture. I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and raised in Arlington, Virginia. My first language was Spanish, yet at about five years old, I came home one day and told my mother: “I was not speaking Spanish anymore”. From then on, I responded to my Spanish/English speaking mother in English only. Later, I came to understand that I had surrendered my Spanish tongue—a critical part of my cultural identity— so that I could “fit” a version of myself that could possibly coincide with the prescribed box that others had for a brown-skinned girl such as myself.  Although in time, the name calling ceased, however, the micro-aggressions, insensitive questions, assumptions, and judgments about my brownness lingered. Throughout this life, time-after-time, I have had to choose to identify with my brownness/blackness over the other cultural ties that bind other Spanish speaking people with their culture.

My Caribbean family—with roots in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and Antigua— has long been impacted and splintered, by the search or pursuit of education, better income, and greener pastures. As with all achievement, there are gains and losses. The fruit includes a well-educated family with greater exposure to the world and economic and social opportunities. Yet, the primary sacrifice is our distance from the thickened knotted roots of Caribbean Black and Latino heritage and culture that living at home might have provided. – AMBER ROBLES-GORDON, 2020

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Visiting Puerto Rico:

In preparation for this exhibit, my mother and I spent two weeks in September 2019 Puerto Rico. My mother was returning to her childhood home and I was visiting for the first time as an adult. Since then, I have returned to PR to give an artist talk as part of Sagrado de Corazon’s visiting art program and to live in PR for extended period to produce the artwork for this exhibition.  Due to the impact of continuing earthquakes in Puerto Rico from 2019 unward and the COVID 19 epidemic, the format and focus of this artwork has shifted. On July 10, 2020, Place of Breath and Birth will be featured online by the Galleria de Arte, Universidad del Sagrado Corazón on its website at https://www.sagrado.edu/visitingartist/. Additionally, please check out the interview with myself and Norma Vila, Directora de la Galería de Sagrado at https://insagrado.sagrado.edu/las-recientes-iniciativas-de-la-galeria-de-sagrado/?fbclid=IwAR3omEVgPUlcm67lRRBbaliuhimPu6GK-PwK4toQS7CNH0y5IxsidHs9kUw to find out additional details about the residency and my experiences in Puerto Rico.

The Artwork:

Upon its completion, Place of Breath and Birth, will include ten (10) mix-media collages. This digital exhibit includes the first four collage works of the series. Included in this virtual exhibition are the following works: Botánica del Amor, Autorreflexión y Espiritualidad (Botany of Love, Self-reflection and Spirituality), La Island del Encanto (The Island of Enchantment), and Tendedero, Comunidad y Energía Eterna (Clothesline, Community and Eternal Energy). Each collage measures 18 X 24 inches and is made of acrylic paint, magazine paper, permanent ink line drawings, fabric, and other mixed media items.

A foundational symbology of this body of work is the Fiscus Elastica commonly known as the Rubber Tree, rubber fig or rubber plant.  I was introduced to the Rubber Tree while in Puerto Rico on the grounds of the Universidad de Sagrado de Corazón (University of the Sacred Heart) campus. Among its extensive botanical collection of indigenous plants of Puerto Rico; I found a large banyan tree whose broad canopy sheltered smaller versions of itself growing at its feet. This tree appeared to be a literal fusion of past, present and future state of creation or sustaining an ecosystem. In La Isla del Encanto (pictured below) and throughout this series are abstracted representations of the rubber tree– an entanglement of strong roots – as a example of its resiliency this tree most recently stood-fast to its native soil while 155 mph winds that battered the campus.

Isla del Encanta, 18 x 24, 2020

Isla del Encanta, 18 x 24, 2020

The second most important symbolic layer of the work are the depictions and interpretations of the transitions of day to night and night to day. I intentionally choose a studio and apartment on the third floor in Puerto Nuevo with three-dimensional exposure to light. I then surrounded myself with plants to create an internal garden a reflection of the thousands of “porch gardens” featured throughout PR neighborhoods. From this perch, I could see the changing environment as the light increased or waned and how the varying aspects of weather altered each day. Depending on where I stood, and the time of day, I had a virtual window into the varying socioeconomics aspects of diversity of the island. The combination of the verdant and vibrant nature of the island landscape, my internal garden and the third floor weather allowed for the feeling of creating an atmosphere.

