30 items found
- I had a vision and it came to life...
When I saw artist, organizer and radical librarian April Parker on the cover of Triad City Beat, our local independent publication in Greensboro, NC, I was immediately struck with a desire to draw her. She was poised elegantly and forthrightly on an outdoor site that had been emptied of its Confederate statue. She was reclaiming this space, centering the Black experience in American history, for her performance art piece "Unveiling Monuments." Parker created this work as the inaugural Creative Catalyst Fellow at Elsewhere Museum, a thrift store turned collaborative artist residency space and museum, in downtown Greensboro. A few weeks after I had this vision, Matthew Giddings, Elsewhere's executive director, reached out to me to commission a gift of artwork for April to recognize her fellowship work. He gave me Sankofa as the theme -- the west African word which means " to go back, to retrieve." It speaks to the continuity of connection between ancestors and the living. I didn't tell him about the vision I had; in fact, I played coy and offered to sell him a print from my Motherland Speaks series. He told me he'd be happy to promote the series, but he wanted a one-of-a-kind gift for April. I accepted the commission and got to work. The Artwork and My Artistic Process My approach to this commission was to view more images of Parker's performance work for Unveiling Monuments. I watched a Facebook Live video of her discussing accountability for systemic inequality with Triad City Beat reporter Sayaka Matsuoka as she stood in front of the International Civil Rights Museum. She had just shutdown Elm Street, downtown Greensboro's main thoroughfare, by bringing a group of Black women to stand in the street in front of the museum and having Giddings block traffic with his car. I screenshot multiple images of her interview in that moment and created a photo collage of captured shots. I chose undiluted, jet black Sumi ink and a fragment of broken glass pipette (bottom left photo) to record an image of her in a 12” x 16” portrait (upper left photo). I chose this piece of broken glass pipette as my drawing tool because Parker speaks the wounds of Black people in America, and to demonstrate that something beautiful can emerge from something broken. I also used a foam-tipped instrument for accent line work in this piece. The eye symbols you see in April’s upper torso were an intuitive addition, and she is adorned with marks reminiscent of African bib necklaces. I was struck by April’s fierce beauty in the video, and I wanted to capture and honor that beauty. I hope you feel my love and admiration for April’s spirit when you look at this representation of her. Her work with Unveiling Monuments resonated with me, and I felt seen and heard as a Black American woman through her performance art. I also created a smaller piece (upper right photo) which includes an image of April in front of the International Civil Rights Museum on the day of the Unveiling Monuments Elm Street shutdown. I layered on top of April’s figure multiple hand-drawn digital images of the traditional Sankofa bird to create a suit of armor for April. This use of the bird imagery invokes ancestral protection for April for her artwork and life journey. I offer April a sense of purpose that may constrain her, but also serves as a source of comfort and support as she acts as a warrior of truth and generational healing. Gift-Giving Ceremony @ Elsewhere Artist to Artist April and Matthew Libation Essentials This commission was truly a case of convergence between April, Matthew and I. And on a sunny, cold February afternoon, it all culminated with a gift-giving session on the back patio behind Elsewhere Museum. I opened the event with a pouring of libation to invoke the ancestors, and unveiled the artwork to a teary-eyed, happy and surprised April. This commission also heralded April's transition to a deeper role within Elsewhere's administration. I was honored to be part of this process, and feel a sense of artistic and personal fulfillment from creating these pieces. The experience felt historic on many levels. You can read the complete media release to learn more about April Parker, Elsewhere Museum and link to the complete gift-giving ceremony video. #blackhistory #blog #history #art #blackwomeninthearts #greensboro #elsewhere #goelsewhere #karenarchia #unveilingmonuments
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- ABOUT | karenarchia
Karen Archia - Visual Artist + Creative Director, Public Art Practice In 2012, I took a step out and exhibited for the first time at Labourlove Gallery in Durham, NC. I painted for many years as an outlet for my own creative voice during two decades of professional, non-profit work where I was writing about and for other people and organizations. Artist Kelly Dew, co-owner of Labourlove Gallery, urged me to exhibit after seeing my work. She also became my first artistic mentor. 2019 offered two major transformative events for me: I closed my coffee/retail shop The People's Perk, in Greensboro, NC after six years; and second, I received a scholarship to attend an art retreat at The Penland School of Craft -- a 100 year-old, internationally-recognized center for creatives in western North Carolina. One change meant the end of an era; the other fed and nurtured by artistry in ways that are still unfolding. You can read my artist statement + exhibition list for a deeper dive into how I approach my artwork. C urrently, I am Artist-in-Residence at the Center for Visual Artists in Greensboro, NC. I work in the front space of the Center, so passersby can see me working and visitation is permitted within COVID-safe requirements. Since I also had a studio space within my coffee shop, art-making in a public setting and creative expression with and around people have become centered in my art practice. I also believe all people fundamentally have a creative spirit and I love to encourage that expression by art-making in community. As a result, I started a community service effort called Public Art Practice (PAP) and hosted 60 free art-making sessions + Open Studios from September 2019 - March 2020 at Deep Roots Market, Greensboro's only community-owned grocery store and cafe, and two art talk/community painting events at the Greensboro Public Library. I plan to grow PAP's partnerships and presence in 2021. Thank you for visiting karenarchia.com. Interested in purchasing art? Check out my Frequently Asked Questions . Or, head over to my online print shop . #patronappreciation Out of gallery