John L Warfield Center

Past Exhibitions and Events

 March ON!

Janurary 17th - April 15th

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Scheduled to be on view in the Christian-Green Gallery in Spring 2017, March ON! features hand-inked images from the acclaimed graphic memoir, MARCH. Written by US Representative and Civil Rights leader John Lewis with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell, the three-volume series details Lewis’ momentous political life and philosophical commitment to non-violence. The selections in the exhibition cover events from Lewis’ crucial role in the Civil Right struggles of the 1960s, recount personal moments of discovery, and elaborate the non-violent strategies used throughout the Civil Rights Movement.

Poignantly told and artfully rendered, Nate Powell’s illustrations utilize an innovative brush and ink style that evokes the emotional memory of dark times, roaring crowds, and glorious triumphs. Historical photographs and ephemera as well as art of the 1960s that highlights the aesthetic and political significance of the graphic memoir join the original pages.

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JOHN LEWIS is the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s fifth congressional district and an American icon widely known for his role in the civil rights movement.

As a student at American Baptist Theological Seminary in 1959, Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1961, he volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South. He was beaten severely by angry mobs and arrested by police for challenging the injustice of “Jim Crow” segregation in the South. From 1963 to 1966, Lewis was Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). At the age of 23, he was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963. In 1964, John Lewis coordinated SNCC efforts to organize voter registration drives and community action programs during the Mississippi Freedom Summer. Together with Hosea Williams, another notable civil rights leader, John Lewis led over 600 peaceful, orderly protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965. The marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation that became known as “Bloody Sunday.” News broadcasts and photographs revealing the senseless cruelty of the segregated South helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Despite physical attacks, serious injuries, and more than 40 arrests, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence. After leaving SNCC in 1966, he continued to work for civil rights, first as Associate Director of the Field Foundation, then with the Southern Regional Council, where he became Executive Director of the Voter Education Project. In 1977, Lewis was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to direct more than 250,000 volunteers of ACTION, the federal volunteer agency.

In 1981, Lewis was elected to the Atlanta City Council. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 1986 and represented Georgia’s fifth district there ever since. In 2011 he was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. T

Lewis’ 1998 memoir Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement won numerous honors, including the Robert F. Kennedy, Lillian Smith, and Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. His subsequent book, Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change, won the NAACP Image Award.

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ANDREW AYDIN, an Atlanta native, currently serves as Digital Director & Policy Advisor in the Washington, D.C., office of Rep. John Lewis. After learning that his boss had been inspired as a young man by the 1950s comic bookMartin Luther King & The Montgomery Story, Aydin conceived the March series and collaborated with Rep. Lewis to write it, while also composing a master’s thesis on the history and impact of The Montgomery Story. Today, he continues to write comics and lecture about the history of comics in the civil rights movement. Aydin is a graduate of the Lovett School in Atlanta, Trinity 
College in Hartford, and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Visit www.andrewaydin.com for more information.

NATE POWELL is a New York Times best-selling comic book artist/writer born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1978. He began self-publishing at age 14, and graduated from School of Visual Arts in 2000. His work includes You Don’t SayAny EmpireSwallow Me Whole,The Silence of Our FriendsThe Year of the Beasts, and Rick Riordan’s The Lost Hero. Powell’s comics have received such honors as the Eisner Award, two Ignatz Awards, four YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens selections, and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist selection.  In addition to March, Powell has spoken about his work at the United Nations and created animated illustrations for SPLC’s documentarySelma: The Bridge to the Ballot.  Powell is currently writing and drawing his next book, Cover, and drawing Two Deadwith writer Van Jansen. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana. Visit Nate’s website at www.seemybrotherdance.org for more information.