As I progressed through researching, photographing, living and ultimately creating after the beginning of COVID 19 quarantine the cylinder abstracted rubber tree forms expanded to circular ecospheres to convey a spiritual and ethereal connections to and within my immediate environment. Throughout some of the artworks I am a figure, a witness to the beauty and complexity of the Puerto Rican landscape – tropical jungle, 1,000 of miles of carreteras, the co-mingling and isolation of three major ethnic/racial groups – Taino, the Spanish and Africans, the strangle hold of the United States and the impact of the Caribbean Sea, with its threat of hurricanes, scorching summer heat and lush landscape.

Ultimately, I hope this narrative and artwork gives voice to others who walk in brownness—who breathe within a female form, and or—- who do not quite fit the norms…yet are Bold and Proud. – AMBER ROBLES-GORDON, 2020

Tendedero, Comunidad y Energía Eterna, 18 x 24, 2020

Tendedero, Comunidad y Energía Eterna, 18 x 24, 2020

Elemental: Tierra, Aire, Agua, Fuego, 18 x 24, 2020

Elemental: Tierra, Aire, Agua, Fuego, 18 x 24, 2020

Morton Fine Art
52 O St NW #302
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 628-2787 (call or text)
mortonfineart@gmail.com

AMBER ROBLES-GORDON exhibiting at Sagrado University in Puerto Rico

13 Jul

Galería de Arte de la Universidad del Sagrado Corazón

LUGAR DE ALIENTO Y NACIMIENTO

Proyecto por nuestra Artista Visitante Amber Robles Gordon

En Sagrado, el bienestar de nuestra comunidad es lo primero. Continuamos monitoreando el desarrollo de eventos relacionados con la propagación mundial del coronavirus (COVID-19). Como medida de precaución, Sagrado está implementando la práctica del distanciamiento social. Por lo tanto, la Galería de Arte permanecerá cerrada hasta nuevo aviso.

A través de los años, hemos creado una comunidad que se une para apreciar diferentes experiencias estéticas. Queremos continuar esto sin poner en riesgo a nuestros visitantes. Por lo tanto, estamos poniendo a disposición esta experiencia en línea. Entre las nuevas ofertas compartimos el trabajo de Amber Robles Gordon, quien fue nuestra artista visitante durante el semestre de otoño y, a partir de esa experiencia, ha creado nuevas obras bajo el título “Un lugar de aliento y nacimiento”.

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Amber Robles-Gordon, es una artista visual de medios mixtos. Conocida por recontextualizar materiales no tradicionales, sus ensamblajes, grandes esculturas, instalaciones y obras de arte públicas, para enfatizar la esencialidad de la espiritualidad y la temporalidad dentro de la vida.

Impulsada por la necesidad de construir su propio camino distintivo, innovar y desafiar las normas sociales, su obra de arte es poco convencional y no formulada. Sus creaciones son representativas de sus experiencias personales y las paradojas dentro del desequilibrio de las energías masculinas y femeninas con nuestra sociedad. En última instancia, la intención es examinar los paralelos entre cómo la humanidad percibe sus mayores recursos, hombres y mujeres versus cómo tratamos nuestras posesiones y medio ambiente.

“Tuve la suerte de ser la artista visitante de la Galería de Arte de la Universidad Sagrado Corazón, durante este año académico. Esta oportunidad me permitiría conocer el lugar donde por primera vez respiré. Luego de mis dos visitas a Puerto Rico a finales del 2019, decidí a comienzos del 2020 alquilar un apartamento en Puerto Nuevo para comenzar a producir la serie “A Place of Breath and Birth”, pautada para presentarse al final del año académico (abril de 2020) en la Galería. Debido a los terremotos persistentes, y el riesgo que representan para la comunidad Sagrado, mi exhibición se vio pospuesta, más tarde con el inicio de la pandemia COVID-19, todo a nivel mundial se alteró y tuve que regresar a Washington D.C. Las nuevas obras producidas bajo el título Un lugar de aliento y nacimiento se trasladaron a mi plataforma en línea y formarán parte de mi exhibición individual titulada Secession, a presentarse en el Katzen Art Center de la American University. (webpage https://www.amberroblesgordon.com/place-of-breath-and-birth-exhibition-puerto-rico).

Esta sería mi primera oportunidad de exhibir en el Caribe y profundizar mi relación con mi lugar de nacimiento, Puerto Rico, (la Isla del Encanto).

Por eso había titulado la exposición, Lugar de aliento y nacimiento. Comparto con ustedes unas palabras de mi declaración de artista, la que dio origen a esta serie que todavía está ardiendo y guiando mi descubrimiento por mis orígenes todos los días.

