Alternative art experience celebrates artists of color in Iowa

The experience will include a house concert, artist reception and exhibition

CEDAR RAPIDS – A Cedar Rapids artist will showcase and celebrate the art of black artists from around the state and “re-imagine how art is traditionally experienced” starting this weekend.

Akwi Nji, an Iowa-based artist who will host “In Living Color: Black Art in Iowa” at Threshold Gallery, which is located in her 1,200-square-foot home in Cedar Rapids, rather than in a gallery space, a concert venue or a lecture hall. The programmed alternative art experience will be part of the house concert, artist reception and exhibition with a talk by Chicago-based art collector Patric McCoy, who is a “nationally recognized advocate of an egalitarian approach to art curation and collection,” according to the news release. .

Akwi Nji, an Iowa-based artist, is hosting the In Living Color: Black Art exhibit at the Iowa Artist Reception on Saturday. (Amanda Dee Photography)

Fourteen artists are represented in the exhibit, including B. Moore, Jill Wells, Mike Hollingsworth, Nicole Davis, and Jordan Brooks. Some artists are self-taught while others are formally trained.

“This is a collaboration between artists who are interested in disrupting the idea of ​​what it means to be an exhibiting artist and with whom we exhibit or share space,” said Nji. “It’s a reinvention of existing models, and participating artists recognize it as an example of how we can move closer to equal access and representation.”

She said collaborators and supporters of the effort include the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, which facilitated the connection between Nji and McCoy, the Iowa Arts Council and the “powerful” network of Iowa artists, who provided referrals to artists to include in the exhibition. , and thought partners such as Bath-based artist Maxim Jones who has been a consultant as programming details have been finalised.

“The two critical motivations of In Living Color are to provide an anecdote or alternative to the elitism prevalent in traditional settings and to reinforce the role of the everyday citizen as critical in supporting and developing a thriving ecosystem and cultural community,” Nji said in a statement. . “This is a deliberate attempt to blur the lines between traditional, institution-run markets and the equally important markets run by ordinary people.”

One said that Threshold is a concept with no home base, no bricks and mortar, no limited liability company or non-profit status. It is an idea, a concept, a model as transitory and limiting as its name implies.

The event takes a three-pronged approach to celebrating and showcasing visual art and music from Black Iowans:

  • In-person, ticketed event from 5-7pm on Saturday serving as an artist reception, live music house concert, art exhibit and artist talk. Light refreshments will be served.
  • September virtual artist talk series via Zoom and the Threshold Instagram account
  • Virtual, month-long exploration of artists’ works through the Threshold Instagram account until September 30.

“The decision to showcase art only by artists of color in this inaugural Prague experience is informed, in part, by the extensive and troubling data that illustrates the gross underrepresentation of artists of color, women artists, and queer-identifying artists in collections and traditional arts. institutions”, said Nji in a statement.

Event details and tickets for Saturday’s Threshold Experience are $25 and can be purchased via Eventbrite In Living Color: Black Art in Iowa. Follow on Instagram to see artist interviews and virtual exhibition until September 30th.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; [email protected]

What: In Living Color: Black Art in Iowa

When: Saturday from 5 to 7 pm

Where: Private Residence, location will be emailed with ticket confirmation email.

Cost: $25 at

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