CDAF is happening June 25-28. This is a moment to participate and both educate. If you would like to be a part of this ongoing initiative in digital arts and galleries take a look. Visitors are free.
LIBERTY ART AWARD 2020
CADAF is collaborating with Liberty Specialty Markets to support young artists working with digital and new media art. As a first step, a 3000 Euro Liberty Art Award will be given to a young digital artist participating in CADAF Online.
Please note that the award is limited to the digital artists who apply to CADAF main section. This excludes artists exhibiting within other partner sections. LEARN MORE
APPLICATIONS ARE OPEN UNTIL JUNE 15 (EXTENDED)
The virtual art fair will provide the opportunity for galleries and independent artists to showcase and sell works in virtual booths and communicate through chat rooms with collectors and visitors. A livestream of talks and panels will complement the experience.APPLY NOW
Judith Scott was an internationally recognized artist that came to her craft late in life. Scott began art making in her 40’s and did so without fail until the age of 61 when she died. What makes her work so unique is the undeniable emotive quality that is created with both positive space and various colors of yarn loosely lain in some areas and pulled tightly in others. In the survey of the artists’ work entitled Bound and Unbound, exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, we are provided an entry point into the methodology that she employed while making her work. The reasoning behind her artwork remains an enigma because of her disability and her inability to verbally express herself. However, when analyzing the biographical information given about the artist, we are better able to observe the historical context in which these works were referenced. As a result, one could argue that it was Scott’s formative years in an institution, the relationship with her twin sister, and the creative license she was given to explore her craft deeply informed the visual language she developed within the works we see today.
Scott was known around the Creative Growth Center to appropriate various items and use them in her artwork. When an artist is seeking materials to use in assemblage each artifact has meaning specific to their inner dialogue long before it is brought into a larger discussion. In this piece she has chosen long bright red and blue sticks, with a green beading at the top and a yellow bead at the bottom. Small intricate beads are woven together around the object in a pattern shaped like a child’s hairbrush. The pieces are small and delicate and require focus and a steady hand. The artists’ keen relationship with color is evident with her color theory application. It could be suggested that she spent lots of time throughout her years in silence observing the minutiae of her environment. This hairbrush like structure gives off a playful presentation that evokes childhood. Perhaps an early memory of her sister, or mother, and the intimacy shared within the simplicity of grooming.
 Hassaneldibi “Judith Scott at The Museum of Everything BBC Culture Show 2011.” 2012, 7:37. (Hassaneldibi 2012)
As Judith Scott became more comfortable in her art making, she expressed joy and liked to joke around and have fun. In the final artwork shown, she makes bold color choices. She effortlessly juxtaposes yellows, pinks, red, browns with a hint of blue peeking out from underneath a hood like structure. The colors give it a lighthearted feel and is representative of the hallmark of her work. Scott had a masterful eye for color that could possibly be attributed to her highly observant nature. It appears if there is an upside-down shape resembling a hat on top of the circular cylinder shape. The colors feel festive as if in a celebration. Following a trajectory of her work, she had seemed to reach a point of autonomy and joy within her visual language. The light colors draped around the cylinder with the more somber colors peeking through shows a play on light and is uplifting.
This survey of Judith Scott’s work in Bound and Unbound at the Brooklyn Museum is a testament to the remarks of feminist disability Scholar Rosmarie Garland-Thomas when she writes that,” human identity is multiple and unstable. That all analysis and evaluation have political implications.” In the context of Scott’s work there has been a lot of debate surrounding her disability. The ongoing debate is whether her disability should be mentioned when creating a visual analysis of her work. One could argue that Scott’s disability allowed her to develop a high level of sensitivity that informed her choices as an artist. Catherine Morris, curator of the exhibit states that the artists’ work is “not autobiographical.” She also writes that,” the sculptures she made were not metaphorical.”  I would concur similarly with Faye Hirsch’s review of the exhibit calling for viewers to make include her biography as a respect to her achievements. I would go further and state that with her limited connections to the outside world Judith Scott had early memories of her life before she was separated from her family She witnessed and possibly experienced suffering while institutionalized, which could symbolize the wrapping of objects and keeping them together or safe. The artwork that she created as she gained comfort and confidence appeared anthropomorphic and possibly symbolized feeling, albeit not intellectually reasoned, comfort she experienced reuniting with her sister and in creating art at the center. Based on those facts we can look at her work in a different way and provide new meaning.
