11 comments on “Re: Boundless – DAC

  1. I enjoyed your review of the Boundless exhibit that was organized by Deborah Roberts at the Dougherty Arts Center. I found her work to be the strongest in that exhibit, however, I felt that a larger scale would be more true to the work. Deborah has a lot of powerful messages in her work and she needs to say it loud. Some of imagery and style referenced Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work. It was heart-warming hearing her speak at the Panel Discussion held at the Carver Museum. She was honest, unpretentious and very authentic. I can’t wait to see the show at Gallery 107.

    My second favorite was Cauleen Smith’s work. Although, I didn’t really get to see the entire film because of the amount of people at the opening, I thought the imagery was great. I couldn’t quite make out a story, and that was sort of disturbing and intriguing at the same time. The work could have been displayed better, this might be due to limited resources, but I thought the way the installation had been setup was distracting.

    Overall, the exhibit is one of the best I have seen in Austin so far. It was more than just your everyday landscapes and mediocre work you see in every city. It challenged identity & representation. It was uncomfortable, lovely and powerful all at the same time.

  2. I thought I’d better set the record straight about my work Urban Tapestries I & II: Standing on Someone’s Shoulders, since from your review I don’t think you understood it. I am in fact saying the exact opposite of what you stated: the ghetto fabulous “hoochie mama” can only dishonor herself in the way she does because she is ignorant of the rich legacy of powerful, truly race conscious women on whose shoulders she stands. The reason they are veiled is because the veil is metaphor for the invisibility these icons hold in the knowledge base of these young women. That all the ancestral women gave their lives and energies unselfishly so that Black women could stand with dignity in this racist society hell-bent on objectifying them as over-sexualized non-entities, is the paradox. The Yoruba divination verses relate to the myth of Osun and how she gained women their power by being clever and outwitting her male adversaries. The text on the top bar of the pieces states “If Only She Knew” indicating that the young woman standing atop her ancestors is clueless about who these women are and what they stood for. People like Ida B. Wells, Annie Devine, Fannie Lou Hamer, Queen Asantewa, etc would cringe at what the image of Black Woman has become thanks in large part to Hip Hop iconography and mass media proliferation of this stereotype.

  3. I guess you are right. I didn’t understand it. At least not the way you wanted me to.

    Your explanation falls along with what I expected from a group show such as this one. In fact I thought my assessment was a little shaky and turned to the catalogue by Dr. Joni Jones and Omi Osun Olomo for guidance. It seemed to me that the paragraph dedicated to your work was supporting the graphic elements that I was interpreting.

    I did not find anything to suggest that the portraits were of false idols. “…her ability …allows her to be victorious and thereby give blessings to her people.” I had concluded that you were saying, “take what you can get.” Or in other words, use every weapon at your disposal to get what you want.

    So between what I saw and what I read, I understood them to be sincere approvals of that character. Had I seen the text “If Only She Knew”, I might have gotten a more accurate response.

  4. I want to say thank you, Salvador Castillo (and sorry you suffered head pains from this show):

    I think your many visits to the Boundless show allowed you to look at my entire works from edge to edge and not just the figures…and I really appreciate that. They are in my imaginary landscapes for a reason and you have seen it. The air around the figures is active with their energy (notice the curved slashes of color), though they are still. Their energy has fed each successive generation.

    We don’t all dance, sing and flap our long arms.

    What has happened over time is that African Americans have been brainwashed (through racism) to emotionally respond to the pickininnies (I love Deborah’s new work) and think the people who paved the way for us, our own mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers and each generation preceding them are stiff, boring and old fashioned. We generally have no interest in them or what they accomplished, but I am saying we should be interested in our history and especially that history that has been ignored because it could serve us and build self-esteem. We would stop calling each other names and thinking we are ugly. We would not say our own children are stupid and lazy. Racism has allowed this and low self-esteem that does still persist! My Pillars series says, “look where you came from”! No made-up embellishments are really needed.

    Imagine if we did not have the Italian Renaissance portraits, even Mona Lisa, in our art historic mind, our museums and art texts? Who was she, anybody really important? What about the other portraits of Italian merchants wives and daughters we recognize easily and don’t question their importance. Why do we care about them? We care because someone painted them 500 years ago. They were painted as vanity pictures to show that these people could afford a portrait. They documented a middle class.

    My people do look stiff because they were, so I portray them that way. They posed in front of large format cameras that took a while. They dressed in their best to be photographed. They stood still because of the technology but also because they were not about to get sweaty and “messed up” in their good clothes!

    My goal is to resist the stereotype of the dancing negro, the hand wringing negro, the hot-combing negro and the shuffling- along negro in favor of the persons of African descent who served their communities in a dignified manner, still suffering incessant racism when they stepped outside their communities. But when in their neighborhoods they were Past Grand Daughter Rulers of the International Brotherhood of Elks of the World, and Eastern Stars and Masons, church deacons, board members, nurses, etc. Their paying jobs were Pullman Porters, maids, day laborers, if lucky, government clerks, maybe professors in Black universities and in the south, school teachers in black schools.

    My mission is to put them on canvas so that they are remembered, honored, and not forgotten. They represent every American Black person’s history in some respect which is why they are placed in a landscape (on imaginary pedestals) that I hope represent an idealized country with purple mountains majesty in the background that may someday be the real deal for us all.

