Of Care and Destruction

Of Care and Destruction

2021 Atlanta Biennial


February 20, 2021 – August 1, 2021

Since its inception in 1985 and revival in 2016, the exhibition has addressed the deep vernacular traditions at work in the art of the Southeast. The 2021 Atlanta Biennial does this while simultaneously confronting the social issues caused by COVID-19, racism, inequality, and the essential role artists play in our understanding this moment and movement.

Dedicated to the legacies and labor of Stacey Abrams, Helen Butler, Felicia Davis, and Nsé Ufot

“…perhaps art is just all our care in extensive form?”—Toni Morrison

Curated by Dr. Jordan Amirkhani, Of Care and Destruction brings together the work of over thirty artists living, working, exhibiting, and in-residence in the Atlanta metropolitan region and across the southeastern quarter. Ranging from emerging to well-established individuals and collectives working within and between painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, video, and photography, this gathering of artists and projects presents a bold “snapshot” of contemporary art in a time of great grief, loss, isolation, and struggle.

While the range of projects and themes in this exhibition are many, key issues and approaches emerged across the many virtual studio visits and conversations during the development of this exhibition. These include: A confrontation with America’s many mythologies and historical failures; a reckoning with the intersectional inequities of our present; a belief in craftsmanship as a form of care and communion with the past; profound consideration of artistic labor and its relationship to race, gender, precarity, and lived experiences of the body; and a desire to foreground notions of tenderness, beauty, quietude, spirituality, and community within the conceptual structuring of the work, categories often dismissed by White, patriarchal, Western-centric values of representation, art historical or otherwise. Many artists found expression for these concerns in the physicality of their materials and the mutability of their chosen processes, whether in textiles, ceramics, found materials, or photographs.

Submerged within each of the works on display is a unique encounter with one or all of these themes, each theme a reckoning with contemporaneity and the tense gap between all that has been lost and all that we love. Thus, this exhibition is grounded by the belief that while art cannot stem the rise of nationalist movements, alleviate the damages of dissolving social services, nor can it quell the pain and suffering of systemic racism or patriarchal violence, what it can do is act as a guide for how to live and think in fraught times, create space for reflection and generosity, suggest other ways to connect, and provide more rigorous pathways to contextualize our past for a more honest future.

Of Care and Destruction
Curated by Dr. Jordan Amirkhani
Located in Main Galleries

Davion Alston
Born Landstuhl, Germany
Lives Atlanta, GA

Lillian Blades
Born Nassau, Bahamas
Lives Lexington, KY

William Downs
Born Greenville, SC
Lives Atlanta, GA

Shanequa Gay
Born Atlanta, GA
Lives College Park, GA

Myra Greene
Born New York, NY
Lives Atlanta, GA

Jesse Pratt López
Born Cali, Columbia
Lives Atlanta, GA

Courtney McClellan
Born Greensboro, NC
Lives Atlanta, GA

Michi Meko
Born Florence, AL
Lives Atlanta, GA

Eleanor Neal
Born Gary, IN
Lives Atlanta, GA

Yanique Norman
Born Spanish Town, Jamaica
Lives Stonecrest, GA

Lucha Rodríguez
Born Caracas, Venezuela
Lives Atlanta, GA

Hasani Sahlehe
Born St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
Lives Augusta, GA

