Arts and Entertainment
|'It Takes A Village' brings creative energy to Mint Museum Randolph|
|BLKMRKTCLT collaboration on display|
|Published Friday, June 11, 2021|
|PHOTO | ASHLEY MAHONEY|
|It Takes a Village collaborators (from left) Will Jenkins, Carla Aaron-Lopez, Carey J. King and Dammit Wesley.|
Cultural institutions and local artists meet in “It Takes a Village: Charlotte Artist Collectives.”
The latest Mint Museum exhibition brings local creatives into the Mint Museum Randolph space for an extended stay, featuring over 25 artists from BLKMRKTCLT, Brand the Moth and Goodyear Arts. Their work will be on view in the Jones-Dwelle-Belk galleries and is curated by Mint Museum chief curator and curator of contemporary art Jen Sudul Edwards.
BLKMRKTCLT and Brand the Moth will also create installations on Level 5 of the Mint Museum Uptown. Goodyear Arts will produce a series of performances for the Mint Museum Randolph.
“Seeing the work in this space has been an amazing thing to me, and honestly, I don’t think it has actually hit me yet, because I’ve kind of been in here while they have been installing different things and trying to get stuff fixed and things like that,” BLKMRKCLT co-owner Will Jenkins, also known as Sir Will, Simplisticphobia said.
“Overall seeing it right now is kind of like a little amazing point, because, for me, all of the work I have had included, except for my painting, it was all brand new work that was done maybe a month ago. When Jen started the whole process of collecting work for this show, I was in the transition period. I didn’t feel like being creative. I was on like a year-hiatus worth of creating new work, because COVID me from doing my independent show last year. I was like, ‘I am done with everything for now.’ I was really able to kind of step it up [for this show].”
If you ask BLKMRKTCLT co-founder Carla Aaron-Lopez, also known as King Carla, collectives like theirs exist underground with little interest in traditional spaces unless people who run those spaces understand where artists are coming from.
“I have been watching these young men [Jenkins and co-owner Dammit Wesley] since I returned home in 2014,” Aaron-Lopez said. “That is a very long time before deciding to be an artist again. I quit art and came back to it, because Goodyear gave me one month to sit in a studio and really think about it, and I learned something in that time period. I hate listening to ratchet music in headphones. I come from Black people. The culture that you think is missing from Charlotte. It’s not missing. Charlotte has an identity, and it’s all the Black people that raised me during this space.”
BLKMRKT and Brand the Moth collaborated with the city of Charlotte and Charlotte is Creative last June 9 to transform South Tryon Street. Dammit Wesley called for action to be attached to the city’s gesture as agents of change. The mural was a sign of solidarity with Black residents, as the killing of George Floyd by white Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin sparked civil unrest and protest for social justice across the nation.
The Black Lives Matter mural was created by Dammit Wesley, Dakotah Aiyanna, Matthew Clayburn, Abel Jackson, Garrison Gist, Owl & Arko, Kyle Mosher, Franklin Kernes, Kiana Mui, Marcus Kiser, Jason Woodberry, Georgie Nakima, Zacchary McLean, Tyrice Adams, Frankie Zombie, CHD:WCK!, John Hairston and Dari Calamari.
“We are further along in our art careers, our art journey, and our story today,” Dammit Wesley said. “Hopefully we don’t have to have any more murders or Black death and brutality to create change that is necessary. We shouldn’t have to have those sacrifices anymore.”
Said Sudul Edwards: “That mural was marking something.”
Doors have opened over the last year. The Mint Museum Randolph, for instance, hosted Aaron-Lopez’s “LOCAL/STREET” in March. The Whitewater Middle School teacher and co-founder of BLKMRKTCLT used a $4,600 Arts & Science Council Vision Grant to curate the pop-up exhibit. “LOCAL/STREET” highlighted over 40 artists of color in a traditional space.
“Over the past year, there are some people and institutions in positions of power that have legitimately committed themselves to being allies, which is part of the reason why we are standing right here in the Mint Museum today,” Dammit Wesley said. “We are not even three months removed from the last exhibition that was hosted by our affiliate Carla Lopez, ‘LOCAL/STREET,’ but now we have a show dedicated to the work that local collectives have been doing for years. It is great to be beside our partners in crime, Brand the Moth, who has assisted us so greatly in making sure that mural was able to happen. Lots of doors opened and those who have the keys allowed us to drive.”
BLKMRKTCLT also collaborated with the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture earlier this year on an exhibit titled “Lift Every Voice,” which showed Charlotte’s response to police brutality and the protests that followed. It also highlighted Charlotte’s Black Lives Matter mural, whose site Charlotte City Council voted 10-1 to reopen to vehicles in November. The mural has all but faded.
“There is still a lot of work to be done,” Dammit Wesley said. “There are a lot of people in authority who have more resources that they could essentially share or give away. There is more agency and control that could be given to artists and creatives in the city, but this is definitely a start.”
Said Sudul Edwards: “[‘It Takes a Village’] is showing that we are committed to making sure that there is systemic change that is meaningful and long-lasting.”
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