New Exhibition ‘Fashioning the Black Body’ Opens At Projects+Gallery

 In Culture, Event

Some of the best art being made today explores what it means to occupy a black body in a world like ours. But what does it mean to clothe that body?

That’s the driving question behind projects+gallery’s newest exhibition, “Fashioning the Black Body,” a group show that explores how people of color use fashion not just as garments, but as semaphore, as shield and as statement of dissent. Curated by artist Dario Calmese, a North County native, the exhibition will bring together up-and-comers such as recent Yale grad Kenturah Davis, alongside established art world heavyweights such as Kehinde Wiley, who just closed a solo exhibition at the Saint Louis Art Museum focused on real black St. Louisans clothed in their own wardrobes. (If the name sounds familiar, Wiley also painted President Barack Obama’s official portrait in the National Portrait Gallery).

New Exhibit 'Fashioning the Black Body' Opens at projects+gallery

After Pontormo’s “Two Men With a Passage” from Cicero’s “On Friendship,” 2009, Kehinde Wiley.

Spanning media and mood—10-foot-tall acrylics that force the viewer’s focus to a sagged pair of jeans, quilted textiles that evoke ancestral craft, haunting installations that recall both Trayvon Martin’s historic hoodie and the astonishing grace of haute couture—the work in “Fashioning the Black Body” creates a space both for celebration of style and for contemplation of the systemic violence done to black bodies in America and beyond.

If that seems like a far cry from the shallower end of the fashion pool, it is. “Far from the reaches of frivolity—a domain to which fashion is usually relegated—Black people have continually engaged the fashion object beyond its utilitarian functions into a device of pride, protection, resistance and camouflage,” curator Calmese said on the projects+gallery site. It’s the kind of show that stays with you for days after you see it, clinging to your thoughts like silk to skin.

New Exhibit 'Fashioning the Black Body' Opens at projects+gallery

“NOTSOPRETTYINTHEFACE,BUTHEDOESITGOOD,” 2018, David Antonio Cruz.

“Fashioning the Black Body features the work of Bisa Butler, Soly Cissé, Renee Cox, David Antonio Cruz, Kenturah Davis, Hassan Hajjaj, Basil Kincaid, Mario Moore, Chris Ofili, Fahamu Pecou, Katherine Simóne Reynolds, Jacolby Satterwhite, Mickalene Thomas, Stan Squirewell and Kehinde Wiley, and will open with a public reception on Friday, March 15 from 5-8 p.m. at the gallery in the Central West End. The exhibition will be free and open to the public for the duration of its run, which concludes on May 4. For more information, visit projects+gallery’s website.

Images courtesy of projects+gallery.

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