Color NC artists aim to break the boundaries with this non-traditional exhibit

More than two years ago, Charlotte artist Kyle Mocher spoke about art and commercial art at the Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art. He explained how traditional exhibits limited the viewer’s experience.

“There was a complete disconnect between the artists (and), and I wanted to make it more experienced,” Mosher said.

About a year ago, Mosher pursued a non-traditional exhibition concept with Sonya Pfeiffer, Elder Gallery owner and Charlotte’s civil rights lawyer. Pfeiffer supported the concept of Mosher, but the Minneapolis police killing of a pandemic and George Floyd sparked an idea.

Mosher asks, “How can I use this platform and this experience to actually push boundaries into what I touch, without being ashamed of what is happening in the world?” I asked myself.

He involved five color artists as part of the project: Carla Aaron-Lopez (aka kingcarla), Benjamin Moore (aka Fart.PDF), Kiana Mui, Dammit Wesley, Will Jenkins (aka Sir Will). ).

Wesley immediately imagined an exhibition called “Off the Plantation” in the gallery space. It’s about breaking boundaries and pushing the meaning of making black art in traditional white spaces, Mosher said.

The group of artists has been the curator and designer of the two-part exhibition. “Outside the plantation, Part 1” was sold out in October. “Outside the Plantation: Liberation” will be held on May 1st at the Elder Gallery.

& # X00201c; Offline_TREX & # x00201d; By a local artist known as fart.pdf & # x00201c; Outside the farm: Liberation & # x00201d; Exhibited at Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art.

“Offline_TREX” by a local artist known as fart.pdf is in the “Off the Plantation: The Emancipation” exhibition at the Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art.

Destructive space

The visual and performance-based exhibition features works by artists Aaron Lopez, Moore, Mosher, Mui, Wesley and Jenkins, who are known to challenge the world norms of art and violate the expectations of society.

“The overall idea behind this two-part exhibition is to transfer power and control to the artist,” Pfeiffer said.

Aaron Lopez claims that we still live in plantations. It may be a bank or office, but the dynamics haven’t changed.

“Your job isn’t that free,” she said. “You (black men and women) are paid less than their peers, but they work in the same department. You are still on the farm. If that is always the case, after June 16th. I’m going to celebrate like an outdoor slave. “

In “Outside the Farm, Part 1”, each artist played a traditional role in the farm. Depending on the artist’s creativity and interest, the character was contemporary or historical.

Wesley created a live performance piece that stood on a soap box with a rope around the neck made of chainlinks. Visitors can pay $ 1 per link to “buy his freedom” from the plantation.

The second part of the exhibition moves to liberation and destroys the plantations. Aaron Lopez says it is a showcase of blacks and black culture and does not follow mainstream art that the Western world deems worth exhibiting.

“I enjoy destroying space,” she said. “I enjoy challenging people’s ideas, and I enjoy creating artwork that forces you to think differently about what you said and what you were taught. I will. “

This work was part of & # x00201c; outside the farm, part 1 & # x00201d ;. At the Elder Gallery. Introducing Thai Exotic, a character developed by artist Will Jenkins.

This work was part of Elder Gallery’s “Outside Plantation, Part 1”. Introducing Thai Exotic, a character developed by artist Will Jenkins.

In “Away from the Farm: Liberation,” Moore explores the idea that blacks are the first robots.

“I juxtapose the workforce and programmed operations / efficiency with everyday relationships with technology across several media, such as large canvas, puzzles, and still life,” he said.

Platform for social justice

Aaron Lopez teaches art at Charlotte Mecklenburg School Whitewater Middle School. She is in her sixth year.She is also part BLKMRKTCLT, Camp North End working studio and space for young black creatives. Jenkins and Wesley own a group of artists.

Aaron Lopez from Charlotte said he hasn’t exhibited his art in the gallery for more than a decade, as most of the colorful people are reluctant to step into traditional facilities. She said the devised and controlled environment was overly privileged.

These are the artists and gallery owners behind & # x00201c; Off the Plantation & # x00201d ;. Exhibited at Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art. Standing (from left to right) are gallery owner Sonya Pfeiffer and artists Will Jenkins, Benjamin Moore, Dammit Wesley and Carla Aaron Lopez. Kneeling are artists Kyle Mocha and Kiana Mui.

These are the artists and gallery owners behind the “Off the Plantation” exhibition of the Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art. Standing (from left to right) are gallery owner Sonya Pfeiffer and artists Will Jenkins, Benjamin Moore, Dammit Wesley and Carla Aaron Lopez. Kneeling are artists Kyle Mocha and Kiana Mui.

“I don’t like galleries,” said Aaron Lopez. “I’m a fan of what’s on the street and what’s on the ground.”

She agreed to participate “outside the plantation”. It offered the opportunity to do things that Charlotte’s galleries and facilities have never seen.

“(I) took part of my culture as a black resident of Charlotte and put it in the center of the infamous whitewashed space,” said Aaron Lopez. “Sonya really wants to be one of the people who demonstrate and explain the diversity of Charlotte’s arts and culture.

The “outside plantation” plan was an opportunity to emphasize black culture in a traditional environment like the Elder Gallery.

“Sonya gives us the opportunity to black out the space,” said Aaron Lopez. Said. “When you enter the gallery, they are very whitewashed and mostly white. I don’t feel comfortable in those spaces. Colored people are what mainstream culture directs to that space. It is often decided whether or not to give in. “

“Outside the plantation: liberation”

what: An experience and performance-based exhibition featuring works by Carla Aaron Lopez, Benjamin Moore, Kyle Mocha, Kiana Mui, Dammit Wesley and Will Jenkins.

when: May 1st noon to 5pm

Where: Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art, 1520 S. Tryon Street, Charlotte

cost: freedom. Reservations are required due to COVID-19 regulations. Limited entry is required to maintain social distance and mask.


This story is part of an observer underwriting project by the Thrive Campaign for the Arts that supports art journalism in Charlotte.

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