Wrestling History: Points Along a Journey of Dis/covery Hidden in the Temple 

 May 12 - December 9th

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The second exhibition to be displayed in The Christian-Green Gallery, Wrestling History: Points Along a Journey of Dis/covery Hidden in the Temple brings together a diverse selection of Houston and Rotterdam based artist Angelbert Metoyer’s spiritually and politically engaged works, including paintings, sculptural installation, mixed-media collage, and video. Metoyer combines his interest in philosophy, quantum physics, and astronomy with an investigation of identity and mythology, drawing from stories within his own family heritage—the Cane River Creoles of eighteenth-century Louisiana. “My work is often interpreted as being about my own mixed-cultural past and also the cultural complexity of America’s past. Referencing ancient and modern mythologies from all over the world, I explore memory, moment and social changes in human history, examining scientific and philosophical questions about multi-dimensionality, teleportation and M theory (quantum concepts),” says the artist. “The materials I employ include ‘excrements of industry,’ such as coal, glass, oil, tar, mirrors and gold dust. With these tools I explore themes of waste and destruction, and existential issues of life and death.”

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Angelbert Metoyer was born in 1977 in Houston, Texas, and currently lives and works in Houston, Texas and Rotterdam, Netherlands. Metoyer launched his artistic career through Rick Lowe’s Project Row Houses, where he held his first solo exhibition in 1994. He subsequently moved to Atlanta to study drawing and painting at the Atlanta College of Art and, something of a nomad himself, has lived in many parts of the world. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at numerous venues, including The Contemporary Austin (2015); Co-Lab Projects (2015); the Deborah Colton Gallery, Houston (2014, 2012, 2011); Paul Rodgers gallery New York (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006); Giovanni Rossi Gallery, Miami (2009); the African American Museum of Contemporary Art, Dallas (2008); the Dactyl Foundation, New York (2008); and the UC San Diego University Art Gallery, La Jolla (2005). His sound installations and collaborative projects have been featured at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (2012); Venice Biennale, renegade art project sonic graffiti (2009); and Ping Pong Art Space, Guangzhou (2008).



This Ground Beneath My Feet – A Chorus of Bush in Rab Lands

September 8th - December 15th

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This Ground Beneath My Feet – A Chorus of Bush in Rab Lands[1] includes a collection of works from the last two years of Barbadian artist, Annalee Davis’, practice. The drawings, ledgers, and tea service, along with a culled collection of essays, books, and scholarly material, comprise this exhibition and accompanying Reading Room.

Here, Davis mines family and historical archives from the early 19th century to the 1970s and unpacks her family’s plantation to offer her reflection on historical realities within the Anglophone Caribbean. Binding together autobiographical elements with sites of investigation, Davis resuscitates history.  She considers how plantations in general, and her family’s in particular, defy comprehension—even as their economies of labor and production are understood.

Initiating the larger body of work on paper, the discursive project White Creole Conversations features a collection of 25 field recordings and written interviews, paying testament to the ambiguous and often contradictory ways that race and class are read historically and understood in the context of the Caribbean. These works on paper continue this conversation; with the delicate compendium of collages, drawings on plantation ledger papers, and scroll-like paintings, Davis creates poetic devices that enable connection, transformation, and regeneration.

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In the Rab Lands, wild flora is resilient and fragile, ambiguous and lucid.  Narratives of assumption become tenuous as reimagined points of convergence come alive in fields and emerge from the belly of history within stories that have been silenced. Davis wanders through fields studying wild plants and the former monoculture crop, Sugarcane, while paying special attention to how the legacies of slavery, colonization, and ancestral trauma have scarred and exhausted the landscape.

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Continuing to push the boundaries of materiality in her work, the development of (Bush) Tea Services – the sculptural centerpiece – incorporates porcelain shards and red clay unearthed from several archeological digs at Walkers Dairy, former plantation. The Tea Service symbolically connects to the imagery present in the Rab Lands, abstracting the wild plants from quotidian usage repurposing their intention to ritual, consumption and healing.

This space has been designed to facilitate discussion and encourage investigation of the historical complexities within the Caribbean, and beyond. Sit and peruse.

[1] A late 16th century term referring to various types of stony or gravelly subsoil; rubble, gravel. In Barbados it refers to land that was formerly under sugarcane cultivation and has been left to grow wild plants. The term is usually used in a disparaging way signaling land that is deemed unsuitable for agricultural production.




