Kelly Ann Bobb, Sacred Bodies: Black Bodies and the Divine Fig 1, detail
Curated by Duane Cyrus
April 14 - June 25, 2023 // Gallery 1
Maroon, Maroon is an exhibition of contemporary portraiture in photography, film, and performance that will look at constructions of male identity and the ways Black men—particularly, but not exclusively in Contemporary Dance—make departures from norms and challenging narratives with their bodies. Challenging paradigmatic structures and making impact—even at the margins—protesting in the “Sovereignty of Quiet” [to borrow from the title of the book by Kevin Quashie, The Sovereignty of Quiet: Beyond Resistance in Black Culture]. Maroon, Maroon is an exhibition that investigates ideas of reflection and identity in ways reaching beyond the modes or narratives of society’s mainstream. It is also about quietly dismantling the monolith of and departing from identities. To chip away at the constructs that bind us and devise one’s own narrative.
This exhibition is inspired by the practice of Maroonage—to be marooned from something—as a form of survival. The title is referencing the Maroons in Jamaica who resisted the horrors of enslavement to live free and away from colonizers. The idea of thriving or being present at the margins—near, having impact on, but not part of some other nearby stream of humanity—to defy and remake norms. In keeping, many of the works literally defy the parameters of their frames or present the subject in defiance of expected position or appearance.
– Duane Cyrus, Curator
This exhibition is dedicated to Gerard Alexander.
Meet the Curator + Dance Performance // First Friday May 5 – Meet Curator Duane Cyrus and interact with Charlotte Ballet Dancer, Maurice Mouzon who will perform throughout the evening as a live installation amidst this exhibition in Gallery 1
Panel Discussion // June 22, 6pm, free, register here
Devin Newkirk, Reverie
l-r: Kelly Ann Bobb, Sacred Bodies: Black Bodies and the Divine Fig 1; Duane Cyrus, Brandon Lock
Kelly Ann Bobb
Kelly-Ann Bobb is an analogue freelance photographer based in the twin island state of Trinidad and Tobago. She has always had a natural inclination towards creativity. After completing medical school, she fell in love with the unending complexities of film photography. She utilizes photography as a tool of unmasking, telling stories that would not otherwise be told. Revealing as much of herself as the subjects she photographs.
As an Afro-Caribbean female photographer from the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the central themes of your upcoming exhibition intersect with the focal themes of my current photographic work titled “Sacred Bodies: Black bodies & the Divine”. My interest in photography first developed during one of the most difficult and transitionary periods in my life. In 2018, when I lost my mother to cancer, photography served as a catharsis for healing. Since then, it has evolved into one of my greatest forms of creative expression and activism, and has further fostered in me, a profound interest in Afro-diasporic identities, communities, and the world.
In the West, the Black body has been historically brutalized and marginalized – linked to a vile past of slavery and colonialism. Today, anti-Black racism and violence continue to violate the Black body. My work, therefore, seeks to reclaim divine bodily autonomy and agency for African diasporic peoples through the sacred perspective lens of Black bodies. Spirituality, sex and race are the foci of my photographic portraits where I explore and center concepts of femininity, masculinity, movement, belongingness and space.
Blake Arts is an independent dance and mentoring programme, providing high quality performing arts experiences, dance training, projects, performances, and interactions with professional artists. Conceived in 2009, the programme targets professional and pre-professional artists, offering Lester Horton modern dance technique, audition prep, bespoke masterclasses and workshops, and career development.
Kemari Bryant (he/him/his) is a film director and actor based in North Carolina. He has been making film projects for the past 5 years, and his most recent projects include co-writer and director for short films “Sad Clown,” “Libations,” “Brina,” and “Mothman: An Anti-Hate Superhero Comedy.” He also serves as a Head of Development for Adynaton Productions, an independent film production company he co-founded. He has recently been awarded the “Resisting Narratives of Erasure Filmmakers Lab” grant through Visionary Justice Storylab, a film collective based in Atlanta, GA, which supported him in creating the award-winning short film “INSPACE.”
