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The Personal and the Cultural

Thu, 05/19/2022 - 02:30
Mickalene Thomas and Racquel Chevremont, curators of the Parrish Art Museum's exhibition "Set It Off"
Jon Jenkins

Racquel Chevremont and Mickalene Thomas, known collectively as Deux Femmes Noires, have brought "Set It Off," an exhibition of work by six female artists who work in a range of mediums and styles, to the Parrish Art Museum.

The curators' goal is to highlight the work of artists of color, with an emphasis on women. The show includes work by Leilah Babirye, Torkwase Dyson, February James, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Karyn Olivier, and Kennedy Yanko. It will open at the museum in Water Mill on Sunday and continue through July 24.

“For 'Set It Off,' we wanted to bring together a group of women . . . whose subject matter spans the personal, historical, and cultural,” the curators said. “Each was chosen for their unique artistic language, for forging their own path, and creating work that transcends traditional formal and art historical structures.”

The show includes more than 50 works, many never before seen, installed in the museum's galleries and its outdoor meadow. Ms. Babirye will show five free-standing sculptures and two wall-hanging sculptures, each composed of debris collected from the streets of New York, along with elements of ceramics, metal, and/or wood that have been carved, welded, burned, and glazed. 

Ms. Dyson uses different mediums to create paintings that address the connections among ecology, infrastructure, and architecture, with a focus on how Black and brown bodies perceive and negotiate space as information. 

The paintings of Ms. James use muted watercolors and ink, as well as bright pastels and oil paints, to create expressive portraits that reflect on perceived Black identity, both communal and personal.

The text-based works of Ms. Rasheed "grapple with the poetics-pleasures-politics of Black knowledge production, information technologies, [un]learning, and belief formation," she has said. They include architecturally scaled Xerox-based collages, large public installations, publications, lecture-performances, and more.

Ms. Olivier's sculptures and installations engage history and memory through the manipulation of ordinary objects and spaces. For "Set It Off" she will show a series of photographic prints on varied materials encased in asphalt and roofing tar, as well as a large-scale sculpture.

Ms. Yanko uses material taken from salvage yards along with dried paint skins, metal, marble, and glass, to create monumentally scaled sculptures that explore how human perception and societal expectations are often at odds.

"Set It Off " is the curators' third project together. Ms. Chevremont is an art consultant who advises institutions, corporations, collectors, and artists. She has served on the acquisitions committees of the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

Ms. Thomas is a visual artist best known for her complex works composed of rhinestones, acrylic, and enamel. Her work examines how identity, gender, and sense of self are informed by the ways women are represented in art and popular culture.


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