Light and Life: St. Louis Cemetery No.1 Reframed through the Lens of John Pinderhughes

February 3rd - August 20th 2016

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 Light and Life: St. Louis Cemetery No.1 Reframed through the Lens of John Pinderhughes explores photography’s ability to capture time and illuminate space.  Pinderhughes’ images invite viewers to contemplate—or possibly decipher—the physical, spiritual, and temporal contexts of their origin. Light and line fuse to isolate spatial patterns, direct the viewer’s gaze, and challenge conventional conceptions of cemeteries and the life inhabiting them.

From the mid 1970s, Pinderhughes has worked as a commercial photographer in New York City. For the last 40 years; however, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans, Louisiana, has served as the inspiration for some of Pinderhughes’ most profound and contemplative personal work. Through his lens, the crumbling structures of brick and limestone, the “XXX” markings on the tomb of famed Creole Louisiana Voodoo practitioner Marie Catherine Laveau, the fresh flowers that adorn deteriorating tombs, and the occasional backdrop of Iberville housing projects oblige viewers to consider what exists beyond, as well as within, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.

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There is perhaps an unexpectedly emotional aspect to these photographs, prompting the viewer to come away with new, sobering, and deeply thoughtful conceptions, as well as an almost introspective reflection, on what, for some, is a lost city. Pinderhughes’ framing of this New Orleans necropolis, or city of the dead, compels us to consider the city itself, its fascinating histories and the ways in which St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 has been a silent witness to the past.

-Phillip A. Townsend, Curator


Patience on a Monument: Recent work by Eto Otitibge

February 11th - April 16th 2016

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For Patience on a Monument, Eto Otitigbe has created works that acknowledge the complex interplay between public memorializing, history, and everyday life.  The art on view here engages with the granite statues that demark the sacred spaces in Washington D.C., the majestic promenade along Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia, and the bronze statuaries positioned on the East and South malls of this campus. The monuments on these malls and others around the world perform stories of triumph, though each highlights different figures and outcomes. For one set of monuments, the sanctity of democracy is limited to a few and justifies the enslavement of people, while another argues for the plurality of democracy as freedom for all. Otitigbe asks viewers to question how such monuments invite audiences to participate in the memory and retelling of significant moments and whether all viewers are granted the same access to a shared sense of power.

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From granite engraved fortresses to precious mementos such as a hand stitched quilts or the bronze stones paved circuitously about a landscape, monuments are said to commemorate, celebrate, and edify memories and histories. Otitigbe’s work gracefully disrupts the monolithic history that public art, monuments in particular, has come to represent. Instead, the objects on view here play with the concept of public art and participate in an ongoing dialogue about the precarious domain of public memory. The artist uses recycled materials, such as treated aluminum and Valchromat, to recast local monuments; the rough-hewn materials speak to the fleeting nature of history and memory. The symbols in the etchings invite us to participate and engage, and to look and look again.

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Otitigbe’s art, like the elegantly crafted monuments to which it responds, gingerly escorts us through the discomfort of replaying the past.  Memorials are not merely celebrations; they are also sites where melancholy settles, pain persists, and trauma is preformed. The artist, like Maya Lin, suggests that individuals must embrace pain, suffering, and death to move forward. Patience on a Monument meditates on memorials which, like the memories they are said to represent, are contested performances, unsettled, unfinished.

– The above text was prepared by the curator of the exhibition, Myron M. Beasley, Associate Professor of Cultural Studies, African American Studies, and Women and Gender Studies at Bates College.

 

Latoya Ruby-Frazier: Riveted 

February 18 - May 6, 2015

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INGZ curatorial collective presents Riveted, a series of exhibitions featuring the work of LaToya Ruby Frazier (American, b. 1982). Known for photographs that intimately document the impact of deindustrialization on her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania, her family, and her own body, Frazier's work presses questions about agency, representation, citizenship, and the environmental and economic realities of racism. Riveted draws together work from the black and white photography series "Notions of Family" and new large-scale color works as well as lithographs, video and narrative performance. Putting together Frazier’s multiple forms of documentary, Riveted is a dynamic visual experience that charts Frazier’s personal and political engagements with her rust belt home. Given Austin’s recent rapid socioeconomic changes and their disproportionate impact on poor communities of color, we believe Frazier’s work offers a first-hand account of lived experiences in the wake of unregulated economic booms.