Zipporah Camille Thompson
Born Charlotte, NC
Lives Atlanta, GA

Tori Tinsley
Born Atlanta, GA
Lives Atlanta, GA

Regina Agu
Born Houston, TX
Lives Chicago, IL*

Marianne Desmarais
Born Gulfport, MS
Lives New Orleans, LA

Nekisha Durrett
Born Washington, DC
Lives Washington, DC

Katie Hargrave
Born Chicago, IL
Lives Chattanooga, TN

Meredith Lynn
Born Boston, MA
Lives Tallahassee, FL

L. Kasimu Harris
Born New Orleans, LA
Lives New Orleans, LA

Donté K. Hayes
Born Baltimore, MD
Lives Kennesaw, GA/Cliffwood, NJ

LeAndra LeSeur
Born Bronx, NY
Jersey City, NJ*

Michelle Lisa Pollissaint
Born Delray Beach, FL
Lives Miami, FL

Saba Taj
Born Raleigh, NC
Lives Durham, NC

Melissa Vandenberg
Born Detroit, MI
Lives Richmond, KY

José Villalobos
Born El Paso, TX
Lives El Paso, TX

Christina Renfer Vogel
Born Atlantic City, NJ
Lives Chattanooga, TN

What Editions
Founded by Cora Lautze & Julian Wellisz
New Orleans, LA

Featuring:
Abdi Farah
Dapper Bruce Lafitte
Akasha Rabut
Ashley Teamer

Featured Images

IMAGE #1: Tori Tinsley, 'Island with Two Lava Pits and Table,' 2020; Acrylic, cardboard, papier-mâché, plaster of Paris, wood, aqua-resin; 91 x 89 x 23 inches (dimensions variable)
IMAGE #2: Hasani Sahlehe, 'Won't Have to Cry No More,' 2020; Acrylic on canvas, 58 x 48 inches
IMAGE #3: Eleanor Neal, 'Transcending Ambiguity,' 2020; Ink, graphite, and oil pastel on paper, 37 x 42 inches

Bios

Davion Alston

Davion Alston (b.1992) lives and works in Atlanta, GA. He received his BFA in studio art with a focus in Photography as well as a Minor in Anthropology from Georgia State University. His work debates the idea of conflation between object and subject with deft investigations of race, gender, sexuality, class, and performance.

Lillian Blades

Lillian Blades was born in Nassau, Bahamas in 1973 and currently resides in Atlanta, GA. She completed a BFA in Painting at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah Campus and a MFA in Painting at Georgia State University. Lillian works predominately in mixed media assemblage. Her childhood home of Bahamas, ancestral background of West Africa, and her late mother, who was a seamstress, influences her art. These influences appear through use of her color palette and objects that evoke memory and history. In addition, Lillian has studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine and Caversham in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Her work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States, as well as The Bahamas, Trinidad, Germany and South Africa. Her public commissions include Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Jean Childs Young Middle School. As a public artist she enjoys collaborating with other artists and groups on large-scale assemblages such as The East Atlanta Library. Her artwork is also in the collection of the Birmingham Museum of Art and the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. A few of Lillian’s favorite things to do are drumming and dancing. 2016 ‘Excellence in Arts’ Awardee - The Bahamas Consulate, Atlanta, GA, 2016 Visual Artist Awardee - National Black Art Festival (NBAF)

William Downs

William Downs, born in Greenville, South Carolina, creates and resides in Atlanta, GA. He earned his multidisciplinary MFA from the Mount Royal School of Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art and his BFA in Painting and Printmaking from the Atlanta College of Art and Design. He continues his educational practice as a visiting guest lecturer and adjunct professor.
Downs has shown in a sundry of group and solo exhibitions at venues across the United States and abroad including: E.C. Lina Gallery, LA, Contemporary Art Museum, MS, and the Century Gallery in London. In 2018, he received the Artadia Award and a Nellie Mae Rowe Fellowship at the Hambidge Creative Residency Center Program. Downs’ work featured in the Art AIDS America exhibition which toured nationally for a year headed by Rock Hushka and Johnathan Katz. Following, his work was chosen for the prolific Black Pulp! exhibition piloted by the International Print Center New York. This exhibit also showed at The Contemporary Art Museum at the University of South Florida and the African American Museum in Philadelphia.

Shanequa Gay

Shanequa Gay, an Atlanta native, has drawn praise and critical acclaim for her depictions of southern life and black women. Her current work, The FAIR GAME Project, is art as advocacy which challenges the unyielding violence and injustices committed in America and across the globe against the black body. Gay has exhibited her work at prestigious venues and events including the Chattanooga African American Museum, the Hammonds House Museum, the Hunter Museum of American Art, the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History, Emory University, Mason Murer, and the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. Her work is among public and private collections including actor Samuel L. Jackson and the permanent collection for SCAD Hong Kong. Gay’s work was featured in the 2014 Lions Gate film Addicted, the television series Being Mary Jane, the BET series Zoe and the 2016 OWN series Greenleaf. She was chosen by The Congressional Club to be the illustrator for the 2013 First Lady’s Luncheon hostess gift. First Lady Michelle Obama and more than 1,800 attendees received the gift. She is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and the Art Institute of Atlanta. She was one of 6 artists chosen for WonderRoot’s 2015 Community Supported Arts Program and is currently an Artist-in-Residence at The Goat Farm through The Creatives Project Artist-in-Studio Program (2015-2017).

