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Upfront Gallery & Lobby

Jamilah 1

Derrick Beasley, Jamilah 1


Derrick Beasley

Black Wholes: The Darkness This Time
October 9 – November 28
Upfront Gallery


Watch this exhibition tour with Director of Artistic Programs Annah Lee!


Black holes can be used as a metaphorical mechanism to better understand the human experience of Black folks and theories of social change more broadly. In this series, I use photography, woodwork and installation to explore this connection. Black holes have so much mass and density that they absorb everything in the reach of their gravitational pull, including light. At the event horizon, or edge where light disappears, time and space begin to operate differently. Objects that reach this boundary are drawn in and pulled apart through a process called bifurcation. When entering a black hole, change is inevitable.

This idea of entering the Darkness to pursue transformation is something I consistently meditate on in my creative practice. This pursuit has led to an exploration of other processes that mimic black holes in their use of darkness to transform.

The Darkness This Time layers attributes of black holes on myself, my friends, comrades, activists and organizers through portraiture, wood work, chalk and other media. I hope to expand the sense of what’s possible when we succumb to Darkness’ demand that we be changed. I find particular joy in using subjects who meditate on these same questions or some version of it in their own creative and organizing practices. The truth is that as Black folks we are often thrust into the darkness and forced to make sugar from booboo. The Darkness This Time is an invitation to reimagine Darkness as a necessary place that we can choose to pursue. When we make the choice to pursue Darkness, I believe that a self determining act gives us power to make choices in how we are transformed.


alex in space

Derrick Beasley, Alex in Space

Derrick Beasley (derrickbeasley.art) is a multidisciplinary artist based in Durham, NC. He engages audiences through installation, cultural space making, wood work, photography and design. His work explores the intersection of science, speculative fiction, human experience and our collective and individual capacity to change our reality.

Derrick’s artistic practice is a survival strategy and thriving strategy. He builds worlds and portals in order to chart paths away from the narratives of oppression and suffering often associated with southern Blackness instead, unleashing the radical possibilities that have been here.


Site-Specific Installation:
Tedd Anderson

Davie St Entrance

Tedd Anderson’s mural features the iconic “dry space” characters for which the artist is known set in a landscape filled with swirling, topographic lines, jagged edges, and meditative objects and shapes. A banner with a poem scrawled on its surface runs through the piece, bringing the imagery into a cohesive whole.