Review: Transcend

In an attempt to increase diversity and racial awareness in the arts in Oklahoma, OKC-based artist Nathan Lee has curated a series of exhibits that bring to the forefront of viewers' perception the work of black, Oklahoma-based artists. The latest of these exhibits, "Transcend," opened at Living ArtSpace, 308 S. Kenosha, last Friday.

The title of the exhibit, Lee explained during the artist's talk, comes from the artists' desires and attempts to transcend common stereotypes about black art--that it concerns only black subjects, that it is tribal in nature, that it all stems from the realism movement.

In fact, the work of the artists of "Transcend" -- Lee, Wendell Gorden, Skip Hill, Marjorie (GiGi) Bontemps, Suzanne Thomas, Brenna King, Rory Littleton and Cheri Ledbetter -- is all varied and individualistic.

Lee's sculptures, which blend the qualities of animal and human, and Gorden's prints, were some of my favorite elements of the show. I also admired Hill's mixed media pieces. (The work above is by Hill.)

After absorbing each piece of work on its own, I stood back and tried to take in the exhibit as a whole. I wondered, if I had come into the gallery without knowing anything about the show, would I be able to guess that it was an exhibit by black artists? Looking at the exhibit as a whole, I think so. From afar, it was easily noticeable that many of the works' subjects were, in fact, African Americans. But, when looking at the exhibit piece by piece, it is not necessarily clear the nationality of each artist whose work is represented.

Concerning its goal to dispel common myths about black artwork, the exhibit was a huge success. The work presented was so stunningly diverse, yet it came together beautifully for the exhibit. I think, though, any one of the artists of "Transcend" could easily carry his or her own show, and I hope we continue to see their work exhibited locally (though most of them are from the Oklahoma City area).

Lee's other goal for the exhibit, he told me, was to inform African American artists about how to market and show their work in local galleries. He founded Inclusion in Art to further provide minority artists with resources to educate and enable them about exhibiting their work. For more on that endeavor, e-mail inclusionart@hotmail.com.

"Transcend" will hang at Living Arts through Feb. 19. Gallery hours are Thursday and Saturday, 6-9pm, and by appointment.


hodari said...

thanks, Holly for the props in your blog! Very cool!...Skip