Myra Greene

Myra Greene uses a diverse photographic practice and fabric manipulations to explore representations of race. Greene is currently working on a new body of work that uses African textiles as a material and pattern as well as color as medium to explore her own relationship to culture. Her work is in the permanent collection of Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, the Princeton University Art Museum and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Myra Greene’s work has been featured in nationally exhibitions in galleries and museums including The New York Public Library, Duke Center for Documentary Studies, Williams College Museum of Art, Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, and Sculpture Center in New York City. Myra Greene was born in New York City and received her B.F.A. from Washington University in St. Louis and her M.F.A. in photography from the University of New Mexico. Myra is a Professor of Photography, and the Chair of the Department of Art & Visual Culture at Spelman College. She is represented by Patron Gallery in Chicago, and Corvi-Mora in London.

Jesse Pratt Lopez

Jesse Pratt López is an Atlanta-based photographer, activist and community organizer. She is also a proud Trans woman, Latina, and immigrant. She was born in Cali, Colombia and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. López uses her artwork and platform to visibilize queer and trans folks, people of color, undocumented folks, HIV+ folks, and others from communities that are criminalized and erased. Her work focuses on many aspects of the queer & trans experience; she has organized with SFQP and curated an a five part show which included an exhibition aiming at destigmatizing and highlighting sex work as not only work, but as an artform. She is also the founder of the Trans Housing Coalition , a project that began as a photography-based crowdfunding campaign, aimed at alleviating chronic homelessness in the TGNC (Trans & Gender Non-Conforming) community in Atlanta.
Although she has worked primarily as a documentarian and photojournalist, mostly documenting immigrant communities in the deep South, López’s personal work ranges from experimental digital photographs visualizing the experience of gender dysphoria and the fetishization of trans bodies, to introspective large format 4x5 film introspective self portraits, completely obscuring gender in their creation. She prefers to document those communities which she has a personal connection with most: many of her longer and most successful projects, such as “Unlikely Undocumented ” or “The Hoe Stroll on Piedmont,” intimately capture the lives of queer and trans folks whom she calls her chosen family; for many queer and trans folks, chosen family is all they have. Many of her personal stories dissect gender and the performative role it plays in our society. She believes that identity informs everything in society and that it is almost impossible to separate the art from the artist. Ultimately, she hopes to make photography a more accessible medium. López has been published in both print magazines (Wussy Mag, local) and national publications, such as: Atlantic Magazine , The Hechinger Report , The Guardian , and PBS NewsHour. She also has exhibited work in places such as the Center for Civil and Human Rights and Mason Fine Art in Atlanta. Pre-pandemic, you could find her at your local under-ground queer dance party, documenting the marginalized bodies dancing to a rhythm of resistance, while she twirled on the dancefloor herself.

Courtney McClellan

Courtney McClellan is an artist and writer from Greensboro, N.C. She earned her B.A. in Studio Art and Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2008, and in 2013, she earned her M.F.A. from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In 2013-2014, she was the Fountainhead Fellow in the Sculpture and Extended Media Department at Virginia Commonwealth University, and from 2015-2017 she was the Sculpture Fellow at the University of Georgia. She was a 2017-2018 Museum of Fine Arts Boston Traveling Fellow, and she as been an artist in residence at the Hambidge Center, Wassaic Projects, and Yaddo. Her work is included in SculptureCenter’s exhibition In Practice: Another Echo. She has been awarded the 2019-2020 Roman J. Witt Residency at the University of Michigan. There she will create Witness Lab, an interdisciplinary, collaborative project with the Stamps School of Art students and faculty. The resulting performance project will be exhibited at the University of Michigan Museum of Art in Spring 2020. Additionally, she is a 2019-2020 Working Artist Project Fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. She will mount a solo exhibition at MOCA GA in summer of 2020. Currently, she serves as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Georgia in Athens. She lives in Atlanta, G.A.

Michi Meko

Multidisciplinary artist Michi Meko (b. 1974, Florence, Alabama) draws influence from Southern culture and contemporary urban. He has an uncanny ability to inspire an urbanized aesthetic that is innovative, challenging and thoughtful. The works allude to conditions both physical and psychological. His work is a proclamation of strength, perseverance and remembrance. He is represented by Alan Avery Art Company, Atlanta. Michi Meko lives and works in Atlanta.