La intención de la propuesta para una exposición individual en P.R. fue empoderar a mi yo de cinco años. Para darle la fuerza para luchar por ella misma y su lenguaje. Nací en San Juan, Puerto Rico y crecí en Arlington, Virginia. Mi primer idioma era el español, pero a los cinco años llegué un día de la escuela y le dije a mi madre: “ya no hablaré en español”. A partir de entonces, sólo respondí a mi madre que habla español e inglés en inglés. Más tarde, llegué a comprender que entregué mi lengua española, una parte crítica de mi identidad cultural, para poder “adaptarme”; a una versión de mí misma que posiblemente podría coincidir con “el molde prescrito”; que otros tenían para una niña de piel morena como yo. En ese momento, mi familia y yo vivíamos en una zona de los EE. UU. donde había pocas personas que se parecían a mí y hablaran español. Aunque con el tiempo, los insultos cesaron, las micro-agresiones, preguntas insensibles, suposiciones y juicios persistieron. A lo largo de esta vida, una y otra vez, he tenido que elegir identificarme con mi color marrón / negrura sobre los otros lazos culturales que unen a otras personas de habla hispana con su cultura. Aunque, mi narrativa personal es el foco principal de estas obras de arte, continuaré contextualizando la misma dentro de los hilos políticos, socioeconómicos y ambientales que definen y a menudo se utilizan para controlar, alienar o maltratar a los puertorriqueños en general y a los afro- puertorriqueños en particular. Además, mi obra de arte trata sobre las intersecciones de la feminidad, el patriarcado, el hibridismo y el americanismo. En última instancia, espero que esta narrativa y esta obra de arte den voz a otros que caminan en tonos marrones, que respiran dentro de una forma femenina y que no se ajustan a las normas … pero son audaces y orgullosos.
Isla de Encanta

Isla Del Encanta 18 x 24 2020

Haz un click sobre las imágenes para ver una versión más grande.

Elemental_ tierra aire agua fuego

Elemental: Tierra, Aire, Agua y Fuego 18 x 24 2020

Más tarde, llegué a comprender que entregué mi lengua española, una parte crítica de mi identidad cultural, para poder “adaptarme” a una versión de mí mismo que posiblemente podría coincidir con la caja prescrita que otros tenían para una niña de piel morena como yo.

En ese momento, vivíamos en el continente de los EE. UU., Y vivíamos en un área donde había pocas personas que se parecían a mí y hablaban español. Aunque con el tiempo, los insultos cesaron; Las micro-agresiones, preguntas insensibles, suposiciones y juicios persistieron. A lo largo de esta vida, una y otra vez, he tenido que elegir identificarme con mi color marrón / negrura sobre los otros lazos culturales que unen a otras personas de habla hispana con su cultura.

Tendederos Communidad Energia Eterna

Tendedero Comunidad y Energía Eterna 18 x 24 2020

Aunque, mi narrativa personal será el foco principal de estas obras de arte; Continuaré contextualizando la obra de arte dentro de los hilos políticos, socioeconómicos y ambientales que definen y a menudo se utilizan para controlar, alienar o maltratar a los puertorriqueños en general y a los afro-puertorriqueños en particular. Además, mi obra de arte trata sobre las intersecciones de la feminidad, el patriarcado, el hibridismo y el americanismo. En última instancia, espero que esta narrativa y esta obra de arte den voz a otros que caminan en tonos marrones, que respiran dentro de una forma femenina y que no se ajustan a las normas … pero son audaces y orgullosos.

Botanica del Amor Autorreflexion y Espiritualidad

Botánica del Amor, Autoreflexión y Espiritualidad 18 x 24 2020

AMBER ROBLES-GORDON’s ” “Fertile Grounds: of minds, the womb, and the earth” at The Nicholson Project

13 Dec

 

 

In DC, neighborhoods are facing an unprecedented amount of change in appearance, racial makeup, and social policies that runs counter to the once-prevalent idea of DC being “Chocolate City.” However, there are ways to balance change with paying respects to DC’s living history. The Nicholson Project, an artist residency that recently opened in Ward 7, hopes to demonstrate this change effectively with the inaugural resident artist Amber Robles-Gordon, who lives only eight minutes from the building. For me, it feels like a house turned into a relic, with its period-accurate rehab details; however, the Nicholson Project owners do not focus on the actual former owners, but highlight contemporary artists of color instead.

