It’s really early in the AM or, super late at night right now. I usually wake up this time, around 2 or 3 am and stay up for a few hours to zhikr, meditate, pray, read, just be really quiet. Sometimes I get some really great ideas for project at this time. Those ideas come with such clarity, just roaring. I love this time of the day/ night. It’s such a liminal time. All peace.
I was at the Black Artist Retreat last month and I had a really great conversation with another artist who really loves to work at this time, her aunties also apparently love to get up at this time to pray. They are really well balanced people she says.
I wanted to write a little bit about the Black Artist Retreat, it was so intense and so wonderful in too many ways to describe. It’s just really awesome that Theaster Gates has been putting on this retreat for three years now. This was my first year. For the first two days it was just us Black Artist retreating from all over the country, and two from other countries. Lots of deep conversations about Fred Moten’s book, The Undercommons. Fred Moten was there too. Lots of socializing. It was really great to see and meet so many Black Artists in one place. I thought, if I can just do this every year, I’ll be good. Well, I’m good anyway, but my thought really is that the retreat was so different from my every day life in that I don’t see other Black artists anything close to that number on a regular basis. I live in Durham, and it can be really quiet over here. Compared to where I grew up, in Brooklyn and my first art communities throughout New York, this can feel like living in a cave, or making art in a cave. I love it. I’m usually a bit surprised when arts administrators get in touch with me about doing an exhibition. I still have that, ‘how do you even know about me?!’ reaction. That happened to me earlier this year when a curator got in touch with me about participating in their museum’s auction. I had to double check that it wasn’t a fraud email. Then later with the Under Color of Law exhibition I was really floored to be showing with Terry and Carrie Mae Weems especially. But, then it kept happening throughout this year, curators asking me to participate in really awesome projects and shows. I’m grateful. I’ll try to be a little less in shock or suspicious.
Talking about curators, I just read that this curator Omar Kholeif from Egypt by way of many places, most recently the UK is Coming to America! I read a recent interview of his and I was like, OMG, I think we may be kindred art spirits. He said this: “I want to look at the histories of Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and how we draw parallels between those regions and Western knowledge.” Stop playin…! Yes!!! I hope he gets to know my work really well and vis versa. This has been such a big interest of mine since forever. Especially in grad school I was just like, I’mma talk about Malievitch’s Black Square and the Black Cube (Kaaba) at the same time. And I really hated the way art historians seemed to want to separate everything. Like, how can you talk about Klein without talking about Japanese or Chinese calligraphy. That’s just irresponsible. Or talk about Frank Stella without talking about Islamic Geometrical art. Well, I actually saw a talk of his at the Toledo Museum where he says he was influenced by a trip he took to Iran back in the 60’s. I was disappointed that the Art Historian didn’t ask more about that.
Well, talking about Frank Stella… I actually came on here thinking I would also finally blog about my current solo exhibition, White Circle, Black Square, Silver Pentagon. The exhibition is up right in my area in Durham at Room 100 at Goldenbelt Studios. It really looks amazing. I put a lot of work and thought into it, and even reinstalled a wall drawing that I first created back in 2012. That was no small feat. I had to do the math all over again.
I love it. I’m glad the gallery was open to me installing it because I know no one has ever done a wall drawing in that space before and deinstalling it (i.e.. painting it over) will be more work than they usually put in to deinstall. But, I love to do a wall drawing whenever I have a solo exhibition. For me, it marks the space as a specific site that needs to be addressed in a unique way with brand new considerations even if all that work in it has been shown elsewhere before. It’s new again. It does make the job of installing a bit more demanding. And for me so far, the wall drawing is the most minimal and abstract piece in the show. For this show it is the white circle, black square, and silver pentagon all in conversation and its the formal inquiry that I’ve been obsessed with for a few years. Those three shapes need to talk. And they do… in my solo exhibition. The work will be up until September 29th, 2015. Goldenbelt is located at 807 East Main St. in Downtown Durham, NC 27701. Room 100 is in the Arts Building #3.