Sponsored by the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies and the Harry Ransom Center. 

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Installation view, Latoya Ruby Frazier: Riveted


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Latoya Ruby Frasier, Me and Mom's Boyfriend, Mr. Art (2005). gelatin silver print photograph


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Latoya Ruby Frazier, Edgar Thomson Plant and The Bottom (2013). From the series A Despoliation of Water: From the Housatonic to Monogahela River (1930-2013). archival print photograph


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Latoya Ruby Frazier, Self Portrait (United States Steel) (2005). still from digital video


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Installation view, Latoya Ruby Frazier: Riveted


Christina Coleman: A Body of Art 

October, 2014

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Christina Coleman (MFA Studio Art, 2012) presents new work in Body of Art at the John L. Warfield Center ISESE Gallery. The exhibition opened Thursday, October 2, at 5 p.m.

Christina Coleman is an artist whose work is as intriguing as it is challenging. Body of Art, the work exhibited here, presents interpretations of her surroundings. She investigates ideas relating to three distinct areas that she describes as, “The realm of Earth—which pertains to the ground, or land; the realm of Being, or existing; and the realm of the Beyond which includes ideas of the universe, or outer-space.” As an artist, Coleman examines two narrative traditions: the first being Biblical narratives, particularly the stories coming out of Genesis, and the second being Afrofuturism, a term that emerged in the mid-1980s to describe an artistic movement that uses the arts, science, technology, and science-fiction to explore and shape the Black experience. In addition, the artist explores the purpose and meaning of artifacts that have become familiar aspects of our everyday lives. The artist’s diverse influences and interests are reflected in her materials which range from hair combs to charcoal drawings, hair gel paintings and hair-band works.

Regarding the Creation story in Genesis, Coleman is struck by the notion that everything has a relationship to everything else and that each thing has its own specific role or place. The objects in Body of Art reflect these considerations: they exist in relation to one another—and, in turn, in relation to the viewer. The charcoal drawings represent what is celestial, relating to the sky or outer space. The reconsidered objects, on the other hand, ground us in reality. The artworks made of hair gel are suggestive of skins or hides, while her reconfigured combs simultaneously provoke thoughts of beauty and protection. In the sculptural installation Untitled (Of an Obtuse Angle), the repurposed hair-bands, typically worn by young girls, intersect with mathematical elements found in geometry and trigonometry. With Untitled (Of an Obtuse Angle) the idea that truth is provable is pulled to the point before it snaps.

Coleman’s exploration of that which she doesnot fully understand is key to her art-making process: “I am often influenced by things that I don’t initially fully get—though my interest is strong. In essence, questioning motivates my work.” She sees her work as a method of taking from the world, reinterpreting through her lens, and then placing it back in the world; she gives society something that is uniquely hers. 

Christina Coleman was born in Los Angeles, California and currently lives and works in Austin, Texas. She received the Bachelor’s in Studio Art from the University of California at Los Angeles and the Master’s of Fine Arts from the University of Texas at Austin.

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Christina Coleman, Hair Gel I (2013)

Historical Present (January 30-May 23, 2014)

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Historical Present surveys photographs and mixed media works by Juan Capistran and Ricky Yanas. Capistran’s photographs include painted tools of political dissent common during the civil rights and liberation movements of the 1950s to 1970s. Objects include a Molotov cocktail and protest sign painted white and photographed against white backgrounds. The associations of the color with ideas such as surrender, white-wash, and rebirth interest the artist. Indeed, he urges viewers to consider the various metaphorical implications of the whitened objects.

