Zoe Antona Art Blog
Upon entering the top floor of the Contemporary Art Center and working ones way down each level, works from Robert Colescott, Saya Woolfalk, and Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum are displayed in perfect order. It is interesting that each artist not only worked in such a large scale piece to piece, but all the works were in one way or another about race. All of the concepts flowed nicely with one another because they were relative to the African American experience. The curation and execution of the flow of the gallery space was perfectly thought out so that the viewer was thoroughly captivated. The current exhibition up on display at the CAC is truly culturally transcending and immersive from the scale of the pieces to the layout of how the works were arranged.
The flow of the gallery space was utilized to its full capacity. As one walks out of the elevator on the top floor you are greeted by Robert Colescott’s life work and an excerpt about Art and Race Matters. The excerpt itself gives insight into Colescott as he created work in the 1970’s that changed the art scene by transforming well-known masterpieces of art history by blackfacing them. Not only is Colescott’s work meant to be blunt and crude but just the sheer size of the paintings that he created are capitative spanning nearly floor to ceiling and being just as wide. The order of which Colescott’s paintings are presented are seemingly chronological to when they were created, transitioning from Manet and oil paintings to the use of acrylic and more racial and erotic female experience subject matter. It is notable that Colescott uses bold colors and depicts not only the African American experience but also the female experience.
This leads the viewer down to other floors where works from Saya Woolfalk and Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum depict a female perspective of the African American experience.
After leaving Colescott and his heavily erotic paintings you are greeted by soothing sounds and a low lit dark room filled with Saya Woolfalk’s work living on the walls. Just as the last artist Woolfalk’s work depicts a female experience through her mixed heritage in a futuristic sense. Each wall nearly 20 feet high is filled with a projection of a colorful alter like scene with a female sitting at its base. Every projection has rotative movement with bold use of purple, green and orange in circular shapes accompanied by a physical piece such as a colorfully dressed manikin or a bull skull hanging from the wall to give more physical context to the entire piece. Not only did the projections on the wall captivate the viewer Woolfalk utilized the floor space by also projecting onto the floor. Though her work was visually capitative in terms of digital and physical material, conceptually she is not as strong as Colescott and Sunstrum’s work. A room over from Woolfalk as you leave her last piece you seamlessly run into Sunstrum’s work. As you pass the statement on the wall about the work unlike Colescott and Woolfalk, Sunstums pieces are independent from one another. Sunstrum uses different materials for each of her pieces some being on canvas others being done in a series on paper. She even created a mural installation. This perhaps added more to her concept and title All My Seven Faces. Each work is loaded with context into the African American experience and female experience which is also explained in a pamphlet provided upon entering the room. As the viewer approaches each piece the scale seems to exemplify the meaning behind the work. The mural being very captivating visually with movement where as the smaller paper series is more intimate in detail.
The sheer scale and content of all the works curated at the CAC is truly impressive. All of the works are large in scale which not only draws the viewer in but also conceptually blows the mind. All of the works flowed seamlessly by Colescott contributing not only a male perspective to the female and Afican American experience but also a look into culture back in the 1970’s. Whereas Woolfalk and Sunstrum contribute to the modern day female and African American experience all in one. If there was any flaw into the curation of this exhibition I beg to argue there is none.