Eleanor Neal

Eleanor Neal received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Eleanor lives in Atlanta, GA. Exhibitions include MOCA GA, 2019, Gathered IV. She was also an award winner in the exhibition. Her work was selected for the MOCA GA Works on Paper: 1980-2013 Women from the Permanent Collection Exhibition. Eleanor has exhibited at the Sullivan Gallery at the Art Institute of Chicago. Eleanor was selected by High Museum of Art curator, Michael Rooks for the WonderRoot CSA Program. Eleanor is in the collection at Clark Atlanta University Museum. The Hampton University prestigious Elizabeth Catlett Printmaking Award 2016/2012. Eleanor’s winning artwork was featured in the International Review of African American Art magazine. In 2020 Eleanor was selected as a finalist for the Forward Arts Edge Award. Her artwork will be featured in 2021 at Swan Coach House Gallery. The Sarah Ball Allis Museum in Milwaukee will feature her artwork in 2021. Eleanor has been featured in Anamesa, the journal of New York University’s Graduate School of Arts and Science. The Center of Contemporary Printmaking, Norwalk, Connecticut selected her artwork for the International Footprint Biennial Exhibition. Eleanor was selected for the Faith Ringgold, fellowship, AnyOne Can Fly Printmaking Award. The award was designed for women printmakers and held at the Experimental Printmaking Institute at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania under the direction of master printmaker Curlee Holton.
Other exhibitions include Chastain Arts Center, Atlanta, GA.; Swan Coach House, Atlanta, GA; Women’s Caucus for Art of Georgia, The Steffan Thomas Museum, Buckhead, GA; The Saco Museum in Saco, Maine. Eleanor is a graduate mentor for the Low-Res MFA program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The College Board and Educational Testing selected Eleanor for the AP Studio Art Program as an AP Reader in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Artists residencies include Hambidge Artists Residency, Rabun Gap, GA; Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, Vermont; Haystack School of Crafts, Deer Isle, Maine, and Maine College of Art, Portland, Maine. Eleanor has presented workshops at NAEA, the National Art Educators Association; MOCA GA, SGCI Panel-Printmaking Artists of the African Diaspora, 2017 at Kennesaw College. Eleanor has been featured in Burnaway, 2018.

Yanique Norman

Yanique Norman is a multimedia artist whose work primarily deals with privilege and nationalistic ideologies all the while pondering a decolonial future. In an ongoing series that predominately feature collage on paper, video and sculpture, Norman reworks official portraits of Presidential wives so as to allude to a troubled past. Work serves as a reclamation project by reimagining iconic images so as to both reflect and institute a fungible counter narrative regarding blackness. Currently based out of Atlanta, Norman is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA, 2018) and Georgia State University (BFA, 2014). Recent exhibitions include NADA House (New York); Sullivan Galleries (Chicago); Sandler Hudson Gallery (Atlanta); Hudgens Center for the Arts (Duluth); Mast (Atlanta); Illges Gallery at Columbus State University (Columbus); Gallery 72 (Atlanta); Zuckerman Museum of Art (Kennesaw); The Atlanta Contemporary and Museum of Contemporary art of Georgia. Her work is in the public collections of the High Museum; Hammonds House Museum and the Clark Atlanta University Art Museum. In 2018, she was awarded the Susan Antinori Visual Artist Grant. In 2020, Norman will have her first solo museum exhibition at Albany Museum of Art.

Lucha Rodríguez

Lucha Rodríguez is a Venezuelan artist based in Atlanta, GA. She received her M.F.A. from Savannah College of Art and Design (Atlanta, GA) and her B.F.A. from The Art Institute of Atlanta (Atlanta, GA). During her career, she has been featured in group and solo exhibitions in the U.S. and internationally in India, Mexico, China, and France. Rodríguez’s work has been exhibited most recently at The National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, D.C.), The Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia (Atlanta, GA), Union College Feigenbaum Center for Visual Arts Crowell and West Galleries (Schenectady, NY), Ortega y Gasset Projects (Brooklyn, NY), Telfair Museum (Savannah, GA), and the University of Central Florida (Orlando, Florida). Her work has been featured in Albany Times Union, The Hong Kong Standard, The Nashville Scene, and The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, among others.
Rodríguez has been an artist-in-residence at Wassaic Project (Wassaic, NY), Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT), MASS MoCA (North Adams, MA), Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences (Rabun Gap, GA) and ChaNorth (Pine Plains, NY). Rodríguez is a 2016 Fulton County Arts and Culture Artist Grant recipient and the 2010 Forward Arts Foundation Edge Award Awardee. In the academic field, Rodríguez has been invited as a visiting artist and guest lecturer at Kennesaw State University, UGA Lamar Dodd School of Art, Emory University as well as a guest lecturer at The Savannah College of Art and Design Lacoste, Hong Kong and Savannah campuses. More recently in 2020 Rodríguez lectured at Union College in Schenectady, NY.

