SPECIAL EVENT: Saturday, May 18, 2019 6-9 pm

Rico Gatson and Baseera Khan

Free to Be

Special Event

Saturday, May 18, 6 – 9 pm

6:30 pm Artist Talk: Synesthesia: Sound, Color,

and Iconography


Rico Gatson and Baseera Khan

In Conversation with

Stephanie E. Goodalle, Writer and Curator

7-9 pm DJ set by Xtina Starr


Jenkins Johnson Projects is proud to present Synesthesia: Sound, Color, and Iconography in Free to Be.


Artists Rico Gatson and Baseera Khan’s distinct relationships to sound, especially music, work in tandem with color and iconography in the exhibition. These components join together and become inseparable from one another revealing the many layers of each artist’s practice. They are joined by curator and writer, Stephanie E. Goodalle, in a community conversation about these formal qualities and how they permeate the artworks in Free to Be.

For both Gatson and Khan, music is spiritual, meditative, the omnipresent studio companion, and a point of inspiration and inquiry. The tenor saxophone croons of Albert Alyers meet the corrective aspects of Central European music, which was appropriated by European musicians from the teachings of Sufi gurus and Haitian shamans. For Gatson and Khan, the music not only brings pleasure, but is also historical, personal, political, and spiritual. One can feel Alyers’ rhythmic pulsations in Gatson’s Panel Paintings and witness Khan’s questioning of historical memory in her video Brothers and Sisters.


Gatson’s newer works in his Icons series invokes the physical presence of black women activists Aretha Franklin, Afeni Shakur, Angela Davis, and Kathleen Cleaver which are in contrast to Khan’s Seats series. The seats, which take their shapes from spiritual headwraps, are voided of bodily form to note the silencing of women of color. The implied presence of the voice and the lack thereof are important ideas that shape how these works can be interpreted. 


The talk will be held in the upstairs area of the gallery followed by a reception in the backyard. We encourage guests to arrive early to see the exhibition before engaging in a lively conversation.



Rico Gatson is a New York-based visual artist. Over the past two decades, he has become celebrated for his confrontational and politically astute artworks, often based on significant moments in black history ranging from the Watts Riots, the presidential election of Barack Obama, and the formation of the Black Panthers. He recently completed a series of glass mosaic murals at the 167th B/D subway station in the Bronx titled Beacons. He has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally, including a mid-career survey at Exit Art in 2011 and a ten-year survey of his works on paper at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2017. He has had exhibitions at The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The Santa Monica Museum of Art, and Denver Art Museum. His work is in numerous public and private collections, including The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Cheekwood Museum, The Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, Kempner Museum of Art at Washington University in St. Louis and Yale University Art Gallery. He received his M.F.A from the Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT in 1991.


Baseera Khan is a New York-based performance and visual artist whose work treats decolonial histories, practices, and archives as geographies of the future. Recent solo exhibitions include iamuslima, first installed at Participant Inc, New York, which then toured to Moudy Gallery at Texas Christian University, and the Fine Arts Center of Colorado College from 2017-18. Recent group exhibitions include Simone Subal, New York, SculptureCenter, New York; Katonah Museum of Art, New York; MoCA Tucson, Arizona; The Kitchen, New York; Aspen Art Museum, Aspen; and Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York. Khan has performed at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Queens Museum, and ArtPop Montreal International Music Festival. She was awarded NYSCA/NYFA Interdisciplinary Artist Fellow and Art Matters Artist Grant of 2018. Khan's work is included in the Solomon R. Guggenheim permanent collections. Khan was a recent resident at Pioneer Works, and previously completed residencies and fellowships through Abrons Art Center, Apexart in Jerusalem and Ramallah, LMCC, and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She received an M.F.A. at Cornell University and B.F.A. from the University of North Texas.