Uptown art exhibit to debut curation of black culture

Uptown art exhibit to debut curation of black culture

The Black Space Art Exhibition is not a typical art exhibition. Featuring a DJ and three musical artists, the northeast Gainesville event exemplifies the image of the local black community.

In partnership with Moisturizer Gallery, a nonprofit art gallery in Gainesville, the Black Space Art Exhibit will open Feb. 16 at the Thomas Center and will feature prints, paintings, oils and ceramics created by local and out-of-town black artists.

Lexus Giles, curator of the black space art exhibit, said the exhibit is like a black family reunion.

“It’s community,” she said. “It’s engaging…It’s solidarity and it’s a really, really good time.”

The exhibition will feature about 20 artists, including three musical artists. Among these performers is DJ Wax Atom, a Black DJ based in Gainesville.

“I am honored to be a part of [the exhibit]”, Atom said. “The black experience in America is different from any other, and in turn, black art reflects this difference.”

In her search for black talent to be featured in the exhibition, Giles said she put out an open call for artists to audition and also sent out invitations. “

One of the invitations sent was to Antoine Williams, a multimedia artist and an assistant professor of drawing at UF. The exhibition presents a series of his pen and ink drawings.

Williams said the pieces are from his own research, where he looked at archives of 20th-century Southern farms and migrant workers.

“I’m going into the archives and rethinking some of those moments that I’m seeing,” he said.

One of his paint pieces is titled “Putting Breath into the Body.” He said he was inspired by Christina Sharpe’s book In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, which explores themes of racism and white supremacy.

“Living in a world that’s anti-Black,” he said, “Blacks care and show love to each other, or, like [Sharpe] ‘breathing into the body’ states can be a radical act of survival.

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Giles first came up with the idea for the black space art exhibition about a year ago when he spoke to Des Bassil, the organizer of the Moisturizer Gallery.

“I felt like I was the only African-American female artist in me [art] program,” Giles said. “I wanted to create a space where we are together, bringing us all together and celebrating the uniqueness and power of being black.”

For Giles, the Black Space Art Exhibition is “a place where a person of color doesn’t feel like they need permission to participate and feel a sense of belonging. It promotes, explores and celebrates Blackness.”

She further described the upcoming year’s event as a project created in “opposition, refuge…and ultimately as a source of power” from historical oppressors of the Black community.

Although she is an artist, Giles said she did not want any of her work to appear in the exhibit.

“I feel like this is my job,” she said. Curating this show is my job. I wanted to feature other artists inside, but this whole big baby is mine.”

Because the exhibit is put on by the City of Gainesville, Giles said she has her fingers crossed for a large turnout in “the humblest of ways.”

Guests can enter the Black Space Art Exhibition from 19:00 to 22:00, free of charge.

Contact Tanya Fedak at [email protected]. Follow him on X @ttanyafedak.

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