December 10, 2016 – January 28, 2017
Opening reception: Saturday, December 10th, 6 – 8pm
Artist talk: Saturday, January 28th, 5pm - NEW DATE
Amy Sherald, the first woman to win the National Portrait Gallery’s prestigious Outwin Boochever Award (2016), an artist who is currently featured in the National Museum of African American Art and Culture, and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine, is the center of the upcoming Creative Alliance exhibition About Face, opening Saturday, December 10th. Since she became a resident artist at Creative Alliance in 2014, Sherald’s painting career has experienced a rapid rise the international art scene, earning important and well-deserved recognition for her life-sized portraits. Through her work, along with Rozeal, Tim Okamura, and Ebony G. Patterson, the exhibition About Face turns its attention to under-represented communities, historically marginalized by the genre of portraiture, combining her portraits with a selection of the nation’s best contemporary figurative artists.
Each artist in the exhibition tackles stereotypes of race in different ways: Amy Sherald paints the flesh of her subjects in grayscale to remove specific connotations of skin tone and race all the while costuming them in a manner that contradicts the roles and stereotypes historically associated with black culture; Rozeal addresses the historical use of black face and the crinkling of hair in Japanese culture to make subjects appear more African. Additionally her paintings update the classical look of Japanese woodcuts with modern settings; Tim Okamura juxtaposes the rawness and urgency of street art with realistic technique to create an accessible visual language through portraiture; Jamaican artist Ebony G. Patterson creates highly embellished, collaged, and appliquéd tapestries, as well as photographic prints with subject matter that allude to bodies, yet lacks specificity.
The surface treatments, or “face” of each artist’s work, demand a deeper recognition from the audience that black identity is hardly as simple as it has been portrayed throughout western European art history. Through each artist’s work we are given, and asked to give, a more complex look at the composition of black identity and how it is perceived in society today.
Amy Sherald attended Clark-Atlanta University where she earned a Bachelor’s of the Arts in painting in 1997. While attending Clark-Atlanta she became an apprentice to Dr. Arturo Lindsay who was her painting instructor at Spelman College. She was a participant of the Spelman College International Artist-in-Residence program in Portobelo, Panama in 1997. Sherald also assisted in the installing and curating of shows in the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo (Museum of Contemporary Art Panama) and the 1999 South American Biennale in Lima, Peru. This was the impetus for her to explore her own voice in the art world. In past years her work has been autobiographical but has changed in response to her move to Baltimore, where it has taken on a social context with a allegorical twist. Sherald attended the Maryland Institute College of Art where she earned her M.F.A. in painting in 2004. After graduating she secured a prestigious private study residency with well-known Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum whom she lived and studied with in Larvik, Norway. She also attained an artist residency assistantship at the Tong Xion Art Center in Beijing, China in 2008, and is currently a resident artist at Creative Alliance. Sherald was chosen as Jurors Pick of the New American Paintings Edition 88. Her work was mostly recently acquired by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the Smithsonian Museum of African American Art in Washington, D.C. In addition, she was also a recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painting and Sculpture Grant.
ROZEAL (Iona Rozeal Brown) is a native of Washington, D.C., and a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, Pratt Institute, and Yale University. In addition to her critically acclaimed commission for Performa 11 (the fourth edition of the international biennial of new visual art performance presented by Performa), the artist has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC, MoCA Detroit, MoCA Cleveland, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford. Rozeal has won numerous awards in support of her ambitious paintings and performances, including a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant, and a United States/Japan Creative Artists Fellowship. Her work is featured in both public and private collections internationally, including the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, NE, The Norton Family Collection, The Rubell Family Collection, and The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. She currently lives and works in Maryland.
Born in Edmonton, Canada, painter Tim Okamura earned a B.F.A. with Distinction at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, Canada before moving to New York City to attend the School of Visual Arts in 1991. After graduating with an M.F.A. in Illustration as Visual Journalism, Okamura moved to Brooklyn, New York, where he continues to live and work. Okamura – a recipient of the 2004 Fellowship in Painting from the New York Foundation for the Arts – has exhibited extensively in galleries throughout the world, including the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in the U.S., Canada, Italy, Japan, Ecuador and Turkey, and has been selected nine times to appear in the prestigious BP Portrait Award Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London, England. In 2006, Okamura was short-listed by the Royal Surveyor of the Queen’s Picture Collection for a commissioned portrait of the Queen of England. In 2015, Okamura received a letter of commendation from the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden. Okamura’s art is on display in the permanent collections of the Davis Museum at Wellesley College, The Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Toronto Congress Center, the Hotel Arts in Calgary, Canada, and Standard Chartered Bank in London, England. Celebrity collectors include Uma Thurman, musicians John Mellencamp, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (The Roots), director Ben Younger, as well as actors Bryan Greenberg, Vanessa Marcil, Annabella Sciorra, and Ethan Hawke.
Working with wide range of techniques and materials, including mixed-media painting, tapestries, installation and works on paper, Jamaican-born artist Ebony G. Patterson is not afraid to push the envelope. Patterson did her undergraduate work at the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica and earned her MFA in 2006 from the Sam Fox College of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2007 her work was featured in the group exhibition Infinite Island: Contemporary Caribbean Art curated by Tumelo Mosaka at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. She has earned her numerous awards, including the Prime Minister’s Youth Awards for Excellence in Art and Culture – the highest award a young individual can receive in the arts, on the island of Jamaica. Patterson’s work has been included in exhibitions at Kravets / Wehby and Praxis Gallery in New York, New Art Ways in Hartford, CT, the Santa Monica Art Museum, the French Alliance Foundation in Paris, the Foundation Clement in Martinique, and the National Gallery of Jamaica in Kingston, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, The Studio Museum of Harlem in New York, and Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago. Ebony is an Assistant Professor in the Painting Department at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.