Monday, February 21, 2011

Materialization: Past As Present

It is with great pleasure that we present Materialization: Past As Present, in honor of Black History month. The pieces selected for this show employ color and pattern in a way that deals with the subject of history in a unique and strikingly stylistic manner. From the rhythmic and vibrant canvases of Larry Poncho-Brown, to the quilt-like work of Cassandra Jennings-Hall, the artists selected for this show speak to historical themes through contemporary color palettes and media.
Dane Tilghman adds intrigue to historical narrative by reimagining the visual facade of yesteryear. There is a quiet uneasiness when viewing Tilghman’s works, however it is not until one’s gaze settles upon the back of a Model T Ford or the row of Victorian hats amidst atypical hues of lime-green, orange, and lavender that a distinct sense of anachronism is brought to the fore. Whereas history generally might be imagined as black-and-white movies and sepia-tinted photos, Tilghman’s tropical shades remind us that yesterday was once today, carrying with it all the intrigue and excitement of our own present.
David Wilson’s fragmented collages also create a sense of anachronism by creating a distinct tension between medium and subject matter. The juxtaposition of digital collage and images of Americana quilts and clothes hangers fuses past and present together in a way that is both provocative and mystifying. The result is an overwhelming awareness of the ways in which history interrupts the here and now, posing the question: Is anything ever really left in the past?

On the spectrum of works, between Wilson and Tilghman, Indira Bailey elegantly blends past and present through distinct references to South Africa in her renderings of fabric, textile, and color. Basketball sneakers paired with vibrant red headscarves speak to the ways in which the past informs present and future culture. The odd pairings in Bailey’s vignettes suggest that culture is never really new or begotten of nothing but rather the logical outgrowth of the past infused with the values of today.
History is often thought of as static when actually nothing could be further from the truth. The pieces selected for Materialization: Past As Present reinforce the idea that one needs a past to move towards the future, and that, in this way, the past is always in a sort of forward motion. The artists of Materialization: Past As Present build on the momentum of their respective cultural histories and draw from one tangible element of history everyone has equal access to–the visual landscape. Through color, medium, representation, and form, Materialization: Past As Present does not thrust the past upon viewers but rather illuminates all the ways in which it is already present.

Materialization: Past As Present
will be on display through March 4, 2011. This fifth annual Black History Month exhibition is jointly produced by the GE Art Program and Picture That, LLC. If you have any questions about any of the work in the exhibition, please contact Glenn Macura of the GE Art Program at 203-373-2868, or You can also view more work like the pieces selected for this show at

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