Tag Archives: Kesha Bruce

Preview of Morton Fine Art’s Booth at Prizm Art Fair in Miami

29 Nov

 

 

Sneak Preview of Morton Fine Art’s Booth at Prizm Art Fair in Miami
Contact the gallery for complimentary passes.
Morton Fine Art will be closed 12/5-12/8 during our time in Miami, however we are available by phone (202) 628-2787 or mortonfineart@gmail.com if you need to reach us!
OSI AUDU
THE TANGIBLE AND INTANGIBLE
I explore the light sheen of graphite, the matte, light absorbing quality of black pastel, the white of paper and canvas, as well as the visually affecting interactions of colors to investigate form and its evocative potential to suggest or hint at something about the shape of the head. I am interested in the dualism of form and void, and the ontological relation between the tangible and intangible, something and nothing, light and dark, body and mind, the dual nature of being – the self in portraits.
The construction of a sense of self is a very complex process, perhaps even more so in our increasingly global age, in which the boundaries between race, nationality, gender and sexuality are getting more and more blurred. I am interested in issues of self identity, and in concepts of the self rooted in my cultural experiences growing up in Nigeria, as well as global metaphysical, scientific, and social concepts of the self. There is a Yoruba thought that consciousness, referred to as the “head”, has both a physical dimension called the “outer head” and a non-physical one: “the inner head”. It is the visual implications of concepts like this that I find intriguing. The title, Self-Portrait, in my work, is more about the portrait of the intangible self, rather than a literal portrait of the artist. – OSI AUDU
COLLECTIONS
Smithsonian Museum of African Art
The Newark Museum
The British Museum
Horniman Museum
Wellcome Trust Gallery
OSI AUDU, Self-Portrait after Dogon Bird Mask II, 2018, 15″x22″, graphite and pastel on paper mounted on canvas
OSI AUDU, Self Portrait after Igbo Mask, 2018, 11″x15″, acrylic on canvas
KESHA BRUCE
KESHA BRUCE, The Sky Opened for Her, 2016, 60″x48″, mixed media on canvas
KESHA BRUCE, Fight Fire with Fire, 2017, 40″x30″, mixed media on canvas
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 Furnace Artist 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 Furnace Artist Book Collection, New York, NY
NATHANIEL DONNETT
African textiles, Gee’s Bend Quilts, and the everyday aesthetic within
the historic African American neighborhoods of Houston, Texas inspire “Boom”. This
work acts as a reminder to the extrinsic value of these neighborhoods through the
lens of its spatial geography and relationship to gentrification, along with objects
and form in terms of cultural iconography, and the everyday aesthetic. Drum
notations and Houston’s hip-hop car culture formulate the abstract patterns. These
patterns act as a response to the marginalization of Black American identity, the black spatial imaginary, and contemporary art. During the times of American slavery, it was said that southern quilts communicated warnings to the slaves.
Although this was found to be a myth, this contemporary makeshift quilt does
communicate moments of neighborhood erasure and the silencing of its cultural
contributions. It also simultaneously celebrates the neighborhood’s cultural socio-
consciousness and overall complexity.
-NATHANIEL DONNETT
MUSEUM EXHIBITIONS
The Ulrich Museum, Wichita, KS
The McColl Center, Charlotte, NC
The American Museum, Washington, DC
The Kemper Contemporary Arts Museum, Kansas City, MO
The Theresa Hotel, Harlem, NY
Harvey B Gantt Art Center for African American Arts and Culture, Charlotte, NC
The Community Artist’s Collective
The Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury CT
The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX
Project Row Houses, Houston, TX
The University Museum, Houston, TX
The New Museum, New York, NY
NATHANIEL DONNETT, Boom, 2018, 40″x46″, duct tape, plastic and photographs on paper
VICTOR EKPUK
VICTOR EKPUK, Head 4, 2015, 45″x48″, acyrlic on panel
VICTOR EKPUK, Mask Series 1, 2018, 24″x18″, acrylic on canvas
Victor Ekpuk is a Nigerian-American artist based in Washington, DC.
His art, which began as an exploration of nsibidi “traditional” graphics and writing systems in Nigeria, has evolved to embrace a wider spectrum of meaning that is rooted in African and global contemporary art discourses.
Guided by the aesthetic philosophy nsibidi, where sign systems are used to convey ideas, Ekpuk re-imagines graphic symbols from diverse cultures to form a personal style of mark making that results in the interplay of art and writing.
Ekpuk’s art reflects his experiences as a global artist. “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” -Victor Ekpuk
COLLECTIONS
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Smithsonian Museum of African Art
Brooks Museum
Krannert Art Museum
Arkansas Art Center
Fidelity Investments
Newark Museum
The World Bank
University of Maryland University College Art Collection
The U. S. Department of State
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 theSchool 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
photo credit: Christopher Charles
MAYA FREELON, Compression, 2017, 44″x34″, tissue ink monoprint
MAYA FREELON, Intuition, 2017, 46″x44″, tissue ink monoprint
AMBER ROBLES-GORDON
AMBER ROBLES-GORDON, Awakening the Matrilineal: Calling in the West, 36″x36″, mixed media on canvas
AMBER ROBLES-GORDON, Awakening the Matrilineal: South and of the Fire, 2016, 34″x35″, mixed media on canvas
Awakening the Matrilineal
“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
NATE LEWIS
In continuing my work with black figures I sculpt in unseen tensions of the past present and future on bodies with the idea of utilizing diagnostic lenses and contrast dyes to reveal erased and unknown histories and patterns.
Through the use of presence, absence, distortion and illusion and while in a time when the digital world has severe control of our information feeds I aim to challenge our lens’, the powers that hold our attention, and create opportunities for questioning and perspective alteration.
In my time working as a critical care nurse, we would use a multitude of lenses to gain a broad understanding of what is going on with any given situation to find homeostasis. While facts and diagnostic information can inform us of any given situation, without empathy and perspective alteration, our hearts will remain unchanged.
– NATE LEWIS
Nate Lewis grew up in Beaver Falls, near Pittsburgh, Pa. He graduated from VCU with his BSN and was a practicing critical care nurse for five years as well as professional fine artist. He has been awarded prestigious residencies at Pioneer Works and Dieu Donne in NYC, Agora Culture on Martha’s Vineyard and won a number of artist fellowship grants from the DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities.
NATE LEWIS, Spirit Suite, 2018, 21.5″x26″, hand sculpted photo paper print
NATE LEWIS, Traverse Suite, 2018, 26″x26″, hand sculpted photo paper print
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.
Morton Fine Art
52 O St NW #302
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 628-2787
For further information and images, please contact Amy Morton:
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Morton Fine Art participates in Prizm Art Fair in Miami December 3 – 9, 2018

