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NATASSJA E. SWIFT
MEET THE ARTIST EVENT
➤ Saturday, February 13 | Time slots: 3 pm & 4 pm | RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
In a cultural moment marked by increased interest with the dangers, pleasures, and perils of living in a Black body, the artists here are concerned with representation of Black figures. Across an array of materials, their creative approaches to the figure are expansive and imaginative. Bodies are supernatural, fragmented, non-compliant. They variably confront or upset history, geography, gender, gravity, the idea of a coherent body, and the idea of linear time. Theorist M. Jacqui Alexander conceptualizes palimpsestic time as marked by “imperfect erasure” of pasts that remake distinctions like “here and now” and “then and there.” A palimpsest is “something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form,” and the artists in Making Marks vision the body in precisely this way. The bodies they work with are here and there and then and now, as time expands and contracts.
Sitters in Alanna Airitam’s photographs alternatively command or refuse the viewer’s gaze. Low light and metal encasing materialize the weight of history, as in “How To Make A Country” (2019) in which a basket of cotton rests on the floor beside a Black woman’s chair as she sits, sewing an American flag.
Helina Metaferia’s collages deconstruct and reassemble bodies and history through the material joy of cutting. While the work is playful, this is not a game. “Out of the Palm of My Hand” (2018) sees her disrupting a linear history of Western art, remaking it to suit new visual ends.
Nastassja Swift’s soft sculptures often mark the history of Black women and girls, as in “Passage, when momma lets my braids flow down my back” (2020) which features braids long enough to adorn (or perhaps become) the body.
Alisa Sikelianos-Carter engages space, light, and luminescence in ways that suggest bodies celestial, cosmic, or of some future time. “Home” (2020) may dream of Black bodies no longer Earthbound, propelled into an entirely different time/space via their hair—an adaptive technology that delivers Black bodies, protectively styled.
Together the artists work with, against, but somehow, right on time.
Brittany Webb, Ph.D.
Evelyn and Will Kaplan Curator of Twentieth-Century Art and the John Rhoden Collection
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Learn more about the exhibit and its artists here.