Where We Stand opens at the KIA September 14
Posted: August 1, 2019
Al Harris, Jr., Shadows in Elijah's Mind, 2014, pastels on paper. Courtesy of the artist. Center: Brent Harris, Empyrean Woman, 2013, bronze. Courtesy of the artist. Right: Audrey Mills, 4, 2017, mixed media. Courtesy of the artist.
KALAMAZOO, MI -- The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts will open an exhibition focused on regional artists on September 14, 2019. Where We Stand: Black Artists in Southwest Michigan will feature nine artists living and working in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.
Where We Stand spotlights emerging artists alongside veterans in their field, working in ceramics, sculpture, painting, photography, and printmaking. The artists explore subjects as diverse as the environment, mass incarceration, the criminal justice system, and concepts of beauty. It is being curated by Denise Liseicki, Director of the Kirk Newman Art School, and Fari Nzinga, Curatorial Fellow at the KIA and Kalamazoo College.
"Creating this exhibition reaffirmed for us the closeness of Kalamazoo's artistic community," says Nzinga. "There are reasons why these artists didn't go to Chicago, New York, or even Detroit. It's about the relationships they have here. We're proud that the KIA is one of those places that brings artists together and keeps those bonds going."
"Supporting artists is part of the museum's mission, and this show expands our understanding of their contribution to our cultural landscape," says Lisiecki.
"The KIA has never had an exhibition of local Black artists," adds executive Director Belinda Tate. "Of course, the artwork offers its own merit and personal expression without labels of race.
Where We Stand will run concurrently with the landmark exhibition Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem, and Resilience: Black Artists as Agents of Change, which spotlights the museum's collection.
The three exhibitions open Saturday, September 14, and will fill nearly the entire museum with work by artists of African descent. They will be celebrated with a free Community Day Opening from 11 am-5 pm. Family activities from 11 am-3 pm include three of the exhibiting artists exploring and creating art with visitors: Brent Harris, James Palmore and Al Harris. Photographer, actress, and poet Tanisha Pyron will perform an extended spoken word piece several times during the afternoon.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Michigan Humanities Council, the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, and the Kalamazoo Arts Collaborative.
*Free Community Day Opening Saturday, September 14, 11-5 pm, will celebrate the exhibition with family activities from 11 am-3 pm include three of the exhibiting artists exploring and creating art with visitors: Brent Harris, James Palmore and Al Harris. Photographer, actress, and poet Tanisha Pyron will perform an extended spoken word piece several times during the afternoon.
*In support of Where We Stand, the Kalamazoo Public Library will host an "Artists in Action" program at its branches throughout the Fall. Five of the exhibiting artists will be in residence at one of the KPL branches, making art, engaging with the public, and hosting an evening program.
*Thursday, November 14, the KIA will host a 5:30 reception and 6:30 screening of the premiere of a documentary about the artists in Where We Stand, produced by Maya Wanner. The artists and filmmaker will be on hand for a Q&A after the film. Reception organized by the Black Arts and Cultural Center.
ABOUT THE ARTISTSJames C. Palmore grew up in Kalamazoo, and served in Germany as a medic in the Vietnam War. He was the Youth Program Coordinator at the City of Kalamazoo Parks & Recreation Department for 25 years. He was a founding board member of the Black Civic Theater, and co-founded the Black Arts and Cultural Center. He has been awarded a Community Medal of Arts by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, and will receive another on August 24 as the Arts Council's Volunteer of the Year. Palmore's large-scale portrait Chief received the Peoples' Choice Award in the 2018 West Michigan Area Show.
James Watkins was born in Flint, and graduated from Mott Community College before earning a BFA in painting at Western Michigan University. Watkins co-founded the Kalamazoo Film Society and has run the Black Arts and Cultural Center's film series during the annual Black Arts Festival. His work has appeared in numerous exhibitions and juried contests throughout western Michigan. One of his paintings, Victims, is in the collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. You can learn more about Mr. Watkins in this interview produced by Public Media Network.
Painter and educator Al Harris, Jr., teaches drawing to 4th-6th graders at the Kirk Newman Art School when he isn't working on his own portrait paintings (one of which is in the collection at the KIA) of family, friends, and students. Influenced by artist Chuck Close, he works from the photographs of his sitters to make preliminary sketches before exploring further in his preferred medium of oil pastels.
Ceramist Maria Scott was born and raised in Chicago and has lived in Kalamazoo for 34 years. She began exploring ceramics in high school, and earned a BA in Fine Art from Siena Heights University in Adrian, MI. One of her salt-fired vessels is in the collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.
Sculptor Brent Harris received a BFA from Western Michigan University. He worked for seven years as an EMS paramedic before purchasing Alchemist Sculpture Foundry in Kalamazoo. He has shown his work in galleries throughout the Midwest, at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, and in collections in New York, Chicago, and London. He teachers sculpture at the Kirk Newman Art School at the KIA.
Audrey Mills is a 2019 graduate of Kirk Newman Art School post-baccalaureate residency program, and holds a BFA with an emphasis in print media from the Gwen Frostic School of Art at Western Michigan University. Her work has been featured in various group exhibitions, including most recently in Text(ure) at Artlink Gallery in Fort Wayne, Indiana; ArtPrize 10 in Grand Rapids, MI; and the do it exhibition at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.
Painter Chakila Hoskins won first prize in the 2019 West Michigan Area Show for her oil painting, Transformation (Metamorphosis). She earned her BFA and MFA in painting from Kendall College of Art & Design of Ferris State University. Hoskins works as a Continuing Studies Youth Instructor at KCAD, and as an elementary art teacher. Her work has exhibited at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids.
Photographer Tanisha Pyron is a graduate of Western Michigan University's theater program, and earned an MFA in acting at University of Illinois. She is also an actor, dancer, singer, filmmaker, playwright, poet, and educator active in the Kalamazoo arts scene.
Grand Rapids native Darien Burress is a 23-year-old biracial woman working towards a degree in art therapy at Western Michigan University's Gwen Frostic School of Art. She has exhibited at WMU's Richmond Center for the Arts, and the Kalamazoo Valley Museum.
James C. Palmore, A Sundered Beginning, 2009, acrylic on canvas, acrylic on wood, wire mesh, stone, leaves, paper. Courtesy of the artist. Maria Scott, Blackware Vessel, 2019, sawdust reduced stoneware. Courtesy of the artist.