16 Oct

 

Prizm Art Fair 2018
December 3rd – December 9th | Open Daily: 10 am – 6 pm
PRIZM is the producer of a cutting-edge cultural platform that is multidisciplinary in scope. Our goal is to expand the spectrum of exhibiting international artists from the African Diaspora and emerging markets.
Our mission is to promote the work of artists from Africa and global African Diaspora, who reflect global trends in contemporary art. Workshops and special events are organized throughout the year to advance critical dialogue and sharpen the lens through which we view and understand contemporary art. We are committed to the Miami cultural community and will work to expand its visual arts landscape, nurture and educate its constituents and provide forums for cross cultural exchange.
Prizm exhibits a dynamic group or contemporary artists during Art Basel/Miami Beach and beyond. Salient works are presented that highlight the diversity evident in contemporary visual art practices today, including painting sculpture and mixed media installations.
Morton Fine Art will be featuring the artwork of internationally renowned contemporary artists OSI AUDU, KESHA BRUCE, VICTOR EKPUK, MAYA FREELON, AMBER ROBLES-GORDON and NATE LEWIS.

KESHA BRUCE’s “Sacred Liberation” at Waaw Residency, Saint-Louis, Senegal

18 May

Enjoy these photos of KESHA BRUCE’s opening reception for “Sacred Liberation” during her Waaw Residency in Senegal in May 2018. Among many new sources of inspiration, Kesha’s fascination with the baobab tree became magically obsessive. The artist describes:

The Baobab is the national tree of Senegal. I’d never heard of it until @kasiazudou sent me a picture of one that’s been carbon dated to be more than 6000 years old. I saw my first Baobab on my drive to Saint-Louis. They are absolutely eerie and otherworldly. I later found out they’re both feared and venerated for their magical abilities. I’ve been obsessed ever since.
Almost every tribe has a legend about the Baobab. In ancient times elders and community leaders would hold meetings under the baobabs so that the ancestors and spirits who live in the Baobab would guide them to make wise decisions.
And until recently, Griots, living historians who are keepers of historical records across generations, were buried inside Baobab trees.”