Robles-Gordon’s multimedia installation at the Nicholson Project, “Fertile Grounds: of minds, the womb, and the earth,” delves into emotional and physical histories of the bodies of women of color in scientific and medical contexts. From gynecologist and slave-owner J. Marion Sims to government-sanctioned Tuskegee experiments, systematic violence on Black women and their wombs plays a quintessential part of American history and medicine. Nowadays, such violence has evolved into defiling the space that bodies of color inhabit; a disproportionate amount of US pollution, for instance, is shipped off to poorer countries for processing. This installation, Robles-Gordon explained to me, “is a conversation about the deleterious effects that man-made products have on the earth in general and how that is in conjunction with what we put into our body: unresolved trauma, unresolved issues, unresolved energy.”

In tribute to the story and cells of Henrietta Lacks—the Baltimore woman whose immortal cancer cells were harvested without her knowledge or consent at Johns Hopkins in 1951, and continue to be used in research to this day—“Fertile Grounds” layers nuance into how informed consent shapes who and what gains access to bodies and parts. Her installation seems to ask: “Who has the right to examine and characterize what is happening here? How are they describing it, and are they using the correct tools and language to do so?”

The room-size installation uses every corner and cranny of its 12-square-foot space, from floor to rafters. White cotton strings, which remind me of Fred Sandbeck’s minimalist work, hang vertically, in a 3-D formation approaching the viewer. Suspended from the strings, colorful sticks wrapped in natural and synthetic fabrics form diamond shapes at different heights and depths. Each of the three layers is approximately 8 inches apart, dancing whenever you move around. The flat V shape of the overall installation, when seen head-on, channels sacred yoni power and fragility. Approachable only from the sides and front, the installation offers viewers no access to its inner layers, setting a subtle barrier of modesty and mystery.

Women, in Robles-Gordon’s interpretation, bear the brunt of environmental instability and physical violation. The artist focuses on the physical manifestations of trauma through fibroids, growths that spontaneously appear in uteruses due to hereditary factors and which are thought to be exacerbated through emotional and physical stress. The systemic disadvantage that women of color receive in medical contexts compounds these problems.

With Henrietta Lacks, her DNA was taken from her womb without her knowledge and parsed out to strangers, thousands of times, in a 20th-century form of legal slavery. More to the point, medical institutions and genetic science itself have profited off of her cells without the Lacks family‘s knowledge, anonymized as HeLa cells to conceal the fact that any living person was ever connected to them. To stress the ancestral and narrative power of Lacks’ ordeal, Robles-Gordon uses talking sticks, an indigenous artifact that uses twigs wrapped in different strips of cloth, to represent her DNA.

“Someone told me I have a fascination with materiality,” Robles-Gordon says. “Each stick is like a conversation or like a strand of DNA where it’s perfectly imperfect.”

She uses a rainbow palette with an evolved sense of how its placement completes the personification of humanity: the spirit of colors, feelings, and experiences. With her previous solo show in 2018, Third Eye Open, Robles-Gordon focused outwards, on the infinity of the cosmos; here at the Nicholson Project, she zeroes in on the unknowable within the body.

Stefanie Reiser, the owner and operator of the Nicholson Project, came to the idea of an arts residency by way of her main occupation in real estate development. When she was starting out, she says, she was “gravitating towards doing things that are related to the arts and how I could use space in a way that really could cultivate and be a cultural hub or a catalyst for creative activities.” She also took care, in her complete rehab of the Nicholson Project house, to bring in historically accurate doorways, flooring, and fixtures to reflect the styling of similar houses built around the same time, decades ago. In an interview, Reiser stressed how the property became an important symbol of history remade and re-examined for her. This building, which officially opened Sept. 14, offers paid residencies for creatives of all disciplines, stating on its Instagram that it creates “a safe, equitable space for artists to work on their studio practice and produce onsite creative activations.”

Besides Robles-Gordon’s installation, there is a photo exhibition entitled Goosin’ featuring local artist and Howard University professor Larry Cook, videographer Vince Brown, and photographer Beverly Price, alongside “Take a Stand” (2019), a neon piece by Jefferson Pinder. Goosin’, which according to the Nicholson Project’s Instagram means “the act of looking at someone or something in admiration,” features boys crouched in front of a blue backdrop, neighborhood businesses, and protestors that proclaim that “housing is a right, not a privilege.” They occupy a significant place in the gallery, well lit by the lights above and by Pinder’s artwork.

This current collection of artwork is both a study of medical anthropology and abstraction, leaving me with more questions than answers about how to value my own body and keep it from violation and degradation. Robles-Gordon’s confrontation of the past in the Nicholson Project’s rehabilitated space is a meaningful way to combat a culture that dissects and disseminates the bodies of Black and brown women, cutting deep until there is nothing left.