Duane Cyrus is a founding member of the North Carolina based arts collective, Theatre of Movement, and director of the School of Dance at the University of Arizona. A graduate of the Juilliard School (BFA) and University of Illinois at Urbana (MFA), he is an award-winning artist, educator, curator, and producer committed to interdisciplinary art projects, collaboration, and career sustainability for artists. A Bessie Award nominee, Duane Cyrus is the co-author of Vital Grace: The Black Male Dancer a photographic essay co-authored with Joanne Savio. He is a curator and producer of performing and visual art on national and international platforms. Cyrus holds a Not-for-Profit Management Certificate from Duke University; is a Coleman Entrepreneurship Fellow; and Anne Fulton Carter Business Plan competition winner. Cyrus was a professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for seventeen years and former member of the UNCG Entrepreneurship Cross Disciplinary Advisory Board. He currently serves on the School of American Ballet’s Alumni Diversity Advisory Board. Visit www.theatreofmovement.org for more information.
Milik Kashad is a North Carolina-born, New York City-based multidisciplinary artist who uses his love of music to craft stories through photo, video, movement, and fashion. Untitled follows in that tradition drawing inspiration from prominent 80s vocalist Phyllis Hyman, who used fashion and her voice to create a musical and artistic identity that was uniquely her own.
Devin Newkirk is a photographer and graphic designer. He studied Advertising and Graphic Design and photography at Guilford Technical Community College. He has developed work for Theatre of Movement including the photographic essay of images for Hero Complexities and The Resistance Project. His most recent commission, “Maniya, Princess, and Amber”, was for Cone Health MedCenter for Women. Devin Newkirk photographs the beauty of the world as he sees it reflected in diverse human beings and in nature. He enjoys discovering and exploring natural and urban landscapes. Of equal importance, his photography reflects the abiding beauty of African-Americans and the African diaspora. One of his primary inspirations is Theatre of Movement, where he photographs human beings in one of their most graceful and beautiful expressions—dance. Hero Complexities honors the heroic acts of Charles W. David Jr., a Caribbean American United States Coast Guardsman who lost his life helping to save nearly 100 drowning servicemen in the icy waters off Greenland during World War II. Questions about rescue, self-sacrifice, and heroism, when black bodies are placed in contemporary spaces, are investigated. One question that arises out of the work is: What does it mean to be a problem and a savior at the same time?
After completing a degree at St John’s University in literature, I was accepted to study art at the Cooper Union in NY. This unexpected opportunity changed my life. I went onto a career in photography and teaching, and love both.
Throughout my life, I’ve stared at people without shame. It’s an enduring pleasure of mine. As a kid, I was scolded for what I later transformed into my life’s work. My portraits are as much about me as my subjects. They offer clues to my own fantasies, uneasiness, strength, and vulnerability. My work is an attempt to understand and embrace the world around me, and the only truth I can lay claim to is my own. My teaching and my relationship with my students keep me connected, challenged, alive, and authentic.
Obsessed with living creatures, walking in the woods, the people I adore, and thoughts of my own mortality, I live upstate NY, where I continue to work and enjoy the feeling of being at home.
Peter Stoelhorst lives in Amsterdam and is a physiotherapist. He has been registered as a physiotherapist since 2015 and specializes in the treatment of both pre- and post-operative foot and ankle complaints. After a dance education at the Amsterdam School of the Arts (AHK), Peter worked for sixteen years as a professional dancer/singer in various musicals and theater productions.Together with colleague Iva Lešić, Peter provides the physio consultation hours at the Amsterdam School of the Arts (AHK). He also works as an anatomy teacher at the Royal Conservatory of Dance in The Hague, among others. Peter gives workshops and lectures on ‘anatomy and injuries’ based on the book of the same name by Ted Willemsen.
Cameron Ugbodu (b. 2000) was born in Austria and in 2019 moved to the UK in pursuit of his next horizon. Cameron is a queer artist and member of the Black Photographers Network, a UK wide group of contemporary black practitioners of lens based fine art. His work has previously appeared in Vogue Italy, REVS mag, musè mag & Blaxe mag. Previous group shows and public engagement include Museum of London, University of Applied Arts Vienna, Cubitt Artists London Never at Home Vienna, Hammersmith BID London & Flat 70 London. New Mo(nu)ments was the first solo exhibition by Nigerian-Austrian artist Cameron Ugbodu following their migration to London from Vienna.
Thanks to UNITED ARTS COUNCIL OF RALEIGH AND WAKE COUNTY through the Community Spotlight Award Grant
above: detail of drawing by Devin Newkirk