May 26th 2022

Kavi Gupta presents an evening of conversation between artists Devan Shimoyama and Alisa Sikelianos-Carter, and writer, educator and curator Rikki Byrd. Centering the topics of transformation, self-reflection, and mysticism, the conversation coincides with the gallery’s ongoing concurrent solo exhibitions, Devan Shimoyama’s “A Counterfeit Gift Wrapped In Fire” and Alisa Sikelianos Carter’s Stars Are Born In Darkness.”

“Stars Are Born In Darkness” is the newest solo exhibition by New York-based mixed media artist Alisa Sikelianos-Carter, inaugural Foreland Fellow, 2020 NXTHVN Fellow, Sustainable Arts Foundation Grantee, and a 2022 Headlands Center for the Arts Artist in Residence. “Stars Are Born In Darkness” envisions a parallel universe in which white supremacy has been eradicated and Black features are honored as a manifestation of the mystical. Within this universe, ancient, supernatural guardians call upon Black people to activate the innate divine technology they possess in order to manifest their transmutation into consecrated, immortal beings whose Blackness is critical to their survival and essential to their celestial transcendency.

“A Counterfeit Gift Wrapped in Fire,” an exhibition of new works by Devan Shimoyama, follows the artist’s debut European solo museum exhibition, All the Rage, at Kunstpalais, Erlangen, Germany, and coincides with his ongoing monumental installation The Grove at the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building in Washington, DC. “A Counterfeit Gift Wrapped in Fire” examines cultural representations related to transformation. The result of a long period of self-reflection for Shimoyama, the work materially alludes to an internal dialog with which he has been wrangling, concerning the difference between superficial and true change.

Rikki Byrd is a writer, educator and curator, with research interests in Black studies, performance studies, fashion studies, and art history. Her research has been published in several academic journals, books, and exhibition catalogs. She has also written for Teen Vogue, Artsy, and Hyperallergic, among several other media outlets. She has interviewed formidable professionals in art and fashion including André Leon Talley, Bethann Hardison, Mickalene Thomas, and Amy Sherald. Rikki has lectured and participated in panel discussions with Google and The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) at Parsons School of Design, Barnes Foundation, and UCLA, among several other academic, arts, and cultural institutions. She is the co-founder and editor of the Fashion and Race Syllabus and Black Fashion Archive, and was a guest editor for the Spring 2017 International Journal of Fashion Studies, where she edited a special section on Black Fashion Studies. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in African American Studies at Northwestern University.

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