 


 

Admission to the Nicholson Project is free, but visitors need to make an appointment at info@thenicholsonproject.com to gain access outside of public event times. Exhibitions on view through the end of 2019.

Photos by Anne Kim / courtesy of the artist

 

Available artwork by AMBER ROBLES-GORDON

Contact:
Morton Fine Art
52 O St NW #302
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 628-2787
mortonfineart@gmail.com

Morton Fine Art exhibits MICHAEL BOOKER & AMBER ROBLES-GORDON at Prizm Art Fair 2019

25 Nov

 

Morton Fine Art at Prizm Art Fair this December during Miami Art Week
December 2 – 8, 2019

Prizm Art Fair
Morton Fine Art – Booth 3
Alfred I. DuPont Building
169 East Flagler St.
Miami, Florida

Morton Fine Art will be introducing fine liner ink drawings of MICHAEL BOOKER alongside mixed media artworks by AMBER ROBLES-GORDON.

 

MICHAEL BOOKER, Show Me the Wisdom In Your Movements, 2019, 30″x22″, fineliner pen, watercolor and collage on paper and Yupo

Available Artwork by MICHAEL BOOKER

 

 

 

AMBER ROBLES-GORDON, Their Eyes of God, 2018, 36″x36″, ink drawing and collage on paper

Available Artwork by AMBER ROBLES-GORDON

 

AMBER ROBLES-GORDON is first Artist in Residence at DC’s The Nicholson Project

12 Sep
A room in 2310 Nicholson.

Linen & Lens

On the outside, it looks like any other single-family rowhouse in the District. But 2310 Nicholson Street SE will soon be opening up as a project unique to the street and rare for the city: a residency for artists, with a community garden in an adjacent lot tended by the neighborhood.

“[I’m interested in] looking at where you have rapid change in urban settings and how you can utilize a place to harness creative energy and build a revitalized community in a really inclusive way,” says Stephanie Reiser, a developer in the city who owns 2310 Nicholson and founded the artist residency. “My guess is that the artists who find us will have a great familiarity with this type of work.”

Reiser has christened the venture the Nicholson Project. It will have its opening event on September 14 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., featuring several art installations, a studio tour, and performances by East River Jazz, DJ Jahsonic, and Hirshhorn ARTLAB. (The event is free, and you can RSVP here). The gallery is also open for viewing by appointment through October 26. The project joins already-established art venues east of the river like Honfleur Gallery, Congress Heights Arts and Culture Center, and Anacostia Arts Center.

The developer says she started out her career flipping houses, and slowly became more and more concerned with issues of affordability and inclusivity. She debated for a time about what she wanted to do with the property on Nicholson, which she purchased in 2014, knowing only that she wanted to do something associated with “affordability and the arts.” Eventually, she says, it became clear to her that she wanted something more lasting than a one-time art show, for example.

“I want to have a conversation and dialogue around some of these questions of affordability, access, how development is done, and the way the arts and the creative classes can be part of revitalizing and strengthening the social fabric of communities,” Reiser says. “The idea of having a residency really rose to the front of the type of work we wanted to do. An artist residency program would help us to support artists as they advance their career. And it just resonated, it seemed to be the right for for Nicholson.”

The house itself is more restored than renovated, Reiser says, with much of the original architecture left in place. As well as offering installations, she hopes the home will become a community space that groups can use for meetings or anything else they might need. The garden in the adjacent lot, in particular, Reiser imagines as a community resource.

The artists in the residency will receive $2,000 per month and can live and work full-time in the renovated rowhouse, Reiser says. Reiser is currently funding that stipend herself, but has set up a non-profit foundation to raise money for it, she tells DCist. Applications to the residency will open up twice per year—the next round opens on October 1, 2019.

The first artist in residency at the Nicholson Project will be Amber Robles-Gordon, a D.C.-based visual artist who’s had exhibitions in six countries. She’s created public art installations in the region with the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association, Howard University, and other local entities. She hosted a workshop and created an installation for the #ifyoulivedhere project produced by the Pink Line Project and the Anacostia Smithsonian Museum, and has also created installations in Maryland.

Robles-Gordon began her residency in July 2019, and will create a room-sized installation that will debut at the opening of the residency on September 14.

