A review of Medium: Black, the current art show at Rush Arts Gallery.
Pulsating shapes protruded the blank white walls of the Chelsea art gallery as we sat in talks, waiting for the beginning. Questions and inquiries rushed to the consciousness, but there was no one to ask. The artists were not in attendance. It was a WIBO Exclusive Event that encouraged fellow business professionals to mix and mingle over the arts, food, and drink. The inquisitive kid in me wanted to touch the living, palpitating sculptures in the back room where we sat, but I knew better.
Moments later, in walked the event organizers, dressed to “casually” impress. High-brow? Yes, it was in nature, but affable and enjoyable, and all guests seemed to engage with ease. Visual artists, martial artists, journalists, publicists, chefs, and musicians alike, gathered and interacted like we knew each another for years. We were at home; Networking and discussing ourselves, and what surrounded us, with kindred spirits.
Black, a pigment commonly attached to negative connotations, united us and the eight weighty artists (Charlotte Becket, Domonique Duroseau, Parris Jaru, Spencer Merolla, Gabriel J. Shuldiner, Stan Squirewell, Victoria-Idongesit Udondian, and Lerone Wilson). All artists used the color black to tell a story in such a way; it made you wonder about their personal lives, where they’d drawn inspiration.
The largest piece in the gallery belonged to Nigerian artist Victoria-Idongesit Udondian. The Columbia University student found inspiration in the Onile-Gogoro hairstyles documented by the late beauty photographer Okhai Ojeikere, and when looking up close, you could see the exegetical detail and reasoning within the threading (wires and bicycle tubes) and her explicit use of various fabrics. Black hair, in a beauty and image-obsessed society, is a complexity of its own, often pushing the envelope and questioning social norms when other races culturally appropriate our lifestyle choices and habits. Historically, our customs are misused and misrepresented on the world’s stage.
Other works moved me, but the three-dimensional composition (the “Funeral Clothes Project”) by Spencer Merolla exuded union between male(s) and female(s), symbolizing human interaction and compassion through death and mourning mortality. I connected with Charlotte Becket’s “Black Series” sculptures because of its synonymity to human bodily functions.
The task was “to create dramatic works with profound statements. Ranging from mourning traditions, traditional hairstyles, human depth, and spiritual meditations on contemporary and ancient traditions,” and I think all artists achieved their goal. Like now, it was rainy and unseasonably chilly out, but the time spent was worth the experience; Becoming the buffer for a night of live jazz with friends and new business relationships, spawned from a text message by way of Sean Davis.
Medium: Black, curated by Charlotte Mouquin, is on display now until May 20 at the Rush Art Gallery in New York City. The Rush Arts Gallery’s address is at 526 West 26th Street #311 between 10th and 11th Avenues.