    Thanks to all who saw the exhibition. I was happy to have a new audience in Austin. I loved my visit thanks to the wonderful women in the show and especially Deborah Roberts.

    I have won a series of solo shows in Chicago awarded by Margaret Hawkins, Artnews correspondent, John Pittman Weber, muralist and Concordia University in October, 2006, February and March 2007.

    My next juried show is in Pittsburgh, Pa. I was selected for the Migrations of the African Diaspora Symposium and exhibition, from May 5 until August 20, 2006 (recommended by Renee Stout for consideration) at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

    Hope to see you all in Austin again.

  5. One more thing for everyone…

    I think it is always important to ask yourself questions about the work.

    When we see work by artists who we are already familiar with or whom we already know in person, we can’t help having a certain bias. That work has already been explained, perhaps, or the artist has a reputation we want to support because someone else we respect has supported the artist.

    I believe the art has to be viewed in a vacuum like nothing else existed before and then later compared to what the artist has already done.

    I believe an artist does not necessarily need to do work that people are comfortable with or that is merely decorative. But sometimes to get a difficult point across the artist can speak softly and not always scream. The point is to do work that makes people think about about what the artist thinks is important, whether creating work about personal or universal issues. (most issues will speak to someone else in the world).

    Also remember many artists including Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne and Pablo Picasso made work that was disparaged by the critics and collectors. All the Impressionists were ridiculed; the Fauves were “wild beasts”! So an artist who creates work that is immediately “cool” and of the moment may be the artist who is a has-been and a hack in the next decade. What one critic hates another might love. Artists create bodies of work and one series may touch the people and be reviled by the critics and vice versa.

    I think any artist should just create from his or her own mind and heart.

    By the way, Mr. Castillo, what is your background? And are you originally from Chicago?

  6. 1134 N. Pulaski Rd
    Chicago, IL 60651
    Born and raised. WEST SIIIDE!!!

    K-8th grade attended Brian Piccolo. (In fourth grade the school was “split” into elementary[pre-k to 5th] and middle[6-8].) Introduced to comics and repeatedly drew Spiderman and Wolverine from an early age. Graduated valedictorian and was set to attend Lane Tech High School. Participated in two years of free classes at Marwen Foundation.

    Family decided to move to Texas and we settled in Austin. Attended Travis High School in south Austin. Took 3 years of French, 5 semesters of Art, and 6 semesters of PE. Graduated 5th in a class of 150(?).

    Took a year off of school to intern at a B2B multimedia publishing company. Attended University of Texas at Austin. BFA, Studio Art for 6 years! Graduated with lots of debt. I’m down to just student loan debt now.

    That’s me in a nutshell. No this is me in a nutshell: Help! I’m in a nutshell!

    I agree, if you’re an artist you should create from your heart & mind. But, (pay attention Austin!) if you want to compete and be GOOD or GREAT, then you have to back that intent with knowledge of what has come before you and awareness of what is going on around you. Produce, research, and then a little bit of promotion, but keep producing!

    Thanks for keeping tabs on me.

  7. I know this is way overdue response but I am just getting back to reading the comments. I am happy that you enlightened me about how you arrived at your read on my pieces. In fact, Omi got it dead wrong and I’m not sure why since we talked about the pieces before she wrote the cataloge entry. I spoke with her about it when I saw the final piece because I wasn’t sure how she got it so wrong! Anyway, it just goes to show that no matter how hard you may try to communicate a particular message in your work, it’s ultimately up to the viewer to see whatever they can in it. I do agree, however, that if you could have read the top line, you would have at least considered the possibility of a different interpretation. Regardless, I appreciate your taking the time to ponder the pieces.

  8. Vicki: You are so right (late or not) . That thread continues throughout the submissions to this site. The bottom line is people see what they know no matter what the artists’ intentions might be.

    Hope you all will take a look at my website to see other works I have done.

    Happy New Year!

    Thanks for taking art and artists to your hearts.

    Oh, by the way Deborah Roberts will be showing in Chicago in Feb. at Chicago State University. I became the curator in 2006.

  9. Now its my turn for a late response.
    Ms. Meek and Ms. Owens, its discussions like these that I am aiming to instigate. Yes, people do come to art with their own prejudices and perspectives. Sometimes an artist can persuade them into their world, sometimes not. A good deal of sincere listening has to take place for the connection to be made.

    Congratulations on both of your achievements!

  10. Just came across your blog. Here is another VERY late update.

    “These teachers can do as artists”
    Article from:
    Chicago Sun-Times
    Article date:
    September 21, 2007
    Kevin Nance
    More results for:
    Joyce Owens “Creative Alliance” Kevin Nance | Copyright informationCopyright 2007 Chicago Sun-Times. (Hide copyright information)

    -Through Nov. 3
    -Nicole Gallery, 230 W. Huron
    -(312) 787-7716
    – – –
    Those who can’t do, teach, the old saw goes, and often it’s all too true. In the Nicole Gallery’s impressive if somewhat overstuffed new show of works by a quartet of African-American artists who are also members of Chicago academic communities, the conventional wisdom gets torn to shreds.

    “A Creative Alliance: Artists Who Teach,” featuring Joyce Owens, Preston Jackson, Thomas Lucas and Barlow, shows just how well these artists practice what they preach.

    The dominant figures here are Owens and Jackson, long established at Chicago State University …

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