Kickin’ The Can
@ Drama Club Gallery/ACRE Projects
2439 S Oakley Ave, Chicago, IL 60608
Opening Friday, May 6th, from 6PM - 9PM
On view through Saturday, May 28th
Kickin’ The Can explores the magic of play time, day dreams, and slow strolls — simply passing the time and doing so with pleasure. Positioned within the Black American dreamscape, this group exhibition contemplates the restorative nature of pastimes and play grounds that exist beyond pathways that mark the pursuit of capital, exploring the jubilance and romantics of Black leisure. The participating artists include Jada-Amina, Jermaine Jet Carter, Ayana Zaire Cotton, Kenyssa Evans, Janelle Ayana Miller, Shala Miller, Breanna Robinson, Sydney Elexis Vernon, and R. Treshawn Williamson.
In conversation, each work offers a dreamscape for making new friends and choosing your adventure. Video installations, cyanotypes, and screenprints frolick hand in hand, toying with ease and ecstatics, deploying playful poetics that illuminate the many dramas of Black being outside — and in the elsewhere.
else·where: embedded within the everyday delights of double dutch, the erotics of morning dew kissed grass between toes, the wonders of watching airplanes fly over from a swing set, the urgency of freeze tag or two best friends chasing down golden hour in search of a fabled streambank, hidden somewhere between this place and the next.
Jada-Amina (b.1995) is a South Side Chicago born and based, Black Indigenous American interdisciplinary artist and cultural worker. Their practice engages mythmaking and the archive by excavating legacies of the Black family and The Gospel. Their sound, video and collage work explore Black (re)membering through experimental modes of storytelling, deploying the speculative and surreal. Using cultural data from their personal archive and the public domain, Jada-Amina contemplates the potential of extended portraits as a portal in which subjects and spirits transpose the static of the photo, mediating something celestial and holy.
Jada-Amina is the child of sharecroppers and midwives from Little Rock and Marvel, Arkansas and Cade, Louisiana of St. Martin Parish.
Jermaine “Jet” Carter (b. 1998 Southeast Washington D.C.) is a multidisciplinary artist working in painting, sculpture, and animation. Central to Jet’s practice is the worldbuilding and rendering of “Jetco,” an imagined, alternate universe inhabited by caricatures, metaphors, and allegories. He uses nonlinear storytelling and narrative collage to map out his world, an amalgamation of the everyday absurdities and horrors within Black American life. Jet creates surreal drawings, toys, and animations to illustrate scenes that take place within Jetco, dramatizing the precarious nature of the social and political space Black Americans occupy. These scenes serve as portals for viewers to enter Jetco, and explore with the characters that live there. Jet holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Cooper Union.
Ayana Zaire Cotton is a queer, Black feminist, anti-disciplinary artist and cultural worker from Prince George’s County, Maryland, currently based in Dawn, Virginia. Braiding language, video, and code Ayana speculates and world builds alongside science and technology. Sankofa is a word and symbol of the Akan Twi and Fante languages of Ghana which translates to, “go back and get”. Centering a sankofa sensibility, they build databases as vessels holding seed data and experiment with shuffling algorithms to spin non-linear narratives. Ayana calls this methodology “Cykofa Narration”, generating new worlds using the digital and social detritus of our existing world — resulting in a storytelling form that embodies circular time and troubles human authorship.
Kenyssa Evans (b. 1997) is a Washington, D.C. born, Philadelphia based artist. Influenced by her father’s love for domestic and street photography, Evans combines photo, video, and psycho-geography to make visible environmental affect in relation to Black fugitivity. Using various forms of visual documentation and storytelling, Evans turns moments of mundane reality into an enigma. Often employing thermal imaging, Evans’ work removes key identifiers — obscuring the subject and space while illuminating the tensions between body and environment, public and private, projection and perception. Her incisive visual vernacular functions as a cipher, complicating the viewer’s relationship to observation, speculation, and surveillance.
Janelle Ayana Miller is a grandchild of the Great Migration, a Midwesterner with Southern inflection. Her practice is rooted within familial and communal aesthetics, looking deeply into bridging self and time as an act of place making while using modes of collage, found objects, film, food and photography.
Shala Miller, also known as Freddie June when she sings, was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio by two southerners named Al and Ruby. At around the age of 10 or 11, Miller discovered quietude, the kind you’re sort of pushed into, and then was fooled into thinking that this is where she should stay put. Since then, Miller has been trying to find her way out, and find her way into an understanding of herself and her history, using photography, video, writing and singing as an aid in this process. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in studio from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she studied photography, film, video and writing.
Breanna Robinson (b. 1995) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Chicago, IL. Working with a variety of processes including printmaking, collage, drawing, and coding, her projects tend to take shape through a mix of hand + digital renderings and image manipulation. Prevalent themes in her work include nostalgia (and time, broadly), femininity, media and technology in the context of Black American culture, history, and traditions. She earned a BFA with emphasis in printmedia from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2017, and has shown work in Chicago, New York, and Berlin, Germany.
Sydney Elexis Vernon (b. 1995 Prince George’s County, Maryland) lives and works in New York. She is a cross-disciplinary artist and burgeoning collector of contemporary art. Her work spans drawing, painting, printmaking, video, and performance, often taking inspiration from her family’s documented history, Black American culture, and philosophical inquiries of selfhood. Most recently she has shown at Case Gallery, Luce Gallery and Kapp Kapp. She is a 2022 fellow at Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop Studio Immersion Project and she holds a BFA from the Cooper Union.
R. Treshawn Williamson is a Chicago based essayist and multidisciplinary artist of Black American descent, from Prince George’s County, MD, by way of Livingston, Alabama, and Augusta, Georgia. Williamson’s work is a meditation on the obstruction and surveillance of the lived histories of African-Americans. He investigates the application of cultural re-imagination in the African Diaspora through the engagement of oral histories, post-colonial theory, folklore, and ethnomusicology. In 2020 Williamson earned his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Anisa Olufemi is a Washington, D.C. based curator, writer, and cultural worker driven by the hybridized cultural productions within the ancestral and contemporary African Diaspora, chiefly in The South and the Caribbean. They pull at the common threads between mother lands and chocolate cities in an effort to interrogate, amend, and reimagine Black life pre and post emancipation. Olufemi’s curatorial practice is underpinned by critical fabulation that ponders mother lands, and is deeply rooted in the possibilities of the Black Pastoral. They have mounted exhibitions in Washington D.C. and Chicago, and hold a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Schoo of the Art Institute of Chicago.
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