Thornton Dial – Folk Artist

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1. “Don’t Matter How Raggly The Flag, It Still Got to Tie Us Together”, 2003  | 2. The artist, Thornton Dial | 3. “Lost Cows”, 2000-2001

Thornton Dial, a self taught artist, passed away on Monday, January 25th. His assemblages was an exploration of American history using a vernacular that was exquisitely black and southern. Dial used toys, rope, bones, wood, tin, cloth – just about anything that he saw could be utilized and transformed.

He was an accomplished artist whose work was acquired by top institutions – the MOMA, the Smithsonian, and the Whitney – no small feat for a man born into a sharecropper family in a small town in Alabama.

Dial’s voice and vision will surely be missed.

{rest in peace}

“I like to use the stuff that I know about, stuff that I know the feel of…” — Thornton Dial

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MLK Jr. Day | John Woodrow Wilson – Printmaker, Sculptor, Painter

1. “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” 2002; 2. “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” 1987; 3. John Woodrow Wilson with his maquette of MLK in 1997 (Barry Chin, The Boston Globe)

As the years roll by since his tragic assassination, we have seen gorgeous, poignant, and even light-hearted images of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We use these images, especially on his national holiday, to remember his efforts to dismantle the oppressive plight of black folks and humanity-at-large.

My favorite images of him are actually not photographs, but the works of the artist, John Woodrow Wilson. Wilson was a phenomenal draftsman and sculptor and his depictions of MLK are just a few of his most inspired works.

In 1986, Wilson was commissioned to create a 3-foot-tall, bronze bust of the legendary reverend and activist for the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C.; and it is noted as being Wilson’s most viewed work. He also designed a large maquette of MLK that evokes the mysticism and power of a Mayan Olmec head.

Wilson passed away on January 22, 2015 at the age of 92, leaving behind a body of work that should be studied and respected for years to come. May he and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. continue to rest in eternal power and peace.

{ashe}

Nick Cave – Fiber, Sculpture, Performance

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Nick Cave’s “soundsuits” are absolutely sensational. The Chicago-based artist, educator, and former Alvin Ailey dancer creates whimsical costumes rooted in ritual, sculpture, textiles, and movement. Cave collects various objects such as buttons, fabrics, twigs, and toys with the intent to repurpose them into something new and wonderful.

The soundsuits are inspired by the masquerade costumes found throughout Africa, specifically West Africa. Big, bold, and otherworldly, the suits are a dream to look at when stationary. However, magic happens when the costumes are in motion. Cave seeks to question identity – who are we and who can we become? His work requires the performer to surrender his or her identity and take on the personality of the suit while maintaining an awareness of his/her body. Simply, Cave’s work is poetry in motion.

See his “poetry” below.

Simone Leigh – Sculptor, Filmmaker

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I think I gasped when I first saw a cowrie shell sculpture by Simone Leigh. Literally, gasped. Her sculptures are a magnificent culmination of African Diasporian culture. Like the sculptures found throughout West Africa, Leigh’s works communicate messages from the past, present, and future. It’s the subtleties of her work that convey the most information – the cast iron blackness, the softly tinted colored roses, the speckles on the cowrie shell. It’s the anthropologic elements that I like most about Leigh’s work. The underlying messages of race and culture that reads like a Zora Neale Huston book. Most importantly, I dig those cowries ALOT!

Last summer, she created an installation called the Free People’s Medical Clinic for Creative Time’s community-based, art exhibition, Funk, God, Jazz, and Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn. The installation, while giving homage to black female medical workers, was an interactive exploration of public health care. In addition to unique performances, the clinic provided humane healthcare experiences such as yoga and acupuncture sessions, health screenings, and black folk dance classes. All classes, workshops, and services were offered by Brooklyn-based practitioners.

Leigh is on that art {goddess} flow. Peep more of her work at http://www.simoneleigh.com/.

Vintage Dopeness | Augusta Savage & Richmond Barthe

Ya’ll know I love videos of artists. It’s a sacred thing to see artists in their creative place and these two vintage vids are blessed! Click below to see Augusta Savage and Richmond Barthe do what they did best – sculpt!

Mary Sibande – Sculptor, Photographer, Painter

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(l to r) – 1. I’m a Lady, digital print on cotton rag, 2009; 2. Admiration of the purple figure, digital pigment print, 2013; 3. The Reign, mix media installation, 2010; 4. They don’t make em like they used too, digital print on rag matte paper, 2008; 5. Her Majesty Queen Sophie, digital print, 2010; 6. I Have Not, I Have, digital print, 2010 (images by Gallery MOMO)

Mary Sibande and her alter ego, Sophie, are taking the art world by storm. Be it a digital print or a full installation of one of Sophie’s larger-than-life adventures –  one thing’s for certain – the imagery is always surreal, bold, and vibrant. With Sophie, Sibande gives homage to the domestic workers in her family while tackling the power struggles that exist within post-apartheid South Africa.

I would love to stand in the middle of Sibande’s installation and let Sophie’s dream world whisk me away…I’m sure that experience would be life changing!

Titus Kaphar – Painter, Sculptor, Filmmaker

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(l to r) 1. Excavation (The Invisible Man); 2. Time Travel; 3. Boys in Winter; 4. Sacrifice; 5. Self Evident

Titus Kaphar is pushing art into a new space by literally cutting, bending, and painting over…space. It’s a refreshing approach to a medium that can, at times, seem repetitive or empty – you know, shock value for shock value’s sake. But Kaphar’s work has depth, energy, life. He takes classical works and recreates them by adding the black image; that dark figure, historically present but rarely acknowledged. I’m really digging Kaphar’s work and I can’t wait to see what he does next. See more of his dopeness at http://tituskaphar.com/.