_____________________________

 

Available artwork by AMBER ROBLES-GORDON

 

Morton Fine Art

52 O St NW #302

Washington, DC 20001

(202) 628-2787

http://www.mortonfineart.com

mortonfineart@gmail.com

 

“Starshine and Clay” at Workhouse Arts Center featuring artwork of KESHA BRUCE, MAYA FREELON & AMBER ROBLES-GORDON

15 Feb

Starshine and Clay

February 13 – March 31

Starshine and Clay
On View February 13 – March 31, 2019
Exhibition Reception: March 9, 6:00-8:00pm
McGuireWoods Gallery

DOWNLOAD PRESS RELEASE 

Workhouse Arts Center and Morton Fine Art present the work of  Kesha Bruce, Maya Freelon and Amber Robles Gordon — three women artists exploring ideas of healing power through their lineage of storytelling.

Bruce’s spirit-based use of guardians, African-American folklore and a prophetic mix of abstracted figures and symbols serve as a reminder ‘to fight’ and to bring about change. Freelon’s visual vortex of potent tissue ink monoprints and quilt-like immersive installations welcome the contemplation of our standing ideas of strength and vulnerability. Robles-Gordon’s powerful narrative and the influence of African elemental and spiritual based practices activate bloodline connections and ancestral memories.

With substantive and varied approaches, Bruce, Freelon and Robles-Gordon chart the transcendence of gender, history and preservation, rooting themselves as important and impactful contributors to current social and cultural dialogues.

Morton Fine Art co-curates “Starshine and Clay” at Workhouse Arts Center

7 Feb
KESHA BRUCE, MAYA FREELON & AMBER ROBLES-GORDON
Starshine and Clay
February 13th – March 31st, 2019
Opening Reception
Saturday, March 9th from 6-8pm
EXHIBITION LOCATION
Workhouse Arts Center
2nd Floor – McGuireWoods Gallery
9518 Workhouse Road
Lorton, VA 22079
HOURS
Wednesday – Saturday 11am – 6pm
Sunday 12pm-5pm
About Starshine and Clay
Morton Fine Art and Workhouse Arts Center present the work of Kesha Bruce, Maya Freelon and Amber Robles Gordon — three women artists exploring ideas of healing power through their lineage of storytelling.
Bruce’s spirit-based use of guardians, African-American folklore and a prophetic mix of abstracted figures and symbols serve as a reminder ‘to fight’ and to bring about change. Freelon’s visual vortex of potent tissue ink monoprints and quilt-like immersive installations welcome the contemplation of our standing ideas of strength and vulnerability. Robles-Gordon’s powerful narrative and the influence of African elemental and spiritual based practices activate bloodline connections and ancestral memories.
With substantive and varied approaches, Bruce, Freelon and Robles-Gordon chart the transcendence of gender, history and preservation, rooting themselves as important and impactful contributors to current social and cultural dialogues.
Co-curated by Amy Morton of Morton Fine Art and Jaynelle Clarke Hazard of Workhouse Arts Center.
KESHA BRUCE
Artwork is spiritwork.
When I pray, I ask my ancestors for the bravery to follow and make manifest the deepest truths and longings of my heart. Every artwork I create is an answered prayer.
In this current political and social moment my prayers are especially urgent: Where can Black women feel safe? Where can we feel free? How do we protect our spirits from those who mean to destroy us?
As an artist, these questions always lead me back to my work.  In my experience, the most powerful weapon for spiritual warfare is joy. I’m not being hyperbolic when I tell you that the process of making artwork has saved my life many, many times. Art is a refuge for the spirit. It offers us a way to understand and heal ourselves. I am of the mind that something absolutely prophetic can be revealed in both the act of making and the act of looking at art.
Art objects embody spiritual power.
I believe this so firmly now, that it seems almost surreal to think back to a time, not so long ago, when I was afraid to speak about my work in spiritual terms for fear of being called less serious or less intellectually rigorous. It’s clear to me now that often our fears show us the parts of ourselves that are desperately waiting to be revealed. To be set free.
So, I present this new work with the firm knowledge that what I am creating is an important and worthy contribution to the current cultural dialogue. More importantly, I consider my work a part of a strategy for resistance. Even as we steel ourselves for battle ahead, we must remember to leave room for joy.
Joy is sacred and so it is worth fighting for.
