Tag Archives: Black Collagists

LISA MYERS BULMASH in The Seattle Times

20 Mar

This artist was chosen to represent Seattle in a docuseries on art in America

March 17, 2021 at 6:00 am Updated March 18, 2021 at 11:15 am

Artist Lisa Myers Bulmash works on an altered book in 2015 during Everett’s Fresh Paint Festival of Artists at Work. (Darrell Scattergood)

By Crystal Paul Seattle Times features reporter

After a monthlong social media contest run by the Northwest African American Museum to select a local Black artist to represent Seattle in a docuseries, the museum announced the winner Monday: Seattle-based visual artist Lisa Myers Bulmash

Seattle community members nominated over 40 local Black artists to participate in the contest and voted for their favorites on social media.

For the series, titled “The Story of Art in America,” Pierre Gervois, show creator and CEO and executive producer of Legit Productions, will visit 10 different U.S. cities with his team, highlighting artists and museums in each locale. Each episode features one city. The series currently has a release date of late 2021 or early 2022, on networks to be announced.

“I’m pretty floored honestly,” said Myers Bulmash, still giddy a few hours after hearing that she won. 

A collage and assemblage artist, Myers Bulmash has lived in Seattle for 23 years and says her work is about making sure the stories and experiences of Black people are seen and heard, and showing the many connections between our past and present. 

We caught up with Myers Bulmash to learn more about the artist, how she feels about representing Seattle, and her own “story of art.”

 Detail view of “2,100 Miles Away” niche: The niche layers an image of a Victorian-era home beneath a transparency of a child… (Bellevue Fine Art Reproduction)

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

How did you come to be doing the kind of work you’re doing?

I really started taking my work seriously sometime after Trayvon Martin was killed and then again after Tamir Rice was killed, because they were both very young. It’s hard to say which one hurt me more. The reason why was because I really started connecting these things to my own life. I have two sons — one just turned 16 and one is 12, which was the age that Tamir Rice was when he was shot. My husband and I used to joke that people who might hate us would have multiple reasons to hate our kids, because my husband is Jewish and I’m Black. Around 2012 and 2014, when Tamir was killed, was when it really settled into the pit of my stomach that my children were at risk just by being who they were. That got me thinking more seriously about the vulnerability of Black bodies. It got me thinking more seriously about my family history and genealogy and the stories that I’ve learned from that. 

What is the purpose of art right now, when people are experiencing loss and trauma?

My reasons for making art especially in this time are primarily two things. One, to let people who look like me, people who have a history like me, people who are marginalized, know that they’re not alone, because for the last four years, it’s felt like that was about all we could do is say, “I’m still here. Are you still here? Yes, I’m still here.” 

The other reason is partly representation. I don’t really think of me making work as part of a grand crusade to right the wrongs and uplift the downtrodden, but it’s important for people to be seen, to feel seen, to be heard, and a lot of the things I’m interested in showing in my work have to do with that. I also just want to throw a little of the unusual or magical into somebody’s life. The last four years, a lot of us have just been putting one foot in front of the other. As a kid, I was always really big on the idea of there being magic just around the corner. 

How did little Lisa first get into art? What were the magical moments that made you believe that “magic was just around the corner”? 

I remember asking for an oil painting kit for my birthday when I was a kid, maybe 12 years old. It was after I had gone through the encyclopedia — you know, those things we had before the internet — and just being wowed by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci and so many others. I said, “Oh, I want to learn how to paint with oil paints!” My folks got me that for my birthday and I was really excited. I didn’t know a thing about it, so, of course, everything came out brownish gray. [Laughs.] So that was a big disappointment. But one of the things I love about collage is that even if I can’t draw like da Vinci, I can borrow his art to create something. I think I’m most excited when somebody connects with a piece of my work and wants to dig around and find more, wants to talk to me about some of the inspirations behind it or the processes I used. But mostly asking more about the images and why I use them. 