Hasani Sahlehe

Hasani Sahlehe (b. 1991 St Thomas, USVI) is a multidisciplinary artist residing in Atlanta, GA. He recently earned his BFA in Painting at The Savannah College of Art and Design. Sahlehe’s work explores the transfer of information. His work has been exhibited in the Southeast and is held in private collections throughout The United States, England, and Virgin Islands.


Zipporah Camille Thompson

Zipporah Camille Thompson is a visual artist and sculptor based in Atlanta, Georgia. Thompson explores ritual and alchemical transformations through the unknown and through universals, including death, catastrophe, chaos, and the cosmos. She received her MFA from the University of Georgia and her BFA from the University of North Carolina Charlotte.  Her work has been featured in a number of print and online publications. She has shown at the Zuckerman Museum of Art, Trestle Gallery in Brooklyn, Rogue Space in Chelsea, the Georgia Museum of Art, and Whitespace Gallery in Atlanta, GA, as well as a host of other venues and spaces.  Her work is included in numerous private collections.  Zipporah Camille Thompson is a 2016 Artadia (Atlanta) Finalist, a Hambidge Distinguished Fellow, a former resident of ACRE Projects and Elsewhere Museum, and is a Hambidge Creative Hive Project Artist.  Thompson is most recently a recipient of the Zenobia Scholarship Award for residency at the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, in Newcastle, ME, a 2018 NCECA Multicultural Fellow, and a 2018 Idea Capital Research & Development Travel grantee.   She is currently a selected artist for The Creatives Program, with studio residency at The Goat Farm.  Thompson is represented by Whitespace Gallery in Atlanta, GA.

Tori Tinsley

Tori Tinsley (b. 1980) is an Atlanta-based artist. With the use of dark humor, her work explores the layered emotions and vulnerability inherent in caring for another. Past awards include an Idea Capital Grant (2015), City of Atlanta Emerging Artist Award (2016), and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant (2016).

Regina Agu

Regina Agu was born in Houston, TX. She lives and works in Chicago, IL, and her practice is deeply rooted in the Gulf South. Her work has been included in exhibitions, public readings, publications, and performances internationally. Her first solo museum installation, Passage, was presented at the New Orleans Museum of Art (2019-2020). Agu was awarded a Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts + Project Row Houses fellowship at the University of Houston for her research on Emancipation Park, and a residency at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans through a partnership with For Freedoms. Agu received a 2017 Artadia Houston award and was a 2016-2017 Open Sessions participant at The Drawing Center in NYC. From 2014-2017, Agu was the co-director of Alabama Song, a collaboratively-run art space in Third Ward, Houston, which received a 2016 SEED grant from The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Agu is the founder of the Houston-based WOC Reading Group, and her other collaborative projects include Friends of Angela Davis Park and the Houston-based independent small press paratext.

Marianne Desmarais

Marianne Desmarais’ work has been featured in Ceramics Monthly and Pelican Bomb, with collaborative work appearing in Azure and FiberArts magazines. Recent solo shows in New Orleans include gather at Staple Goods Gallery, Polymorphs at Cole Pratt Gallery, and samples + patches, an exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center. She has participated in group shows at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Antenna Gallery, and The Front in New Orleans. Her work has traveled internationally with the Imago Mundi collection for the Benetton Foundation and has been shown in venues in New York, Toronto, and Detroit. In 2016, the CAC presented her sculpture Glyphic Figure in a limited edition as the Silver Circle Sculpture.
The work engages material and structural behavior to explore the relationships between parts in a system or an assemblage. A ruleset developed in response to a curiosity leads through process to mark making, complexity, and the emergence of new formal properties. This evolution of operations reveals a shifting space between the flat and the dimensional, between liquid and solid states, and between layered moments in time.
Born in Gulfport, Mississippi and raised in Florida, Marianne Desmarais lives and works in New Orleans. She holds Masters of Architecture I + II degrees from Tulane University and Cranbrook Academy of Art respectively, and has studied abroad at the Edinburgh College of Art. In addition to studio art, Marianne Desmarais is an architect and an educator at the Tulane School of Architecture.