KESHA BRUCE, VICTOR EKPUK & AMBER ROBLES GORDON speak at James A Porter Colloquium on African American Art – 2018 Schedule

8 Mar

WASHINGTON DC | HOWARD UNIVERSITY APRIL 6 – 8, 2018

Kesha Bruce, I Am A Black Ocean. 2017.  48 x 36 in Mixed-Media on Canvas.

The 29th Annual James A. Porter Colloquium on African American Art and Art of the African Diaspora

The 2018 Porter Colloquium, titled “Abstraction: Form, Philosophy, & Innovation,” will explore topics related to the history of abstraction in art across the African diaspora. It will offer a platform for new scholarship and artistic perspectives on abstract art by African American and African diasporic artists.

This colloquium will trace the progression and aesthetic influence of African art to figurative and non-objective abstraction. Another significant goal of the event is to investigate how artists use abstraction in terms design, innovation, and the introduction of new epistemologies by way of visual culture.

Among other notable presenters, the 29th Porter Colloquium will showcase Chakaia Booker, Valerie Cassel Oliver, Mary Lovelace O’Neal and Fred Eversly.

2018 PROGRAM

 

April 6th Day 1

10:30 Opening Remarks

Day Moderator: Melani Douglass, Director of Public Programing, National Museum for Women in the Arts

11:00-11:50 Opening Lecture: “Freedom / Expression / Abstraction”

Nikki A. Greene, Assistant Professor of Art, Wellesley College

11:50-12:00 Q&A

12:00-12:50 LUNCH ON YOUR OWN

1:00-2:00 Collaboration from the Smithsonian’s American Art Journal: Washington Modernism and the Exhibition of Works by Negro Artists (1933)

“Toward a History of Washington Modernism: The 1933 Display of African American Art at the Smithsonian National Museum”

Charles Brock, National Gallery of Art – “Negro Artist exhibitions at the National Gallery, 1929-1933”

Michèle Gates Moresi, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture – “Herring, Porter, and Locke’s Perspectives on the 1933 exhibition”

Tobias Wofford, Virginia Commonwealth University – “How Children Became Modern: The Place of Students in the Exhibition of Works by Negro Artists and in Interwar Washington”

Seth Feman, Chrysler Museum of Art – “From Newspapers to Networks: Broadcasting Art of African Americans in the Nation’s Capital”

John A. Tyson, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Moderator: Tuliza Fleming, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Organizer: Robin Veder, Smithsonian American Art Museum

2:00-2:15 Q&A

2:15-2:35 New Photographic Histories Presentation

Romi Crawford, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Visual and Critical Studies, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

2:35-3:20 Curator’s Panel: Curating African American Abstract Art

 

  • Kevin Tervala, Associate Curator of African Art, Department Head, Arts of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific Islands, Baltimore Museum of Art
  • George N’Namdi, Founder, N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art
  • Evelyn Hankins, Senior Curator, Hirshhorn Museum

 

Panel Moderator: TBD

3:20-3:30 Q&A

3:30-4:00 New Art Histories of the African Diaspora Lecture

  • Freida High W. Tesfagiorgis, PhD, Evjue-Bascom Professor Emerita, Department of Afro-American Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison

 

4:00-4:45 Concerning the Practice of Diaspora Artist Panel

  • Kesha Bruce
  • Victor Ekpuk
  • Representative from the editorial team of MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora

Panel Moderator: Lanisa S. Kitchiner, Ph.D., Head of Education and Scholarly Initiatives, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution

4:45-5:00 Q&A

5:00 Floyd Coleman Lecture – Chakaia Booker 

“Back Ground Check”

6:30-8:30   Howard University Faculty Exhibition Reception, Howard University Blackburn Gallery

April 7th Day II

10:30 Opening Remarks

Day Moderator: Jessica Stafford Davis, Founder, The Agora Culture

11:00-11:15 New Media Artist Talk – Adrian Loving

11:15-12:15 New Art Histories Scholars Panel

  • Zoma Wallace, MFA, Curator, DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities
  • Melissa Messina, Independent Curator & The Mildred Thompson Legacy Project
  • LeRonn P. Brooks, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Africana Studies, Lehman College, CUNY

