Gallery One

Jasmine Best, Laura Little, Aaron McIntosh + Renzo Ortega

Dirty South
October 4 – November 30

First Fridays, 6 – 10pm 
October 4 + November 1

Artist Talk
November 16, 12pm

Download the exhibition brochure

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Aaron McIntosh, The Bear, detail 

What does contemporary Southern life look like, and what makes the Southern experience unique? The artists in Dirty South explore aspects of Southern identity that deeply inform their individual lives and artistic practices. Through sculpture, painting, video and textiles, this exhibition seeks to expand the stereotypes that so often define Southern culture to present a more encompassing picture of Southern experience.

Much of painter, Renzo Ortega’s work examines the concept of mestizaje, an historic term that continues to resonate for Latinos whose cross cultural experiences result in a hybrid identity. In Little Champion, Ortega presents a portrait of a Caucasian father and son from the eyes of the artist, who is himself the father of a young son of mixed heritage. The work is part of his “Southern Series” that investigates the artist’s experience as a South American living in a small Southern town.

In Tears for Dolly, sculptor, Laura Little presents a shrine to Gatlinburg, TN. The Appalachian town recently experienced devastating wild fires. Little’s assemblage of materials and contrasting palettes of saturated and muted colors create a jubilant and somber tribute to the kitschy mountain town. Little explains “I elevate ‘cheap’ synthetic materials to form sculptures reminiscent of religious totems. Using the detritus of contemporary consumption to evoke humor and absurdity, I pose questions about the nature of both the profane and the sacred.”

In his ongoing project, Invasive Queer Kudzu, artist Aaron McIntosh engages queer communities across the South to share their stories, which are recorded on fabric leaves and stitched together. The growing project creates a mass of queer experience that, like the plant has a visibly growing impact on the fabric of Southern culture. For McIntosh, his works “draw attention to the often murky intersection of personal desires and family institutions, as well as openly question our larger social constructions of deviancy, shame, adolescent imprinting and heteronormativity.”

Jasmine Best’s deep familial roots in eastern North Carolina are the focus of both works featured in Dirty South. Wilmington Doll recounts the experience she had as a young child receiving a blond haired, blue eyed baby doll that her grandmother had painted brown. In addition to the underlying racial narrative of the work, Best explores the strong kinship among black families living in the South.

Each of these artists use their mastery of material to weave stories that enrich and complicate notions of the South.

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l-r: Laura Little, Gawd’s Eye (Dolly’s Tears; Renzo Ortega, Little Champion

JASMINE BEST (b. Jacksonville, NC) has a BFA in New Media and Design from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She won first place at Mercer University’s spring film festival for her work A Change of Heart. Her multi-media work has been exhibited in multiple solo and group exhibitions including CAM, Raleigh. She currently lives and works in Greensboro, NC.

LAURA LITTLE (b. Lewisville, TX) has an MFA from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a BFA  from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Her work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions across the Southeast. In 2017, she was awarded the Kachergis Award Graduate Assistantship. She is currently a teaching Fellow at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and lives and works in Durham, NC.

AARON MCINTOSH (b. Kingsport, TN) has an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and a BFA from the Appalachian Center for Craft. His has had numerous solo and group exhibitions and his critical writing has been published in the Brooklyn Rail, Hyperallergic, the Surface Design Journal, and the Journal of Modern Craft. He currently lives and works in Montréal, where he is Associate Professor of Fibres/Material Practices at Concordia University.

RENZO ORTEGA (b. Lima, Perú) received a BFA in painting from the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes del Per˙, and holds an MFA in painting from Hunter College. His work has been exhibited in solo and group shows including Vox Populi in Philadelphia, the Power Plant Gallery at Duke, and at Queens Museum. He is a recipient of the NC Arts Council Artist Fellowship Award, the Orange County Arts Commission Artist Project Grant, and the Queens Council on the Arts New Work Award.

Sponsored by PNC

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 Jasmine Best, Wilmington Doll, detail