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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Uptown art exhibit set to debut curations of Black culture

The Black Space Art Exhibition will open Feb. 16 at the Thomas Center

<p>Poets speak at the Historic Thomas Center for the Black History Month Celebration of Black Love, Art and Poetry Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. </p>

Poets speak at the Historic Thomas Center for the Black History Month Celebration of Black Love, Art and Poetry Friday, Feb. 3, 2023.

The Black Space Art Exhibition isn’t a typical art exhibit. Featuring a DJ and three music artists, the northeast Gainesville event illustrates the image of the local Black community. 

In partnership with the Moisturizer Gallery, a nonprofit art gallery in Gainesville, the Black Space Art Exhibition will open Feb. 16 at the Thomas Center and will feature printmaking, painting, oils and ceramics created by local and out-of-town Black artists. 

Lexus Giles, the curator of the Black Space Art Exhibition, said the exhibit is like a Black family reunion. 

“It is community,” she said. “It is engaging...It is solidarity, and it is a really, really good time.”

The exhibition will feature around 20 artists, including three musical artists. Among these performers is DJ Wax Atom, a Black DJ based in Gainesville. 

“I’m honored to be a part of [the exhibit],” Atom said. “The Black experience in America is different than any other, and in turn, Black art reflects that difference.”

In her search for Black talent to feature at the exhibit, Giles said she conducted an open call for artists to audition and also sent out invitations. ``

One of the invitations sent was to Antoine Williams, a multimedia artist and a UF assistant professor of drawing. The exhibition is featuring a series of his pen and ink drawings. 

Williams said these pieces are from his study, where he looked into archives of mid-20th century southern farm and migrant workers. 

“I’m sort of going into the archives and reimagining some of those moments that I’m seeing,” he said. 

One of his ink pieces is titled “Putting Breath in the Body.” He said it is inspired by Christina Sharpe’s book “In the Wake: On Blackness and Being,” which explores themes of racism and white supremacy. 

“Living in a world that is anti-Black,” he said, “Black folks caring and showing love for one another, or, as [Sharpe] states ‘putting breath in the body,’ can be a radical act of survival.”

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Giles first came up with the idea for the Black Space Art Exhibition about a year ago when talking with Des Bassil, the organizer of Moisturizer Gallery. 

“I felt like I was the only African American female artist within my [art] program,” Giles said. “I wanted to create a space where we’re together, merging us all together and celebrating the uniqueness and the power of being Black.” 

To Giles, the Black Space Art Exhibition is “a place where a Black person does not feel like they need permission to participate and feel a sense of belonging. It promotes, explores and celebrates Blackness.” 

She further described the year-in-the-making event as a project created in “opposition, refuge…and ultimately as a source of power” from historic oppressors of the Black community. 

Although she is an artist, Giles said she didn’t want any of her work to be featured in the exhibit. 

“I feel like this is my work,” she said. “Curating this show is my work. I wanted to showcase other artists within, but this whole big baby is mine.”

Because the exhibition is showcased by the City of Gainesville, Giles said she has her fingers crossed for a big turnout in “the most humble way.” 

Guests can enter the Black Space Art Exhibition from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., with no entrance fee required.

Contact Tanya Fedak at tfedak@alligator.org. Follow her on X @ttanyafedak.




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