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San Diego Mesa College Art Gallery presents Impressions: African American artists and their connection to African Art, an exhibition featuring the works of Andrea Chung, Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle and Robert Pruitt as well as select pieces from the San Diego Mesa College African Art collection. Chung, Hinkle and Pruitt create work that represents the Black body and inscribes it with meaning through the use of historical images, references to African art and symbolism. Their work establishes a dialogue that both deconstructs and demystifies gender and race. The artifacts in the African Art collection, some dating as far back as the 16th century, enter into conversation with the works of these contemporary artists and in doing so, they reassert their cultural and artistic influence on African American art. Together, this visual ensemble from the past and the present both illuminates and offers insights into the African American experience.

 

Andrea Chung is a San Diego based visual artists whose artwork explores the history and narratives of post-colonial island nations such as Jamaica and Trinidad, where her family is originally from. Her mixed media work incorporates personal and historical images as a way to process the socio-economic and ecological impact of colonialism on the islands and its people. Chung addresses issues of gender and representation and in recent work is interested in the role of slave midwives as the illicit protectors of traditional medicine and the sacred rituals of motherhood.

Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle is a Los Angeles and Oakland based interdisciplinary visual artist, writer and performer whose work establishes a dialogue between the intricacies of history and power. Her work challenges perceptions of the Black female body and its relationship to the exotic. Impressions will feature works from two series of drawings. In The Uninvited Series she remixes colonial visual narratives of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, by painting and drawing onto ethnographic photographs of West African women taken by French colonialists. The works from the Tituba Black Witch of Salem Series, are inspired by Maryse Condé’s novel “I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem,” written in 1992. Condé powerfully renders the story of a woman of color who was a central figure during the early America witch trials. Hinkle’s series creates imagery that intersects gender, sexuality, mythology and the demonization of the Black female body, while also telling the experience of her own Black pregnant body.  

Robert Pruitt is a New York based visual artist who works in portraiture and sculpture, specifically of African American characters historically displaced in the future. His large mixed media drawings render images of Black people dressed in contemporary attire but also wearing futuristic contraptions, such as space helmets and jet packs. By creating Black characters that inhabit a world of science fiction, Pruitt challenges the patriarchal and Eurocentric norms of storytelling in literature, film, popular culture and art. Also included in this exhibition are Pruitt’s sculptures, inspired by African effigies but covered with aluminum, giving them an aura that is both futuristic and kitsch.

The San Diego Mesa College African Art Collection was established in the late 1970s as a valuable resource for the study of African Art for the entire community.  Since its inception, the collection has grown to nearly 1000 pieces from throughout the African continent.

 

During the artists’ lecture, Chung, Hinkle and Pruitt will present images and talk about their work, process and concepts. Q & A will follow after the presentations.

Thanks to Koplin Del Rio Gallery, Seattle, WA for providing Robert Pruitt’s works and to Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco and New York for lending Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle’s artwork.

NEW Gallery Hours: MTW 11 am -4 pm, TH 1 – 8 pm.  Closed Fridays, Weekends and School Holidays.