I’m excited about the upcoming opening of my next exhibition entitled, “Oh, Snap.” at Riverside Fine Arts Association. This exhibition was conceived while working on a research assignment about the Black Arts Movement of the ’60s & ’70s.  For more information about the opening (which I hope that you’ll be attending) click here. To better understand what the paintings and installation pieces will be about you can read my artist’s statement below.

What happens when we stare back?
When we see you seeing us?
When we see us seeing us?
When I see me seeing me?
Reckoning.
This is the beginning of a story I want re-tell.

While studying the history of the Black Arts Movement (the mid 1960s – 1970s), I ran across a plea from its founder, Amiri Baraka (Leroi Jones), in his “imagetext,” In Our Terribleness, a book that united his poetic narrative to photographer Fundi’s (Billy Abernathy) documentary photography. The book is an exploration of the power of the gaze. In it, he speaks of what he considered the state of hypnosis that Black Americans were under. A trancelike state of mind that left us disconnected from our authentic selves both ideologically and aesthetically. The goal of the Black Arts Movement was to revision what it was to be black in spite of historical assumptions, acts, prejudice, and conditioning. To not only to marry the ideological and the aesthetic but to fully align them as one, hence the slogan, “Black is Beautiful” – Black. Is. Beautiful. He insists, though, that he cannot lead African-Americans in the decolonizing state of counter-hypnosis. He urged Black Americans to “try to see your own face when you close your eyes” then “get up and go.”

Knowing that my exhibition would be paired with a musical performance, I dedicated some time to listen to the music in an effort to tie its influence into my body of work.  The music of Sybarite5 almost immediately made me think of the word trance. It’s sweeping effect lulls you into a space where only they exist. A space ripe with anticipation that binds you to that moment. Then it lets you go. Leaving you to reconsider where you were, or even who you were, in the first place. This is the space wherein the music and my studies came together.

“Oh Snap.” is an exploration of the moment after we are snapped out of hypnosis, the instant when we let go. The immediate confrontation between who we are and what we see staring back at us…ourselves and you.

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