How are you drawing those communication lines between past and present?

I pack a lot into my pieces. I have a friend who said this in the kindest way possible. She said, “Your work is sometimes too content-rich for the average bear.” That may be why most of my work is relatively intimately scaled as opposed to the big wall-sized paintings that you might see in a Mickalene Thomas painting. I think in most of my work I have a limited amount of time to reach the person who’s interested in it, and I’m probably talking about something they don’t really want to think about. So I need to get their attention, I need to hold it, and I need to sort of cut them off from everything else that might distract them in order to tell the story. 

That’s a lot of pressure. [Laughs.]

Try being Black someday. [Laughs.] Look at the [artwork] “Bought and Paid For” — books that are mounted on antique washboards. With this triptych in particular I was thinking about a quote that’s been attributed to James Baldwin and Maya Angelou: “Your crown has been bought and paid for. Put it on and wear it.” When I was thinking about that quote, I was thinking about all the sacrifices and the difficult choices and the walking a tightrope that my parents and everybody before them have had to walk in order to get me where I am. [In the “Bought and Paid For” triptych], all of the altered books have a transparency image from my family archive of my brother running into the house we grew up in. I laid that image over various images of houses or things that aren’t anything like houses. The one on the far left is laid over a slave auction house, which obviously is not really a house. The center one is an altered version of the house my mother grew up in. The third one is the house that I started my family in. 

This contest was pitched as: You will be representing “the soul and DNA of Black art in Seattle.” What does that mean to you? How do you feel about that?

When I saw that I was like, “Oh my god, you’ve got to be kidding me.” I’m not representing every last person, I’m not representing every last Black person, I’m not representing every last Black female artist. I’m not representing every last Black woman. It’s a lot to pack into one statement. So at first I was a little wary. Black people are not a monolith. I have to think about the DNA and soul of my Black art in Seattle. 

And what is that?

One is, “Hey. Hey! HEY! We’re here! And we didn’t get here five minutes ago.” Partially representation. Partially trying to pull back and see how so many things that seem completely disconnected are actually connected either through history or art or perception. I actually had somebody say to me not too long ago that they liked my work but they didn’t understand why I was using old images to talk about contemporary issues. My response was, more or less, “Well, because all of those things are still happening, for one thing.” 

What should people know about you and your work?

Some of the things I talk about are kind of hard to face, but I try to make work that allows people to face those things, yet still be able to live with my work. I guess my work is, um, living-room-friendly? [Laughs.] As for me, I’m just out here doing my thing and hoping I can convince some people to help me continue doing my thing.

Correction: This story has been updated. Due to incorrect information received by The Seattle Times, a previous version of this story contained erroneous information about the release date and network of the show. 

Available Artwork by LISA MYERS BULMASH

Morton Fine Art

52 O St NW #302

Washington, DC 20001

(202) 628-2787 (call or text)

info@mortonfineart.com

http://www.mortonfineart.com

3 Questions Digital Series with Kesha Bruce – U.S. Department of State, Art in Embassies

18 Mar

Kesha Bruce’s work explores the complex connections between history, personal mythology, and magical-spiritual belief in the African diaspora.

Born and raised in Iowa, she completed a BFA from the University of Iowa before earning an MFA in painting from Hunter College in New York City. Kesha Bruce has been awarded fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), The Vermont Studio Center, The CAMAC Foundation, and received a Puffin Foundation Grant for her work with Artist’s Books. Her work is included in the collections of The Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture,The Amistad Center for Art and Culture, The University of Iowa Women’s Center, The En Foco Photography Collection, and MOMA’s Franklin Furnace Artist Book Collection.