I had the fortune of partaking in an intimate virtual lecture with Catherine Morris, curator, of the Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art locates the @brooklynmuseum. Lots of these wonderful artists featured in these exhibits you may learn about on my new site chiaratoyebi.com along with many nameless, faceless creators that add meaning and hold up a mirror to our societies. Their art pushes boundaries and moves forward the agendas for change we all are part of. These artists, especially women artists of color, domestically and globally need to be recognized and supported for the amazing work they do. Art is healing. In the words of artist and friend @imanasfari “art makes a home happy.” Nothing is more true than the latter statement. In times of crisis we must create. These books are about black women that demanded to be hurt. That struggled to bring their visions and voices to life and be heard when no one seemed to be listening. Curated by Rujeko Hockley and Catherine Morris together they created the amazing treasure trove of a sourcebook “ We wanted A Revolution. Black Radical Women 1965 to 1985.”
In Kara Walker’s Study for The End of Uncle Tom and the Grand Allegorical Tableau of Eva in Heaven (1995), she uses the relationships between master, slave, and the slave master’s wife to explore sexuality, race, and gender amidst the backdrop of America’s peculiar institution. In the untitled sketch, created in ink and charcoal, Walker presents what we can only presume to be the very beginnings of one of the many drawings that would later evolve into the silhouettes that made her famous. Walker’s work was heavily influenced by the racism she experienced as a child moving from California to Atlanta. Also, it was influenced by her reading of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
The sketch is an important reference to problems that plague race relations in America today. The fetishization of black female sexuality, the ordained purity of white womanhood, and white male dominance.
In the sketch, we see a woman praying. We can assume that she is a wife who is both beautiful and pious. She is doing what any wife in the antebellum south would do when they are suspicious of the whereabouts of their husband and sexual prowess of his mistress. Yet in this drawing, the object of affection is a child and the man old, white, and probably pious himself. There is a smile on the girls face that says that suggests her complicit nature and even enjoyment of the event about to take place. She feels that her role is just as important I not more than the wife’s. Nothing in the image suggests anything that is beloved even if it appears to be. That is what makes it unnerving.
In the Cult of True Womanhood 1860-1865 scholar, Barbara Weller writes,” a true woman was a true woman, wherever she was found. If anyone, male or female, dared to tamper with the complex of virtues which made up True Womanhood, he was damned immediately as an enemy of God, of civilization and of the Republic. It was a fearful obligation, a solemn responsibility, which the nineteenth-century American woman had-to uphold the pillars of the temple with her frail white hand.“
In today’s discourse this scene would look a lot like sex trafficking. However, this is a very real event that, at face value, tore apart established families. It harmed the psyche of an oppressed people and created many fatherless families.
Although Walker’s motivations stemmed from the racism that she experienced as a child. She was underwent protests for her work from black artists. One artist in particular, Betye Saars, was very vocal. In the International Review of American Art she called out Walker’s work as being opportunist with a goal of being famous. Saars stated, “The trend today is to be as nasty as you want to be. There is no personal integrity.”
The New York Times had a similar view calling Walker’s art “Shock Art.”
However, in the picture sketched above Walker seems to have a true connection to her ancestry and the ability to explore the psychological landscape of slavery and its repercussions.
The girl with her master has no idea what is love or not love. She more than likely has not known anything other than what she has experienced. She plays a role. The wife plays the role she is cast in. She is to be idyllic. What culture tells her to be she knows no different. They are both victims of the peculiar institution desirous of freedom.
In this picture, Walker leaves us wondering who is the woman crying for? We are privy to the vision of her prayer however, it is not clear if the tears are for herself, the girl, or the situation. There is an insight into Walker’s perception of suffering. This is a love triangle amidst the horrors of slavery.
Walker’s work is the very definition of identity politics. She repeatedly gives voice to the souls of black folk all laid bare on her canvas. If Kanye West thought that slavery was a “choice” he clearly has never experienced work by Kara Walker.
Walker’s work is messy, revealing, exaggerated and difficult to digest. It gives the work a surreal feeling because it is matter of fact. Yet, on any given day she shows us what happened. What happens and how turn a blind eye each day to our “normal.” If confession of sin is the gateway to freedom, we must be able to look closer at each character in the sketch to see their humanity and create an understanding I believe Kara Walker is aiming for.