The Art of HERstory Exhibition Opens in Bed-Stuy
All roads lead to Brooklyn, or so it seems for the artists showcased in The Art of HERstory, an all-female exhibition that recently opened in Bedford-Stuyvesant in celebration of Women’s History Month.
The exhibition is a joint initiative of Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation’s Center for Arts and Culture — and its Skylight Gallery — and nearby Welancora Gallery, whose curators collaborated to select artworks that celebrate and examine the experiences of women of the African diaspora.
The 26 female artists in the show use art to express personal narratives and journeys paved by self-reflection, and examine the cultural roadblocks that women everywhere commonly face in their work.
The show is curated by Skylight Gallery’s Hollis King and Welancora Gallery’s Ivy Nicole Jones, with artwork of various mediums on view at both spaces. Indira Etwaroo, Executive Director of The Center for Arts and Culture, is a champion of what she calls “art on the margins”, and says Skylight Gallery has a long and rich tradition of celebrating artists of the African diaspora. Etwaroo chose King, a veteran of the New York City art scene, as curator at Skylight because he is an “artistic risk-taker”, she says, and is passionate about disrupting trends in contemporary thought that serve to marginalize people according to gender and race.
Jones, the founder of Welancora Gallery, says that “self-reflection is one of several major concepts addressed in the exhibition — how women, specifically women of the African diaspora, perceive themselves, and how they are perceived by society”.
For example, participating artist Chanel Kennebrew’s work is a celebration of the resilience and strength she perceives among her Brooklyn neighbors, and attests to the value of a woman’s ownership of her own identity.
Fellow Brooklyn artist Aisha T. Bell describes the figure in her mixed-media piece Chimera as being trapped in a two-dimensional space, as the ceramic head (representing consciousness) breaks free from the canvas it’s mounted on. In the same way, women are constantly “negotiating spaces”, she says, trying to push through the constraints imposed by a society that expects them to look, act, and dress a certain way.
The Art of HERstory represents another in a long line of efforts to call attention to and dismantle the obstacles faced by women, while illuminating the complexity of their experiences. It prompts visitors to consider where, in the landscape of these experiences, they themselves fit in.
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