84 Franklin Street
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Making It Work: Emerging African American Women Artists is a new exhibition at the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis, Maryland. Making It Work presents three Maryland and DC area artists who blend non-traditional and traditional artistic mediums to create contemporary works of art. Featuring emerging artists Tracy Butler, Sharron Patrice Johnson, and Ameshia Stukes, the exhibition is the project of talented, up-and-coming curator Asantewa Boakyewa.
Together the artists engage a variety of media by drawing upon source materials that were accessible to them and then introducing new approaches to using these media for art-making. Tracy Butler, a self-taught artist, moved from experimenting with pencil sketches to creating work in color paint to better convey the range of emotions she sought to express in visual form. Her current works expand into the mixed media genre. Ameshia Stukes’s sculptural installations pose questions about self-identity and beauty, incorporating a range of commercial objects. Sharron Patrice Johnson re-purposes old newspapers to shape large scale installations. Boakyewa comments that Johnson, “began working with newspaper while attempting to redecorate her own home, realizing that she could not afford store-bought wallpaper. She discovered that [the papers] could be manipulated and transformed to create individualized visual stories that speak to historical moments, family histories and personal experiences.” A recurrent theme is each artist taking clues from her environment as a means of inspiration.
The exhibition title, Making It Work, speaks to the practice of harnessing the creative potential in everyday materials to enhance your life, and for these three artists, to embolden their own artwork. Boakyewa notes that “the idea of using what you have to ‘make it work’ coincides with the African American historical narrative of resilience and self-reliance.” Certainly, black women have long been instigators of creative resistance, crafty re-purposers, mothers of invention, and improvisational magicians. Their creations range from multidimensional quilts shaped from fabric scraps to culinary inventiveness salvaged from food scraps (a la soul food). By focusing on emergent artists—both self-taught and formally trained—this exhibition presents a view of new directions in African American women’s aesthetic improvisations.
Visit the exhibition on Saturday, February 23, 1-3pm, for an opening reception with the artists and curator.
Michelle Joan Wilkinson, Ph.D. is a curator and global arts writer that keeps us hip to the Baltimore arts scene. Got a pick for Michelle? Email her here.