Alicia Henry: Witnessing at Kamloops Art Gallery
October 1 to December 31, 2022
Curated by Daina Augaitis
TrépanierBaer is pleased to announce the opening of Alicia Henry: Witnessingat the Kamloops Art Gallery.
For the last two decades, Alicia Henry has been exploring unconventional approaches to portraiture, using the face to represent something that is hidden, revealed, and performed. Henry creates two-dimensional figures and group compositions that are commanding in their grace and expressiveness. Selecting her media carefully, she works with felt, canvas, and other textiles, as well as leather and paperboard, all of which absorb drawn and stitched gestures that register a spectrum of contexts and emotions. Notions of gender and family are significant in her works, as are physical layers that suggest multiple and unfixed identities. Tender renditions of a mother with a child appear, as do groupings of 20 or more females that signify formations of like-minded families within communities.
In Witnessing, Henry’s compelling compositions are drawn from a multitude of references: the artist’s own memories, her collection of West African masks, and events on the street or on television, to name but a few. Imbued with her perspective as an African American woman, the figures assert themselves as timeless witnesses reflecting a variety of personal and social histories.
Henry does not view her work as political but acknowledges that “at this time in the United States, the brown body has become politicized.” In her installations, composed primarily of dark-toned figures, a lingering melancholy evokes racial traumas suffered by innumerable groups and individuals, today and over the centuries. But simultaneously—through their direct gaze and erect composure—Henry’s multigenerational survivors exude a powerful strength and confidence. They stand in anticipation of an egalitarian future—a utopian goal that underpins much of Henry’s work.
If you are in Kamloops, British Columbia or its vicinity, do stop by the Kamloops Art Gallery. This exhibition is a must-see!
TrépanierBaer will be presenting new works by Alicia Henry at the upcoming Art Toronto 2022 fair, and her work will also be shown in an exhibition at the fair’s FOCUS section.
Alicia Henry: Witnessing is initiated, organized, and circulated by The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, in collaboration with the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge, Alberta; Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Kamloops Art Gallery.
Alicia Henry with Untitled (mother and child), 2017