Written by Eric J. Davis for THE ARTISTS FORUM MAGAZINE
Edited by Amos White V for THE ARTISTS FORUM, INC
Photos: Eric J. Davis
4 out of 5 stars
HARLEM ARTS FESTIVAL: ART AS RESISTANCE
NEW YORK, NY (June 6, 2015) Both art and soul were on display at the Harlem Arts Festival’s Art As Resistance exhibition on June 4th, and presented at La Maison d’Art Gallery. The intimate gallery space – owned by Stephanie Calla – is tucked away in one of the many charming and original brownstones which populate the West Harlem area. This exhibition of thought-provoking artworks is just a small but dynamic sampling that leads up to the larger annual festival taking place in Marcus Garvey Park the last weekend in June.
The six Harlem-affiliated artists featured in this show are Tiffany Latrice, Alice Mizrachi, J.T. Liss, Lance Johnson, Slone, and Lädy Millard.
A feeling of upscale urbanism can be found in the mixed-media collages of Lance Johnson. Blasts of muted color and graffiti-style lettering and imagery give his pieces a nostalgic vibe while taking a modern approach. There is also a Romare Bearden-esque inspiration to the storytelling within each work. An improvisation and randomness come together perfectly in his well-constructed pieces.
Bold and beautiful not only describes the paintings of Tiffany Latrice but also the artist herself. The female bodies she uses in her work are full of emotion, and project an intense power in their vulnerability. Her art makes a feminist statement that seeks to combat androcentric world views of women’s roles in society. The images, textures, and compositions combine to tell a precise story of marginalized voices and systematic oppression with a highly charged and provocative honesty.
Artist and poet J.T. Liss creates works that sometimes merge up to eighteen layers of photographs to evoke a realm of hidden imagery. Each piece reflects a metaphorical meaning – meanings which are directly related to society, inequality, religion, love, and the universe around and within us. He also tells stories and writes poetry to further explain each piece and give an even greater in-depth look at his truth.
“To graff or not to graff” has never been a question for Slone, who was graffing his first train at the age of eleven. His aesthetic mixes new-school styles and techniques with old-school graffiti art and the end result is amazing. A strong hip hop influence harmonizes with graphic, heavily outlined shapes. And the vivid and saturated colors give his classic 80’s characters a fresh start in the 21st century. What will the graffiti artist be painting next? A subway car, perhaps? No – been there, done that. It’s a Zipcar, no less!
Daring to defy the “mainstream” is what these artists are all about. They share alternative perspectives and experiences to normative culture. So, take a look at the exhibition and consider for yourself a world outside the dominant narrative.
Art As Resistance runs through July 15, 2015.