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Supported by the Power – Lonnie Holley

Exhibiting in the John Hope Franklin Gallery from December 15, 2015 – February 26, 2016.

 

Lonnie Holley is the artist working today who can best eliminate the barrier between taught and untaught art. This collapse of dividers, not unlike racial ones, represents a declassification or deconstruction of a deeply troubling history in order to create a more communitarian future.

Holley is a peerless artist who we best label contemporary, not folk. His sense of contemporary is more closely aligned with current social and political events than most contemporary artists who seem to have only evolved their use of materials.

In Lonnie Holley: Supported by the Power, sculptures emerge from Alabama yards and Atlanta corners. Holley’s themes in his art and music run concurrent to contemporary actualities: post-Jim Crow race pathologies or a recycling of consumer goods towards a more sustainable future.   His story is a southern tale. The history of the South conjures the most American of stories: a story of oppression from tilled fields and small yards to urban corners of southern and northern cities.

Holley, when compared to an exemplary artist like Robert Rauschenberg, creates works which are more zen-like, less neurotic and contradictory and more future-predictive in terms of 1/ connecting to tradition 2/ a recycling of materials to make a more sustainable art 3/ creating works with fewer conservation problems as they are already time-rendered 4/ its connection to music 5/ creating a language of liberation 6/ the connection to nature and local specificities.

On the main wall we see four totemic, cruciform-like works which convey the African-American exigency of forced labor, suffering and the genesis of religious sanctuary.   On the end wall, Never to be Opened Again, made by Holley in post-Katrina New Orleans, depicts a local history in ruins, a result of the baneful mix of a corrupted nature and politics.   In the two remaining works, Supported by the Power and The Catholic Ladies’ Picture, Holley creates a personal history (auto-portraiture as empowerment) and a conceptual nod to art history (art objects as carriers of power). Supported by the Power, consisting solely of 7 sculptures, we can still grasp the sum power of Lonnie Holley’s work.

Special thanks are due to: the artist, Matt and William Arnett, Bradford Cox, Rodney and Nancy Gould, MA, Joan and Michael Salke, MA, Jason Doty, Giovanni Zanalda and Lauren Feilich.

Events

For Catalina’s Time

For Catalina's Time

For Catalina’s Time is a time-based series of photographs and footage by anthropologist and filmmaker Sandra Luz Barroso. The exhibit is complemented by ten pieces of graphic work made by Oaxacan artists titled ARTEZA (Trough). The exhibition is part of the process of completing the documentary ARTEMIO (2017) by Sandra Luz Barroso.

This project documents a decade of field work in the Costa Chica of Oaxaca, Mexico, where a number of communities of African descent live. Little research had been done in such communities and their social and community practices changed with the pressures of modernization and migration. Doña Catalina was an elderly woman who maintained traditional knowledge in the form of songs, stories of origin, culinary and medicinal practices. As ethnographer and visual anthropologist Sandra Luz Barroso spent several years doing field work in these communities where she developed a closer elationship with the subject of this exhibit.

“As an anthropologist I decided to research the history of their songs (son de artesa), transmitted via oral tradition by using audiovisual means. I met Catalina Noyola Bruno who told me stories of origin, of her people and of the son de artesa. I collected the stories and taped the songs without a final objective. Catalina passed away a few months after our last encounter, then I decided to focus on visual narratives to support the ethnographic studies of these communities.

For me, the Costa Chica is where I discovered that the sea has a name, a female name. I met a woman, Catalina, who danced, sang, and told the most beautiful sonnets I had ever heard. She spoke about walking around the world making what your heart dictates, and enjoying every day as the last one. She not only spoke, she embodied such words in her fragile figure of a woman that did not know how old it was. This far away land, in which the turtles go to nest, where a pond gives you light of many colors, where the sand sparkles at night, is magic.

I was fortunate to get to know Catalina in her last years, being the person who was there to hear her stories and memories drives me to share them with more people. Sharing my experiences with her, the spaces, and the communities one inhabits makes you whole.”

Sandra Luz Barroso