NIC Kay, Grace Kubilius, Ato Ribiero, WORK/PLAY
Feeling Homesick At Home
April 7 - 28, 2017
ACRE Projects is pleased to announce Feeling Homesick At Home, an exhibition of new work by artists NIC Kay, Grace Kubilius, Ato Ribiero and WORK/PLAY
Feeling Homesick at Home: How does one cope when the very essence or foundations of home are questioned? Re-making an American flag in silkscreened black cloth; employing kente cloth and African-American quilting patterning; performing a cultural wake to Get Well Soon; or exploring female identity using the body and textile, the four artists in Feeling Homesick at Home articulate diverse identities within the complicated American experience. NIC Kay, Grace Kubilius, Ato Ribeiro, and WORK/PLAY use design, textile, sculpture, and performance to effectuate a more representative visual culture and national ritual, reverberating a disconnect between America’s contested reality and its ideals of equality and liberty.
In WORK/PLAY’s Our Allegiance, rich blue-black and purple-black kente cloth patterning replace the American flag’s red and white stripes. The St. Louis based collaborative reclaims and takes possession of our foundational national symbol through lovingly silk screening and sewing together strips of cloth, a meditation on freedom. In the artists’ words, “For many, [the flag] means freedom, but to blacks and many other people of color, it's a symbol of oppression.” Ghanaian-American artist Ato Ribeiro’s conceptual practice likewise incorporates kente cloth, as well as African-American quilt patterns, thereby bridging his West African heritage and African-American identity in Western culture. Ribeiro’s abstract wood panels are precisely pieced together from different shades of natural and repurposed wood and replicate embedded patterns and messages from African and African-American textiles. For instance, the Adinkra (visual symbols created by the Ashanti people of Ghana) symbol of Sankofa means “return and retrieve it”, which visually communicates the importance of the past.
Grace Kubilius’ grotesquely beautiful textile sculptures and wearable objects use the body as an absent armature to explore and rationalize female identity. Elevating the rough surfaces of stitched, folded, and rolled fabric materials, Kubilius’ textile piece in Feeling Homesick at Home serves as a stand-in for the body: limp, wrinkled, controlled and uncontrollable. In an accompanying video, we see the artist’s body undergoing touching, pinching, caressing, and slapping, from anonymous hands. NIC Kay’s strong, poetic movement and performance work engages the public with their contemporary African-American experience. The ongoing project Get Well Soon is a meditation on the cultural trope as it applies to the current social-political landscape. For ACRE, NIC Kay takes an excerpt, titled Shawaam / Dip / Death Drop, and extends the performance practice into an exhibition context. After Nic Kay’s performance of a slow, dramatic drop, a stage set will remain as a shell for the artist’s body. Together, the artists in Feeling Homesick at Home create dialogue around the complications and alienation of African-American and female identity in the contemporary American landscape, echoing a nationwide nostalgia for an America that has yet to be realized.