Nekisha Durrett

Durrett currently lives and works in Washington, DC where she creates bold and playful large scale installations and public art that aim to make the ordinary enchanting and awe inspiring while summoning subject matter that is often hidden from plain sight. She earned her BFA at The Cooper Union in New York City and MFA from The University of Michigan School of Art and Design as a Horace H. Rackham Fellow. Durrett has exhibited her work throughout the Washington, DC area to include the US Botanic Garden, West End Library, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, Flashpoint and Hillyer Art Galleries, and Arlington Arts Center. Nationally, she has exhibited at Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe AZ; Diaspora Vibe Gallery, Miami, Fl; Rush and Corridor Galleries, New York. Durrett has been named one of 40 Under 40 Washingtonians to Watch by Washingtonian Magazine, received multiple project grants from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and was an Artist-in-Residence at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont. Durrett is currently a finalist in the National Portrait Gallery’s prestigious Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition and is featured in “The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today” exhibition. Her most recent installation titled “Up ‘til Now”, a freestanding, solar powered sculpture that evokes the history of Washington, DC’s landscape and architecture, can be found in Washington’s Dupont Circle neighborhood. She is currently in production on numerous projects including a permanent installation on the glass- walled vestibule in the newly renovated Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in Washington and a wall mounted public sculpture in the Liberty City community of Miami, Florida in collaboration with conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas.

Katie Hargrave

Katie Hargrave (b. 1985 Chicago, resides Chattanooga, TN) is a professor at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. She received her MFA in Intermedia from the University of Iowa, MA from Brandeis University, and BFA from the University of Illinois. Her work has been shown at DIY spaces, university galleries, non-profits, and festivals. She is a member of the collaborative groups “The Think Tank that has yet to be named” and “Like Riding a Bicycle.”

Meredith Lynn

Meredith Lynn is an artist, curator, and educator based in Tallahassee. Through her creative and scholarly projects she researches the impacts of climate change and land management and ownership. Her work has recently been shown at the Morris Graves Museum of Art (Eureka, CA), the Alexander Brest Gallery at Jacksonville University, and Frontier Space (Missoula, MT). She has been an artist in residence at the Jentel Foundation (Sheridan, WY), Kimmel Harding Nelson (Nebraska City, NE), and Signal Fire (Portland, OR). Her curatorial projects have been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, the Indiana Arts Commission, and the Minnesota State Arts Board. She is the curator of the Museum of Fine of Arts at Florida State University where she teaches in the Departments of Art and Art History.

L. Kasmiu Harris

L. Kasimu Harris is a New Orleans-based artist whose practice deposits a number of different strategic and conceptual devices in order to push narratives. He strives to tell stories of underrepresented communities in New Orleans and beyond. Harris has shown in numerous group exhibitions across the US and two international exhibitions and has had five solo photography exhibitions.
This year, Harris was among 60 artists selected nationwide for State of the Art 2020 at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and had a solo exhibition, Vanishing Black Bars & Lounges: Photographs by L. Kasimu Harris at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center in Pittsburgh. His work was also in group exhibitions at the Ford Foundation Gallery and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. His writing and photographs were also featured in ” A Shot Before Last Call: Capturing New Orleans’s Vanishing Black Bars” that was published in The New York Times.
Harris’s feature for Edible New Orleans was selected for the book Best Food Writing 2016 and he has penned food columns for the Bitter Southerner. And his essay, The Dismantling of Southern Photography was published in the Ogden Museum of Southern Art’s catalog, “New Southern Photography.” Harris has images in several publications including Dandy Lion: The Black Dandy and Street Style, by Shantrelle P. Lewis by Aperture.
Harris earned a BBA in Entrepreneurship from Middle Tennessee State University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Mississippi. He is on the Board of Trustees at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, as well as the Board of Directors of the New Orleans Photo Alliance and is a member of the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance and the Antenna Gallery Collective.
Harris was a 2018 Artist-in-Residence at the Center for Photography at Woodstock and is a 2020 Joan Mitchell Center Artist-in-Residence. He has also furthered his studies at the Fellowship for Young Journalists at the Poynter Institute and was selected for the Oxford American Summit for Ambitious Writers, where he studied with Jay Jennings for a week in creatively intensive workshops and manuscript critiques.
Harris was named one of 8 “Louisianians of the Year” for 2017 by Louisiana Life magazine. He has work in the permanent collections of Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, New Orleans Museum of Art, The Wedge Collection, and The Do Good Fund and others.