Remember to fight.
-KESHA BRUCE
SELECTED COLLECTIONS
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (14 pieces), Washington, DC
The Amistad Center for Art and Culture, Hartford, CT
The Museum of Modern Art, Franklin FurnaceArtist Book Collection, New York, NY
The University of Iowa Women’s Center, Iowa City, IA
The En Foco Photography Collection, New York, NY
The Museum of Modern Art/Franklin FurnaceArtist Book Collection, New York, NY
photo credit: Christopher Charles
MAYA FREELON
Maya Freelon is an award-winning visual artist whose work was described by the late poet Maya Angelou as “visualizing the truth about the vulnerability and power of the human being.” Cosmopolitan Magazine featured her in June 2015 in “Art Stars” calling her one “of the most badass female artists in the biz.”  She was commissioned by Google to design original art for their OnHub router, by Cadillac to create a live-sculpture for their Dare Greatly creative campaign, and by the North Carolina Museum of Art to create a collaborative tissue paper sculpture celebrating the opening of their African Art wing. Her unique tissue paper art, praised by the International Review of African American Art as “a vibrant, beating assemblage of color,” has been exhibited internationally, including shows in Paris, Jamaica, Madagascar, and Italy. She was selected by Modern Luxury Magazine as Best of the City; by Huffington Post as “Black Artists: 30 Contemporary Art Makers Under 40 You Should Know”; and by Complex magazine as “15 Young Black   Artists Making Waves in the Art World.”  Maya has completed residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, the Korobitey Institute in Ghana, and the Brandywine Workshop in Philadelphia. She earned a BA from Lafayette College and an MFA from the School of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
COLLECTIONS
U.S. State Department
U.S. Embassy in Madagascar
U.S. Embassy Swaziland
U.S. Embassy Rome
The University of Maryland (David C. Driskell Center)
Johns Hopkins University
Rocketship Rise Academy;
The Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists
The Reginald F. Lewis Museum
The School of the Museum of Fine Arts The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Lafayette College
The Brandywine Workshop
The Experimental Printmaking Institute
The Williston Northampton School
The Kokrobitey Institute
Lewis Tanner Moore
Dr. Maya Angelou
AMBER ROBLES-GORDON
My artwork is a visual representation of my hybridism: a fusion of my gender, ethnicity, cultural, and social experiences. I impose colors, imagery, and materials that evoke femininity and tranquility with the intent of transcending or balancing a specific form. I associate working with light, color, and energy as a positive means to focus on the healing power found in the creative process and within us all. It is my belief that colors have both feminine and masculine energies and each color represents a specific aspect of nature.
-Amber Robles Gordon
COLLECTIONS
Judith A. Hoffberg Archive Library
University of California, Santa Barbara, CA
Masterpiece Miniature Art Exhibition, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Capital One Bank, Mc Clean,Virginia
District of Columbia’s Art Bank, Washington, D.C.
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, NY
The Gautier Family Collection, Washington, DC
About Workhouse Arts Center
Workhouse Arts Center is a Virginia not-for-profit corporation that was created for planning, developing and fundraising a self- sustaining arts space. The primary goal has been and remains the renovation, preservation and reuse of the former District of Columbia Complex’s Workhouse facilities. Officially transitioned from the District of Columbia Prison Complex to Workhouse Arts Center in 2008, the organization now sits on 55-acres of land surrounded by rolling hills, featuring 4 main gallery spaces, near 100 artist studios and hosts an array of arts education courses, festivals and theatre performances.
About Morton Fine Art
Founded in 2010 in Washington, DC, Morton Fine Art (MFA) is a fine art gallery and curatorial group that collaborates with art collectors and visual artists to inspire fresh ways of acquiring contemporary art. Firmly committed to the belief that anyone can become an art collector or enthusiast, MFA’s mission is to provide accessibility to museum-quality contemporary art through a combination of substantive exhibitions and a welcoming platform for dialogue and exchange of original voice.