For over five decades, Art in Embassies (AIE) has played a leading role in U.S. public diplomacy through a focused mission of vital cross-cultural dialogue and understanding through the visual arts and dynamic artist exchange. The Museum of Modern Art first envisioned this global visual arts program in 1953, and President John F. Kennedy formalized it at the U.S. Department of State in 1963. Today, Art in Embassies is an official visual arts office within the U.S. Department of State, engaging over 20,000 participants globally, including artists, museums, galleries, universities, and private collectors. It encompasses over 200 venues in 189 countries.

Professional curators and registrars create and ship about 60 exhibitions per year, and since 2000, over 70 permanent collections have been installed in the Department’s diplomatic facilities throughout the world. Art in Embassies fosters U.S. relations within local communities world-wide – in the last decade, more than 100 artists have traveled to countries participating in AIE’s exchange programs and collaborated with local artists to produce works now on display in embassies and consulates. Going forward, AIE will continue to engage, educate, and inspire global audiences, showing how art can transcend national borders and build connections among peoples.

http://www.art.state.gov

Available Artwork by KESHA BRUCE

Amber Robles-Gordon discusses her series “The Temples of My Familiars”

17 Mar

Video by Jarrett Hendrix

“The Temples of My Familiars” series is about the intersections between my identity, the diverse visual languages in my artwork and the narratives they reference. The title is most definitely borrowed from the 1989 Alice Walker novel, The Temple of My Familiar. A womanist narrative about several women of color and their evolutionary process to know self, their identity and their struggle for happiness within a patriarchal society. However, I chose the title because of the distinct visual reference my sculptural geometric-like renderings took on once I inverted them. They became temples, a place of spiritual practice and sacrifice in which I could place my familiars —my visual languages. A place where they could be re-rooted, re-formulated, and take on a new life.

Being an artist has facilitated a very specific type of data collection, visual documentation, analysis and a vast array of methods of self-expression and personal exploration regarding issues that concern me. During a recent journey through past work, contemplations, beginnings and endings; I encountered fragments of myself. These fragments vibrated silently, yet continuously, like piercing questions waiting to be answered. The various languages beckoned and bemoaned to be unified. Once combined, the equations gracefully revealed themselves in harmony. Each artwork, 24 x 18 in, mixed media collage, within the series begins with title “The Temples of My Familiars” and then has a distinct sub-title. -AMBER ROBLES-GORDON, 2019

Contact Morton Fine Art for available artwork by AMBER ROBLES-GORDON.

http://www.mortonfineart.com

AMBER ROBLES-GORDON

(Washington, DC b. Puerto Rico)

EDUCATION

2011 M.F.A., Howard University, Washington, D.C.

2005 B.S. in Business Administration, Trinity College, Washington, D.C.

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2021 American University, Katzen Arts Center, Washington, DC

2019 Universidad del Sagrado Corazon, San Juan, Puerto Rico 2018 Washington College, Chestertown, MD

2018 Third Eye Open, Morton Fine Art, Washington, D.C.

2017 At the Altar, Arts Center/Gallery Delaware State University, Dover, DE

2017 Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, Lancaster, PA

2012 Milked, Riverviews Art Space, Lynchberg, Virginia

2012 With Every Fiber of My Being, Honfleur Gallery, Washington, D.C.

2011 Milked, National League of American Penn Woman, Washington, D.C.

2011 Wired, Installation and Exhibit, Pleasant Plains Workshop, Washington, D.C.,

2010 Matrices of Transformation, Michael Platt Studio Gallery, Washington, D.C.

2007 Can You Free Me?, Ramee’ Gallery, Washington, D.C.

1997 The Artwork of A. Robles-Gordon, Dance Place Exhibition Space, Wash., D.C.

1995 The Art, The Brittany, Arlington, VA

COLLECTIONS

Judith A. Hoffberg Archive Library, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA

Masterpiece Miniature Art Exhibition, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Capital One Bank, McLean, VA

District of Columbia’s Art Bank, Washington, DC

Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, NY

The Gautier Family Collection, Washington, DC

Department of General Services, Washington, DC

Martha’s Table, Washington, DC

Democracy Fund, Washington, DC