Donté K. Hayes

Donté K. Hayes graduated summa cum laude from Kennesaw State University at Kennesaw, Georgia with a BFA in Ceramics and Printmaking with an Art History minor. Hayes received his MA and MFA with honors from the University of Iowa and is the 2017 recipient of the University of Iowa Arts Fellowship. Recent art exhibitions include group shows at the Museum of Science + Industry in Chicago, Illinois, the Association of Visual Arts in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia in Atlanta. Donté’s artwork has been presented at the 1-54 art fair in London, England and at Design Miami in Florida. He has also been included in exhibitions from the Red Clay Survey at the Huntsville Museum of Art in Huntsville, Alabama, The Backbone of Things: International Show of Ceramics at Te Auaha Gallery in Wellington, New Zealand, and Welcome to the Afrofuture: Ground Zero at the New Orleans African American Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana. Hayes, is a 2019 Ceramics Monthly Magazine Emerging Artists and Artaxis Fellow. Donté is the 2019 winner of the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art from the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina. Donté K. Hayes is represented by Mindy Solomon Gallery in Miami, Florida.

Le'Andra LeSeur

Le’Andra LeSeur (b. 1989 in Bronx, NY) is an artist working primarily with video, installation, photography, painting, and performance. Her work celebrates blackness, contemplates the experience of invisibility, and seeks to dismantle stereotypes surrounding black female identity, among other subject matters.

Awards include Leslie-Lohman Museum Artists Fellowship (2019), the Time-Based Medium Prize as well as the Juried Grand Prize at Artprize 10 (2018). LeSeur recently appeared in conversation with Marilyn Minter at the Brooklyn Museum, presented by the Tory Burch Foundation and has lectured at RISD Museum of Art, Providence, RI, and SCAD Atlanta, among others.

Her work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions at A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; Assembly Room, New York, NY; Microscope Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; Anacostia Art Center, Washington, DC; SITELAB, Grand Rapids, MI; Arnika Dawkins, Atlanta, GA; and others. Residences include NARS Foundation, Marble House Project, and Mass MoCA. LeSeur is represented by Microscope Gallery.

Michelle Lisa Pollissaint

Michelle Lisa Polissaint is a Haitian-American visual artist & arts organizer based in Miami, Florida. She is a resident artist at Bakehouse Art Complex and is represented by Spinello Projects.
As an artist she explores the nature of human interaction through textiles and photographs. Her organizing practice is focused on the intersections between art, community and activism. She produces community-based activations and encourages artists and community members to form collaborative relationships.
She is currently working on two series concurrently. If Home Was Home is a body of work documenting trips and interactions with her parents and family in Vieux-Bourg-d’Aquin, Haiti. If Home Was Home was born in the wake of previous series of self-portraits, dancing with myself, which explored her relationship with herself away from the guidance of her parents. The Ballad of Me & You is an ongoing visual conversation through mixed media textile works using her own images and stories as a base. These pieces are a meditation on her failures and successes in romantic relationships, searching for light and joy in the reality of broken relationships and successful partnerships.

Saba Taj

Saba Taj is a visual artist based out of Durham, NC. Inspired by Islamic stories, sci-fi, and revolution, Taj’s work explores representation, the gaze, queerness, and the body. They employ practices including mixed-media drawing, painting, and collage, as well as sewing and performance. Through these techniques, Taj seeks to celebrate subjects who are often characterized as monstrous, highlighting their hybridity, liminality, and dignity as an embodied resistance to subjugation. Taj was the 2019-2020 post-MFA Fellow for the Documentary Diversity Project at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. They are the former Executive Director of The Carrack Modern Art, Southern Constellations Fellow at Elsewhere Museum, and featured speaker at TEDxDuke in 2017. Taj received a BA in Art Education from North Carolina Central University, and an MFA in Studio Art from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Their work has been featured in The Guardian and Huffington Post.