Panel Moderator: TBD

12:15-12:30 Q&A

12:30-1:15 LUNCH ON YOUR OWN

1:30-1:40 The Impact of Edward Spriggs

  • Margo N. Crawford, Ph.D., Professor of English, Department of English, University of Pennsylvania

1:45-2:15 Recalling a Legacy of Innovation: Defining the Frontiers of American Abstraction Artist Reflection

  • Reflection by Mary Lovelace O’Neal
  • Fred Eversley

2:15-3:15 Artist Panel: Materiality and Space

  • James Maurelle
  • Amber Robles-Gordon
  • Gregory Coates

Panel Moderator:  Margo N. Crawford, Ph.D., Professor of English, Department of English, University of Pennsylvania

3:15-3:25 Q&A

3:30-4:15 James A. Porter Lecture

  • Valerie Cassel Oliver, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

4:15-4:45 Trajectories Innovation Lecture – Torkwase Dyson

Closing Remarks

**Tentative Program open to minor adjustments.

Saturday Evening: GALA, Blackburn Ballroom

Gala Honorees

Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Two-Dimensional: Mary Lovelace O’Neal
  • Three-Dimensional: Fred Eversley

Humanitarian Award

  • Edward Spriggs

James A. Porter Book Award

  • Valerie Cassel Oliver
April 8th Day III

April 8 – Sunday

Studio Visit: Reginald Pointer, Associate Professor, Ceramics, Howard University

KESHA BRUCE’s iconic (Re)calling & (Re)telling series featured in Rethinking Schools

8 Nov

Congratulations to Morton Fine Art’s KESHA BRUCE for having four images from her iconic (Re)calling & (Re)telling photo series featured in “Black is Beautiful” by Kara Hinderlie in Rethinking Schools!

 

 

 

Click HERE to view available artwork by KESHA BRUCE.

 

 

 

MARTINA DODD on Black History Month

25 Feb

In 1926, historian Carter G Woodson along with other prominent leaders from the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) sponsored the first Negro History Week. Negro History Week, sought to promote the teachings of Black American legacy and achievement, especially in the nation’s public schools and universities.  This seven day celebration during the second week of February was later officially extended to a month long holiday by President Ford in 1976.

Much has happened in this country since 1926, Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, the first Black President was elected twice and the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened its doors.  As we use this month as an opportunity  to honor the central role of African Americans  within US history, we must also remember to salute those who are now actively creating their own legacy.  We at Morton Fine Art acknowledge and prioritize the advancements made by African Americans within this country, and applaud and thank artists, activists and educators who have made it a goal to do so within their practice.  Artists such as Maya Freelon Asante, Kesha Bruce and Nathaniel Donnett who continually use their artistic medium to preserve and highlight the stories of African Americans.

past_present_tense-webMAYA FREELON ASANTE, Past Tense Present, 2015, 8.5”x18″, tissue ink mono/photo print

Inspired by her discovery of a stack of water-soaked colored paper in her grandmother’s  basement, Freelon Asante’s tissue ink mono photo prints speak to the power of  familial history, connected-ness and renewal.  Bruce,  who also found inspiration from a grandparent’s belongings,  reconceptualizes  the Black American experience in her photo series (Re) Calling  & (Re) Telling,  through  old and damaged negatives  given to her by her grandfather. Bruce’s and Freelon Asante’s use of archival images to explore the connections between personal mythologies and collective memory both help to re-center the black family unit within the American narrative.

that-they-might-be-lovely-webKESHA BRUCE, That They Might Be Lovely, 12″x9″, archival pigment print, edition of 15

Nathaniel Donnett’s work articulates the complex cultural concerns of a “united nation” still divided by racial tension.  In his Small Bag series, Donnett makes reference to the “paper bag test” and its South African equivalent the  “pencil test,” (two tests used to distinguish a person’s racial identity and/or their ability to “pass” as white) while prompting his viewers to take a four question test of their own that relate to acceptable beauty standards, microaggressions and racial biases. By asking his audience to finish statements like;  “Good hair can be A) Kinky B) Straight C) Wavy D) All of the above,” he brings to light America’s  legacy of racism, colorism and its obsession with classification.

smallbag18-cropNATHANIEL DONNETT, Small Bag 18, 10.75″x5″ graphite, charcoal and printed ink on paper
bag

Although Black History Month is quickly coming to a close, we should continue to support these artists as they maintain their dedication in keeping the  stories of our ancestors alive.

-MARTINA DODD for Morton Fine Art, February 2017

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.”