Upcoming exhibit at Krannert Art Museum to explore Blackness

Upcoming exhibit at Krannert Art Museum to explore Blackness

Nekita Thomas, one of four School of Art & Design faculty whose work will be featured in the Krannert Art Museum’s upcoming art exhibit “Black on Black on Black on Black,” said she wants viewers to walk away with a new perspective on the Blackness.

“Black is multi-dimensional, period,” Thomas said. “There’s no context you can put on it. Across time, space, music, art and design, there is no one right way to have a black experience.”

The exhibit, which opens on September 24, will explore Black identity and collectivity, among other things, through the lens of the Black Quantum Future philosophy. The exhibition will feature artwork and design by Nekita Thomas, Blair Ebony Smith, Patrick Earl Hammie and Stacey Robinson.

The collage piece, ‘Madame Butterfly’ by Stacey Robinson features a human figure with a security camera head and butterfly wings transitioning into urban architecture on a vertical blue gradient background. (Photo courtesy of Stacey Robinson/Krannert Museum of Art)

Hammie said one aspect that will help the exhibit is that none of the artists need to individually represent Black identity as a whole.

“We’re all at different kinds of levels, maybe emphasizing different elements, so we don’t all have to carry that into every play throughout the show,” Hammie said. “We support each other.”

Smith said each piece in the exhibit carries an aspect of the Black experience.

“Every piece of art or design that we bring to the exhibition is very much based on lived experience,” Smith said. “We explore Black identity, healing, profiteering, innovation and education. This is who we are, these are the living things we do.”

Robinson said that as artists, the four of them are able to physically portray these aspects of Blackness.

“These things, among other things, are things that black people deal with all the time,” Robinson said. “The beautiful thing about the four of us is that we are artists. We can take what’s in our hearts and minds and make it a natural thing.”

The artists said the exhibit is for anyone who wants to see it and wants to start conversations.

Apart from the audience, Smith said the exhibition was for themselves.

“First and foremost, I think this show is for us,” Smith said. “To be able to have space, resources, time and money to achieve this. By being able to do that, we can reach black students and black locals, and people who can relate to this with their own experience.”

“Bev’s Mix” by Blair Ebony Smith presents a collection of polaroid photos and processed film of individual and group family portraits. (Photo courtesy of Blair Ebony Smith/Krannert Art Museum)

Hammie said the four of them working together for this exhibition has brought them closer.

“The show itself is a piece of art that we all worked on together,” Hammie said. “Intellectually, we developed it together, we had the pleasure of having so many meetings together, and we know each other differently and more intimately as creative people.”

Thomas said that while the four of them are all teachers, this exhibit is their chance to be creators.

“You have us as creators, but you also have us as teachers, and I totally used that as an opportunity to focus on myself as a creator, not as a teacher,” Thomas said. “And I fully embraced that for the show and found that as my inspiration.”

All artists have their own sources of inspiration, but they all share the same inspiration from their lived experiences.

“Today, I just open my eyes and I’m black,” Hammie said. “I look at the news and social media and I can’t help but talk, but I don’t have the time or ability to go out and be on the streets, but I do what I do in the studio and in the classroom. .”

Smith said that while the exhibition will be lively and happy, it will also cover serious issues.

“Funk and jazz, happy music will be a part of it, but it’s also about how I remember my ancestors, my parents who aren’t here,” Smith said. “There are many different ways that loss, pain and joy come out in our facilities, and I want all of that to be felt.”

Stacey echoed this, saying that art should be taken seriously.

“Come hungry, because the food is going to be incredible, the beats are going to be incredible, it’s going to be an amazing experience, but don’t take the art for granted,” said Stacey. “Because it isn’t.”

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