The process: curatorial statement

From the first time the idea of this exhibition came into thought to this weekend, I have been contemplating about the statement I wanted to make with this exhibition. Funny enough, even to this point it is difficult to really convey what the exhibition is about. It’s a multifaceted exhibition centered around the main theme of identity and how to navigate through it.

The idea of the exhibition came to thought while I was brainstorming a series of exhibitions to do produce for the following years to come to build on my career as a curator. Despite that I chose the wrong educational path for a curator, I still remember the advice one of my mentors gave me when I was interning at the Greenhill NC. Edie Carpenter had told me “If you want to start your career path as a curator, you’re going to have to put on shows.” As I was writing ideas down, I thought about my current position in life, the artists I have met and the inspiration I received from them. I thought of my difficulty finding a full-time position in the arts administration field and this growing anxiety of having to prove myself again while feeling like my proof should have been apparent. I thought of all the artists while writing ideas down and felt there was some familiar detail about them.

_______hood Took a year to plan, prepare, and produce. During the months as I was securing the location, preparing the marketing material, and talking to be artists about their work, I could not help but feel like I was getting closer to that familiar detail about them. It wasn’t until after I started installing the work in the gallery that it came to realization. Despite the amazing achievements these artists have made already, they are still considered “emerging “artists.

I’m surprised they are not in the same position as Jordan Castille Who is currently being exhibited throughout the East Coast and further during in shortly after her time in graduate school at Yale. The content of the work is drastically different, in my opinion, but their content’s qualities are close to the finest. In my mind, each of them are still trying to prove themselves repeatedly to “climb up the ladder” and closer to theor dream. It’s is this reason, I believe, as to why I started the brand in the first place. I wanted this brand to help artists by providing them a platform and resources from the administrative aspect to help them excell to their dreams which often is making our pursuing the ideas that inspire them.

Earlier, it made sense to use emerging artists with already profound ideas and have made a remarkable impact with their work already get into the community so they serve to further elevate the awareness of what they’re doing inspire others to support them. It just so happens that the themes in the content that inspires their creativity relates back to identity in some aspects. I wanted this exhibition to be an experience for people to reflect on the concept of rite of passage, and what it means to be the identities that we hold. This concept matter to me, and I think it matters to many others, because this is an open dialogue leading to answering the following question

Is my destiny truly in my own hands and at my own disposal, or is my fate already predetermined and I’m giving the illusion of choice?

If my destiny is based off my character and identity, and if I am capable of changing my identity, at what point does my density change and what defines that changing experience?

Is it my actions soly, or is it something more?

Each of these artists handle identity differently. Some explore, others question, others challenge and redifine the factors and circumstances that we allow to define us. In regards to my brand’s mission and vision, it is one of my objectives to inspire a community to take action inspired by art and the conversations they spark. My question is, how can we move forward as a community to better outcomes?

All of these things orbit my thoughts as I slwrite this official curator statement.

Influence of Gender identity on youth through entertainment

Colin Stokes brings up another point in gender identity and the influence film and entertainment has in our cultures. Checkout the video below and tell me what you think.

The Process – Ideation of _______hood

When I began my journey to building my career, I had a difficult time finding “my place”. I simply wanted to male a living in the arts, but it was never clear to me howdiverse the creative field was until I went to A&T. While exploring my options, one consideration was being a curator so I can produce exhibitions. 

April (left), Edie, and Jim

During undergrad, I was already producing exhibitions for a variety of purposes. I had been involved in planning and putting on annual fall and spring student exhibitions  that our program sponsored. Eventually, I became an intern at Greenhill for the executive director of curatorial and creative programming. Eventually the director became a mentor and she began dating me on curating and maintaining the gallery and dealing with all the lid just sticks that comes with it. One of the biggest takeaways I had from her advice was “if you wants to start your career path is a curator, you need to start producing shows.” At the time, this went perfect with the advice my other mentor had given us during our classes, “if you want to be something, do the things that ‘something’ does. And you better be the best one there.” 

