Memory runs like an aquifer beneath the works of the five artists in this exhibition, a storehouse for the life-giving substance that sustains and shapes the landscape of their artistic practice. Sometimes the water lies just below the surface; for Mark Bradford and Maya Freelon, the memories are of a mother, a beloved grandmother, and vibrant African American community traditions. Sometimes the water table is deep underground. Rotimi Fani-Kayode and Manuel Mendive draw on African cultural and spiritual traditions centuries old. Ivan Forde, looking to the Epic of Gilgamesh, reaches back millennia to tap into a wellspring of inspiration. All five artists mark memories in the sense of honoring them as well as literally manifesting them in their visual artworks. Bringing personal and shared memories to the surface, this work bears witness, confronts, replenishes, and sustains.
This exhibition is titled Begin/Again after a work in the Escalette Collection by Maya Freelon. At a time when we confront a wasteland and the possibility of substantive change seems to move further away, these two words are more important than ever. Memories—uncovered, examined, and offered in an act of faith that we can indeed move forward—allow us to begin/again.
Begin/Again: Marking Black Memories is curated by Lindsay Shen and Jessica Bocinski. Support is generously provided by the Ellingson Family, the Phyllis and Ross Escalette Permanent Collection of Art, and Wilkinson College of Art, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Animation provided by Wilkinson College’s Ideation Lab students.
About this ExhibitThe Covid-19 pandemic and resulting quarantine closures have introduced previously unthinkable challenges to our daily lives. In the process of navigating our "new normal," we hope to continue to find ways of connecting people and sharing important ideas. The Escalette Collection of Art is thrilled to launch its first entirely virtual exhibition Begin/Again with this goal in mind. This digital platform has allowed us to share more about the artists, their work, and their ideas than would have been possible with a physical exhibition.
- Using links, videos, and call-out boxes, this virtual experience invites visitors to follow some of the strands of thought that each artist carefully wove into the fabric of their work.
- Most importantly, this digital format has allowed us to foreground the voices of the artists themselves. Through video interviews and extended quotations from essays, we see this virtual exhibit as a platform for these five artists to share their experiences and thoughts in their own words whenever possible.
- Lastly, our virtual exhibition allows you, the visitor, to participate in the ongoing dialogue surrounding these artists and their works. We encourage you to share your questions, thoughts, or memories using the comment bubble icon at the bottom of each page. These reflections can be as personal or academic, informal or formal as you’d like, and can take whatever form (whether short paragraph, poem, video, artwork, etc.) that best expresses your idea. [Please note that images and videos cannot be submitted through the comment feature, and must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
To explore this exhibit, you are welcome to follow the set progression of pages using the buttons at the bottom of each page, or to determine your own path by clicking on whatever page you'd like using the Table of Contents (which appears when you hover over the three-line sandwich icon in the top left corner).