Yanas draws from the archives of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History and the Austin History Center, among other places for Historical Present. His photographs depict flyers, newsletters, and other ephemera made by activists from across the nation and especially those from the Austin community. Thus the artist encourages viewers to consider local activist histories alongside better-known narratives of political resistance. 

Both artists have a particular interest in minimalism, a trend in sculpture and painting that arose in the 1950s and is characterized by the use of simple, minimal, forms that are often repeated in sequence. They find the rise of the stripped down, structured style of art striking, especially against the tumultuous context of civil rights histories. Within the works of Capistran and Yanas, a fascinating interplay between the two disparate, overlapping movements occur. The reductive single-color or monochromatic art of Capistran and serial grid works of Yanas are at once private meditations on the political relevance of art and public appeals for reawakened political consciousness

Juan Capistran (b. 1976, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico) is a Los Angeles-based artist whose mixed media works were prominently featured inPhantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement, the pioneering exhibition of Mexican American contemporary art that debuted at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2007. A graduate of Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles and the University of California, Irvine, Capistran has exhibited his art internationally at the 12th Istanbul Biennial in Turkey, the New Museum in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, and the 2nd Triennial Poli-Grafica in San Juan, Puerto Rico among many others. His photographs and mixed media works will also be featured in What We Want, What We Believe: Toward a Higher Fidelity, a solo exhibition at the Visual Art Center at UT Austin that opens on January 31, 2014 at 6pm. 

Ricky Yanas (b. 1984, San Antonio, Texas) is an Austin-based artist and photography lecturer at the Texas State University, San Marcos. Since graduating from the MFA program in photography at UT Austin in 2011, Yanas’s work has been featured in exhibitions at Mexic-Arte Museum and Up Collective in Austin. In 2012, he was a co-recipient of the prestigious Idea Fund Grant and a guest editor and featured artist inPastelegram, an Austin-based print and online art magazine.

Historical Present is curated by Rose G. Salseda, Ph.D. candidate in Art History at UT Austin. 

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Installation view, Historical Present


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Juan Capistran, When darkness has swallowed the reality...there is a light that never goes out... (2012). mixed-media (detail)


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Ricky Yanas, Black & White, Brown & Black (2014). installation. 


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Juan Capistran, Yesterday has already vanished from the shadows of the past; tomorrow has yet emerged from the future. (Shame) (2012)
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Installation view, Historical Present 


Five Decades of Haitian Painting: Selections from the Rudy Green and Joyce Christian Collection (September - December, 2013)

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The John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies is hosting an exhibition of Haitian painting that spans five decades, almost all of Haiti’s regional divisions, and a range of styles and eras.  The exhibition features paintings selected from the collection of Rudy Green and Joyce Christian, by curator, Lise Ragbir.

This exhibition indicates something of the expanse and depth of Haitian painting, while demonstrating that Haitian art is a cornerstone of Caribbean art. Well-known contemporary Haitian artists Frantz Zephirin, Madsen Mompremier, Edouard Duval Carrié and Philippe Dodard, are exhibited alongside artists from an earlier generation including Pierre-Joseph Valcin, Tamara Baussan and Louverture Poisson.

Influenced by African slaves, indigenous Caribbean cultures, Spanish and French Colonialism, American power and contemporary politics, Haitian art reveals much of the country’s fascinating history, intriguing religion and complex cultural expressions.

Concurrent to “Five Decades of Haitian Painting: Selections from the Green-Christian Collection”, the Fine Arts Library at the University of Texas at Austin is hosting two displays of archival material relating to the art of Haiti, including a selection of the library’s publications on the subject.

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Installation view, Five Decades of Haitian Painting


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Bourmond Byron, Tree of Life (1990). acrylic on canvas


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Philippe Dodard, Self Portrait (1990) mixed media


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Frantz Zephirin, Before the Temptation (2001). acrylic on canvas


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Installation view, Five Decades of Haitian Painting


Alan Edmunds (March 22, 2013)

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An Artist talk with Allan Edmunds, Master Printer and Executive Director of the Brandywine Workshop

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