Hyperallergic, Prizm and Morton Fine Art’s Osi Audu and Amber Robles-Gordon

11 Dec

ART

In Miami, a Fair for Artists from Africa and the African Diaspora Shines Again

The Prizm Art Fair, which consistently shows great work, has finally been given the room to breathe.

Charo Oquet, "Like an arrow, like a tree, like a mountain" (2018), mixed media-installation (image courtesy the artist)
Charo Oquet, “Like an arrow, like a tree, like a mountain” (2018), mixed media-installation (image courtesy the artist)

MIAMI — Construction of the Alfred I. duPont Building was completed in 1939, when its primary tenant was the Florida National Bank. I have been there three times in the last two years — once to see Trina perform on an old vault for a Borscht Film Festival party, then for an anticlimactic ghost tour, and last night, for Prizm Art Fair. The space is sweeping and beautiful and very appropriate for Prizm — a fair that consistently shows great work in spaces that never did it justice. It always shone through, but here, in this building, with all its breadth and light, the feeling was a sigh of relief. Work like this needs space. Room to breathe.

Left: Patrick Quarm, “Dada,” oil paint, African print, 33 x 34 1/4 inches; Right: “Mama ba,” oil paint, African print fabric on canvas, 42 x 32 1/2 inches (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

Now in its sixth edition, Prizm features talks, performances, and 63 artists across several participating galleries and three specifically curated sections. Dr. Jeffreen M. Hayes’s section, The Diaspora Currency: Black Women, focuses on work by or featuring black women, a means of centering their voices as valuable, actual currency. That’s a real through-line in the fair: reparations, or that which is reparative. Curative. Transforming the forces of capitalism and white supremacy into systems and imaginaries that empower those forced to live under it. “Renegotiation,” says Mikhaile Solomon, Prizm’s founder.

Jamele Wright, “In Transit Number 9” (2018), on display at September Gray (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

Solomon has curated her own section, The Dark Horse, which refers to the archetype of the same name — the unforeseen visitor, or here, powerful retaliation. She’s included work like Dáreece J. Walker’s charcoal drawings of die-ins, entitled “The Die-Ins: Can I live” (2018), and a video of Dread Scott’s 2010 performance, “Money to Burn,” in which he burned $250 on Wall Street and invited traders to do the same. Nearby, in the gallery section, Tahir Carl Karmali’s draped raffia robes shine with inlaid cobalt — your phone battery is probably made with it, and a child might’ve mined it. There’s a cost to these hard truths, and one for learning them: willful suspension of disbelief. But knowledge can be reclamation, too.

Christa Davis, "When the Smoke Clears" (2018) (image courtesy the artist and TILA Studios Gallery)
Christa David, “When the Smoke Clears” (2018) (image courtesy the artist and TILA Studios Gallery)

The work at Prizm also channels the spirit of embodiment — the literal, manifested act of being fully inside one’s body. Presence, people call it. Reimagining the self is some form of transformation as well; it’s everywhere at Prizm: Osi Audu’s graphite self-portraits that look like voids, their sheen a suggestion of what’s inside. Amber Robles-Gordon’s works that look like mandalas, decorated with her belongings — cowrie shells, jewels — and entrail-like snakes. Adriana Farmiga’s watercolor acrylic nails, painted rainbow-pastel. Jamele Wright’s big, gorgeous tapestries of fabric, repeated patterns — a reference to the mingling of identities, recycling, even in hip-hop — and red dirt from the earth.

Osi Audu, “Self Portrait after Dogon Bird Mask II” (2018), graphite and pastel on paper mounted on canvas, 15 x 22 inches (image courtesy the artist and Morton Fine Art)
Amber Robles-Gordon, “South and of the Fire” (2016), mixed media on canvas, 34 x 35 inches (image courtesy the artist and Morton Fine Art)

The artist William Cordova curated the third section: Transceivers: channels, outlets and forces. It’s the first you see, and the one I went to last. Experiencing Prizm in a circle — in a cycle — feels right, because the works speak to each other, and the conversation is continuous. Ritual is prominent in Cordova’s section, specifically the ritual of transmitting history, maybe rewriting it. Khaulah Naima Nuruddin’s graphite drawings of Eatonville homes, intimate and distant from the very paper they’re portrayed on, reference the formerly all-black town in Orlando.

Purvis Young at William Cordova’s Transceivers: channels, outlets and forces, installation view (image by Victoria Ravelo)

Prizm’s video works were my favorite of all. Ezra Wube’s animated video, “Hidirtina/ Sisters” (2018), in Solomon’s section, is part of a story collection Wube started in 2004, when he sent out an open call for folklore to a Habesha diaspora community in New York City. His animation is based on a volunteer’s short story, which centers on a group of seven immortal sisters, one  of who falls in love with a hunter. Against the sisters’ warning, he murders a deer, whose sudden listlessness is rendered slowly; his beloved instructs him to climb a tree to protect himself from subsequent cosmic retaliation. Onajide Shabaka’s one-minute “Henry Meade Leighton 1881” (2018), located in Cordova’s section, tells the story of a man’s body, discovered in a river, covered in the muck of swamps. Though his pockets were “officially said to be empty,” says the narrator, “a woven knot of long, black hair was found … inside one pocket of his overalls. Some said, a naked woman of light complexion with long black hair, had been seen swimming in the area. But every search for her ended with no evidence of the woman being found.”

Tahir Carl Karmali, “STRATA I,” raffia, cobalt, oxide, copper and aluminum, 69 x 52 inches (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

The body of the earth is, I think, another thread in Prizm — its ills and treasures, its destruction, the way its losses mirror human loss, the way it grows, enchants, and flourishes anyway.

Prizm Art Fair continues at the Alfred I. DuPont Building (169 East Flagler Street, Miami) through December 9.