art practice

"Library of Black Lies" at the Henry

Thank goodness most art venues give you a few months to see the work of major artists: I’d miss pretty much everything if they were two-day pop-ups. Fortunately, my schedule opened up the other day, so I seized the chance to see Edgar Arceneaux’s installation at the Henry Art Gallery.

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The danger of a single narrative — especially about black people — is one of his primary themes. Part of the wall text reads:

Arceneaux’s architectural installation Library of Black Lies furthers this conceit, positing that there is no singular truth to history and that even well-intentioned narratives can lock things down to one agenda or cause. Arceneaux argues that the true nature of people and events, which is insistently messy, chaotic, and rhizomatic, is often whitewashed and sterilized.

Talk about “messy”: the installation includes several of Bill Cosby’s books, partially encrusted with sugar crystals. It’s lovely and disturbing, because the crystallization gradually eats away at the book. What a profound way to illustrate how Cosby’s (pre-rape-conviction) narratives and fatherly image morph into something else.

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As an artist who also explores different ways of being black, I’m inspired by this traveling installation — and also really glad I didn’t see it before my museum exhibit. I can imagine going down a rabbit hole of comparing my work-in-progress to his… and nobody wants to see that end result. If you’d like to see the “Library of Black Lies,” seize the day: the installation closes the first weekend of June.


Artwork purchase: and the new owner is...

I can give my crossed fingers a rest now: “Relatively Progressive” now belongs to the city of Shoreline!

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The city will add my collage to its permanent art collection! In addition to my work centering the civil rights leader Edwin Pratt, Shoreline acquired two other pieces from the “Living the Dream” exhibit: Kemba Opio’s “Sunday Living”…

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… and “A Brighter Tomorrow” by Vincent Keele.

Vincent Keele with Sarah Haycox, who helped name a Shoreline early education center after Edwin Pratt

Vincent Keele with Sarah Haycox, who helped name a Shoreline early education center after Edwin Pratt

I’m so thrilled to have created a collage that speaks to the African American presence in Shoreline, as well as the city’s present-day reckoning with its past. Public art coordinator and curator David Francis and I have had some illuminating conversations in that regard. And I’m grateful to the Black Heritage Society of Washington, which holds the original image of Edwin Pratt I used in “Relatively Progressive.”

Liberty Bank Building: be the first in the door

Remember field trip days when you were a kid? That break from the norm to go on an adventure?

Curator Esther Ervin (wearing hat) leads Redmond,WA students on a Liberty Bank Bldg art tour. Credit: Jackie Peterson

Curator Esther Ervin (wearing hat) leads Redmond,WA students on a Liberty Bank Bldg art tour. Credit: Jackie Peterson

You can recapture that feeling at the grand opening of the Liberty Bank Building apartments — it’s only 22 days away! Details:

The event is free, kid-friendly, and open to the public, so I’m planning on arriving early. I may have said this before, but it bears repeating: unless a resident invites you to visit at a later date, this is your last and only chance to see the art in person. Mark your calendars!