Salon 94 has launched a new online viewing room called “Portraiture: A Private Room.” Comprised of works mostly made by artists of color, the exhibition allows artists to reflect on their own identities through portraiture. Highlights of the viewing room include works by Meleko Mokgosi, a Botswana-born painter who works with competing narratives of southern Africa and colonial histories, Katy Grannan, a photographer who captures portraits of the Blackfoot Nation, and Richard Wyatt Jr., a contemporary muralist best known for his public art that revolves around historical and cultural themes.
Wyatt Jr.’s detailed drawings emphasize the process of portrait making and the importance of delving into the complexities that make up a person. “I returned to portraiture because I wanted to do works that speak to people’s souls and spirits, which is what we really need now with the times we are living in,” he explained. Lyle Ashton Harris and Luis Flores examine their own identities and impersonate others, while Mokgosi and Robert Pruitt explore the personal histories and objects that make up a life. “Together these works offer a small insight into our collective humanity and provide a moment to pause, breathe, and hope,” Salon 94 says.
With anti-racist protests erupting in the U.S., U.K. and other parts of the world, “Portraiture: A Private Room” sheds light on the importance of artists of color’s work and gives them a platform to use their voices. Check out the viewing room for yourself on Salon 94’s website.
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Moving words from #RichardWyattJr “In 1971, my family moved from Compton, CA to Los Angeles. I witnessed both the Watts Uprising of 1965 and the L.A. Rebellion of 1992. In both events, it was heartbreaking to watch the destruction of my communities; Yet, I understood the pain and frustration African-Americans experienced during both of these periods of unrest. In Watts, I met artists who responded to social injustice through their work. Artists, such as, John Outterbridge and Noah Purifoy immediately come to mind. In Los Angeles 1992, I responded to police brutality in my own work. As an alumnus of Fairfax High School, Class of 1973, the recent uprising in L.A.’s Fairfax District hurt just as much as the previous rebellions. Given that I spent time in this community throughout my years at Fairfax High , seeing Cantor’s Deli and other iconic landmarks surrounded by fire, smoke, and vandalism gave me that same feeling of empathy I experienced in 1965, 1992, and now in 2020. This weekend, I was going through my files and came across a catalogue from a 1992 exhibition I was invited to be a part of at CAAM in Los Angeles, entitled “No Justice, No Peace, Resolutions…”. This untitled trompe l’oeil’ (Acrylic paint on fiberglass screen) is an examination of past civilizations juxtaposed against the remnant structures of the 1992 uprising. It was intended to show how past civilizations missed it. It was a statement about structures and objects that remain, and it was an attempt to avoid the past mistakes. In front of the combined ruins (one a ghost town, the other a fire scorched building façade from the 1992 Rebellion) stands two pedestals with Plexiglas vitrines. Resting inside of the vitrines are artifacts (broken bottles, ashes etc.) that represent a civilization that destroyed itself. Stretching across the front of the installation is yellow caution tape.” Pictured above: Let’s Put Our Stones Down, 2020 Pencil on paper 41 x 25 inches
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“The last time I saw her, she was in the bag. I didn’t get to see her. I just had to hold the bag. She had one blue eye and one brown eye. She was perfect. They called her one in a million when she was born. She’ll always be one in a million.” – Kenneth Still Smoking, Father of Monica Still Smoking, who was 7 years old when she was abducted in front of her elementary school on December 17, 1979. Her body was found, frozen in the remote mountains near Glacier National Park, on December 31, 1979. Her case remains unsolved. Countless natives have disappeared within vast and remote reservations in the United States and Canada. Exact numbers are unknown because there are no reliable statistics. No one is counting the missing. @katygrannan’s portraits of Blackfeet women are part of an ongoing collaboration with the tribe to produce a series of photographs, films and individual recordings Pictured, from our current online viewing room show, “Portraiture: a Private Room” – Peyton Spotted Eagle, Blackfeet Nation, Browning, Montana, 2019’, 2019. – ‘Maddy Gervais, Blackfeet Nation, Browning, Montana, 2020’, 2020. – ‘Ronney Gervais, Blackfeet Nation, Browning, Montana, 2020’, 2020. – ‘Lael McNabb, Blackfeet Nation, Browning, Montana, 2020’, 2020. #katygrannan #portaiture #photography #document #blackfeetnation