Keeping those advice with me, I continue producing exhibitions for the program and started planning personal ones to do once I was done with school. Before The end of my junior year, The director of the visualize the program, Roymieco Carter, had notice of my interest in putting on exhibitions and it suggested that I look into art administration. During and after my enrollment at SCAD, I begin planning and thinking of ideas for exhibitions to start producing once I was done with school. The very first one became organically made when I met local artists in Atlanta who were doing some really interesting work. I believed now was the best time to produce and build.

Since plans went through constant revisions for my final project, I decided to focus on one artist, so I can focus on the administrative aspect, and save my other ideas for later. However, this was when I began considering launching my brand with this production as the launching point. After I graduated, and still scurrying around for a spot to start my career, I started planning for the next exhibition.
Amongst the ideas I had written down, more on that later,  _______hood became more present in mind. Combining personal experience with an awareness of our social circumstances, I wanted the first exhibition to be used as an open forum for people to come together and share experiences. In the near future, I hope these exhibitions inspire audiences to take action to do better. 

Recalling all these experiences, I wanted an exhibition that reflected what I think is the biggest deal, Identity. Considering that a part of the political polarization between liberals and conservatives, as well as social issues with immigration and LGBT to name a few, is largely tied to individual values that are almost married to one’s identity. This particular exhibition matters as five emerging artist, who are going through their own rite of passage to be established, show work that relates to the process of developing, or changing, an identity. In being able to have control over your identity, you should be able to control your destiny. 

In all of this, I wonder:

  1. What defines you?
  2. What do you think defines masculinity and femininity?
  3. At what point do we achieve the identities we pursue? 

Please share your thoughts.

Gender identity: Manhood

Tony Porter shares a personal story that many young American men experience. The ongoing notion that men are tough and enduring is interpreted in many ways. Here is what Porter has to say.

As McFadden recently produced a book, Come to Selfhood, and is creating a series of work for an exhibition at the Mason Fine Arts Gallery, the questions still pursue; What does make a man? What separates him from a boy? [and specifically] What does it mean to be a black man in American culture? In personal conversations I recall a a statment about the struggle between developing your own identity, and dealing with the identities that are put on you by the society and culture you are in.

What defines manhood?

McFadden’s recent work focuses on selfhood, the sense of agency that the individual has made for himself. How does an individual develop an identity when another identity is pressed on them.  As his newest collection is gaining attention in the arts community,  The age old question still  re-asked , what makes a man, or woman? “

Below are a few articles written on the matter.

What it means to be young, black, and male in the U.S. – Jordan G. Teicher

Speculated History of Colorism

Colorism has affected several generations of African American men and women. It is argued that this ranges as far back as the 1700’s with the influence of Willie Lynch. Depending on who you are talking to, the tension is the idea that the “whiter” you are the better you are treated or will have more chances being successful.

Akira X. Roberson, a blogger on The Final Call, goes into further detail in her article. Another blogger, Elica Zadeh from The Voice also mentions the origin of this notion being started as far back as slavery times in America. Regarding these articles, it can be speculated that the current issue of Colorism, and the global phenomena of people making their features more Eurocentric, may be connected to the suggestions Willie Lynch made. The notion of this “rift” has affected the minds of many slaves in Lynch’s time, their descendants and has evolved in how it affects the minds of many African Americans in contemporary times.

This issue doesn’t affect all African Americans, of course. In the “debate” of Light Skin vs Dark Skin, many argue that it doesn’t matter. As Nouvelle Noir Goddess, another blogger for Patheos stated in her article, “Mom is mom and Dad is dad: as a family, we are all Black”. Many push back on the notion and some are simply not affected. Below are the articles if interested.

Light Skin Vs. Dark Skin: Breaking the Mental Chains – Akira X. Roberson

Light Skin vs. Dark Skin: The Great Debate – B. Couleur

Light Skin V Dark Skin: Where It All Started – Elica Zadeh

Demystifying the Dark vs. Sight Skin Culture – Nouvelle Noir Goddess