Melissa Vandenberg

Born and educated in Detroit, Melissa is a multidisciplinary artist and educator living in Eastern Kentucky. Her studio practice surveys national identity, folk art, ancestry, immigration, and the evolving perception of a “homeland.” Questions surrounding patriotism, pride and partisanship begin to emerge in work that is both satirical and idealistic. She gravitates to commonplace materials like stick matches, textiles, flags, stickers, wood, and other domicile objects. The resulting soft sculptures, photographs, performances, and non-traditional drawings have been exhibited in Canada, Germany, Luxembourg, Iceland, Sweden, Poland, and throughout the United States. Melissa received a BFA from Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan (1999), and an MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale (2005). She has been the recipient of numerous grants including a Kentucky Foundation for Women Artist Enrichment Grant, the Al Smith Fellowship, Great Meadows Foundation Travel Grants, and was shortlisted for the Luxembourg Art Prize in 2016. Melissa is currently an Associate Professor of Art at Eastern Kentucky University, where she has taught for the past decade.
Melissa is represented by Maus Contemporary in Birmingham, AL.

Jose Villalobos

Jose Villalobos is known for artistically protesting culturally-accepted traits of toxic masculinity through performance, installation, sculpture, drawings and fashion.Villalobos grew up on the U.S./Mexico border in El Paso, Tex., and was raised in a traditional conservative family. His oeuvre reconciles the identity challenges in his life, caught in between traditional Mexican customs and American mores, as well as growing up with religious ideals that conflict with being gay. In his work he confronts the derogatory terms and attitudes with which Villalobos continues to withstand today.
“The root of Villalobos work lies in the performativity of his identity,” says Marissa Del Toro, curatorial fellow at the Phoenix Art Museum. “His accoutrements are proud connections to his heritage but also reminders of the hate and homophobia that he has had to endure.”
Villalobos recently earned a Joan Mitchell Painters & Sculptures grant and residency and is also a recipient of the Tanne Foundation Award. His work was featured in the nationally recognized exhibition “Trans America/n: Gender, Identity, Appearance Today” at the McNay Art Museum, and was included in 11 other group exhibitions as well as four solo exhibitions across the country in 2019.

Christins Renfer Vogel

Christina Renfer Vogel holds a MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and a BFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University. Recently her work has been included in a solo exhibition at the David Lusk Gallery (Nashville, TN) and group exhibitions at the Asheville Art Museum (Asheville, NC) and LABspace (Hillsdale, NY). Vogel has participated in artist residencies including the JSS in Civita program (Civita Castellana, Italy), the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (Amherst, VA), and the Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT). She is a recipient of a Lighton International Artists Exchange Program grant and an Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation grant, among other awards. Vogel currently serves as associate professor of painting and drawing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Abdi Farah

My mother shortened my name from Abdullahi to Abdi when I was 5, predicting that kindergarteners in suburban Maryland might have trouble pronouncing the four-syllable Arabic word. Physically, I take almost completely after my absentee Somali father, and I have a different last name than all of my mom’s family: the Stewarts. A love and dedication to making stands as the most potent genetic link to the Stewarts, my only inheritance from this working poor family.
My Grandfather, Claude Stewart, built ships for Bethlehem Steel and hand carved model clipper ships. His son, my uncle Frank, worked on the tunnels that connect Baltimore to DC. He practices ikebana on his days off. Every few years my mother, Donna, retells the story of how her and my aunt Romaine made their prom dresses from scratch. As a sheltered suburban kid, drawing was the only shared language between me and my streetsmart older cousins, Frankie and Hugh. We would sharpen pencils with dinner knives and sit around the kitchen table drawing for hours.
The child of an itinerant single mom, I attended four elementary schools. Always the new kid, drawing served as my means of making friends. I would draw classmates’ favorite superheroes or write their names in fancy lettering. With each new school, I would rush to assume my role as the resident artist. There remains a purity in that blatant need for acceptance and desire to fulfill a role that I continue to wrestle with in my current life as an artist.

In shortening my name, my mom unknowingly changed its meaning from Servant of Allah, (Abdullahi) to just Servant (Abdi). I believe this act of renaming posits an outlook on identity and belonging linked less to culture and ethnicity and more to one’s actions. Who I am is less where I’m from or how different I look, but rather what I choose to do.Like the Stewarts, my relatives and loved ones are those who choose to make.

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