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‘Adorned’ exhibit at McColl Center for Art + Innovation
Works of Shaneeqa Gay, Sharif Bey displayed
Published Monday, February 3, 2020 10:00 am
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

"Adorned" exhibits the works of Shaneequa Gay and 2007 McColl Center alumnus Sharif Bey.

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“Adorned” is heavy.  

The latest exhibit at the McColl Center for Art + Innovation juxtaposes what one carries on his or her back as it relates to what weighs down the soul. Visiting curator Jonell Logan curated the works of Shaneequa Gay and 2007 McColl Center alumnus artist Sharif Bey for the exhibit, which can be viewed on the first floor through May 2. Gay’s background work, combined with Bey’s large-scale ceramics, explore African historical cultural connotations as they pertain to contemporary life.

“I am always looking for other ways to speak about adornment,” Gay said. “Within African American culture, adornment is about everything—our scarves, our earnings, all of those things are important, but I was more interested in the adornment that you can’t see. The adornment that we kind of carry with us all the time that is much heavier of a burden than the things we wear.”

Gay expressed how her role in the exhibit stems from answering questions posed by Bey’s. The size of his work alone symbolizes the power of adornment, which is based on African jewelry traditions. Yet his necklaces are designed not meant to be worn, rather to be seen as sculptures.

“It’s really been me responding to Sharif’s work,” Gay said. “My body of work is mostly deifying women of color and collaborating them with hybrids and animals.”

Said Bey: “I’m 45 [years old], and I’m kind of an old soul because I have tons and tons of older brothers and sisters. Unlike a lot of people, I have a pretty vivid memory of the [19]70s. I have a lot of pieces that were influenced by Parliament Funkadelic.”

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Gay’s art invokes questions about women. Throughout the exhibit she calls to mind the imagery of women as “sacrificial lambs.”

“In ‘Adorned,’ I was looking for ways to talk about, not just women of color, but women overall,” she said. “How we carry the weight of sacrifice. How we carry the weight of our families, generational continuity. All of those things that kind of throw us to the ways of being sacrificial lambs.”

Gay focused on a red, black and white color scheme, with each color offering symbolism.

“In a lot of African tribes, red, black and white are colors used for rites of passages, for tribal understanding of different cultures,” Gay said. “Black representing the body and skin, white representing spirit form, and red representing adornment, sacrifice and offerings.”


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