“SMALL” features – just as the name implies – small artworks by 19 artists with the intent to introduce a large number of Harlem artists to the Art In FLUX audience and provide a fun and accessible exhibit in the summer months. The initiative was to select an artistically diverse and talented group of artists from Harlem and invite them to present SMALL, fresh, and inventive work fitting for a small NYC apartment or a suitcase on its way back to another part of the globe.
SMALL Artist Profiles
For quite a while I have been obsessed with creating monochrome works. The black and white space enhances the contour of shapes allowing me to see vividly the simple yet critical elements of objects. Featuring the organic shapes that I encounter, such as water streams on a faded wall, layered leaves on a tree or my own tangled hair, I take the most basic configurations and work with their unformed elements to examine how they can interact each other. I think that single elements have little life in isolation but they start to breath with others. The positive and the negative spaces are explosive on my canvases as adding objects directly subtracts the blank space. Determining the balance is fascinating to me.
I remember the first time I discovered the beauty of black and white. It was when I first saw landscape drawings of my grandfather who was a successful industrial designer. When he was summoned to work in the war, he spent his spare time with drawing the places where he was stationed. The consistent 5 x 7 inch works contained fine details in the vivid contrast of black and white. Because he passed away before I was born, those drawings were my only interactions with him. Those impressions began an exciting journey for me and I’m excited to see where it takes me.
My desire to see the deeper meaning beneath the superficial extends to every thing I create. I seek to bring out and express my impression of each subject I paint, especially in my portrait work. The direction is clear to me as I create - as a seasoned and mature artist, I am able to visualize the end before I begin. Therefore, I am always trying to push something to bring it to its most effective point of clarity
My paintings leave an impression on the viewer; in the way I bring out the subject’s personality, yet still have my personal style show through the work.
This is done by the way I compose my subjects, and my use of color and lighting. Painting for me is essential - like breathing, I have to do it.
I draw inspiration from the history of portraiture as in: Faum paintings, northern European Renaissance, early studio photography, as well as various interpretations of the subject as disparate as eastern iconography, Russian constructivism, tribal traditions of Africa and Oceania and contemporary street art. Visual and historical re-contextualization plays a crucial role in most of my work that traverses and amalgamates disparate media and time periods.
Bayeté Ross Smith
“Portraits of Vacancy” takes portraits of people and communities devoid of those actual people. I am looking at what can be conveyed and interpreted on the basis of space, how it is organized, what objects and what symbols occupy that space. I am questioning what that says about humanity in general, as well as the people who inhabit or utilize these specific spaces.
Even before I lived in USA, I already knew about Harlem as that tremendous cultural place where art grows and influences the creativity of artists all around the world, especially African-Americans. That’s why I am very honored to be part of that great experience.
For this series “Artisans from Congo” I used old Liebig trading cards produced from 1872 to 1995. They are the products of another time, when there was less appreciation for the peoples of the continent than for the resources that could be extracted for the benefit of the colonial rulers. Often these cards functioned blatantly as propaganda, tools of racism or sexism, or as apologist statements. I appropriated and recontextualized these iconic images adding patterns and textures inspired by traditional designs from the Congo.
Ellen Hackl Fagan
My work walks the balance between randomness and intention, and, like jazz music, continues to reveal limitless possibilities for improvisation. Echoing life’s chaotic beauty, my work embraces my recent obsessions: pop music, complexity theory, Jungian psychology, Eastern philosophy, minimalism and decorative art.
You would not need a dictionary, a large vocabulary or a translator to understand my art because it is 100% social, in the sense that it has a social function which allows it to deal with all the social ethics of modern and traditional life.
Deguelouma: (listen to me) these pieces are about the influence of digital devices on people, for example: iPods, cellphones, digital games and how they have changed peoples’ habits and behaviors as far as face to face communication is concerned.
I particularly love the canon of 20th century abstract painting. My current work comes out of my own peculiar journey from realism to abstraction , with a sidelong glance at the work of de Kooning, Gorky, Miro, and Matta, along with more contemporary figures such as Dunham, Winters, and even Kusama in the mix of inspirations. Nevertheless I believe my paintings have an individuality borne of my own experience. I am fascinated by the way a single line can initiate the perception of space and form on a white ground, and from that point on, my hand takes over with purposes that sometimes surprise my conscious intentions.
Jay is an oil painter whose work examines the female figure through distorted line and gesture. She often paints from memory or imagination, disregarding rules for anatomy and composition in order to create an emotional portrait.
This painting series is inspired by music (especially opera). Since I don’t always understand the lyrics ( because of the language in which they sing), It is the emotion and the music of the opera that I use to get my inspiration.
In the past my series have dealt with nature and women and I keep elements of those in my new series. Recently, I received a grant that allowed me to explore on set design, which is another form of expression I would love to explore even deeper in the future.
I am interested in inspiring a sense of awareness behind the tenuous relationship between humans, nature, time and the built environment. With each new project I explore the formal use of light, color, pattern, space and time by interweaving manmade and natural living materials to emphasize the concept of Entropy: the inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society. A large part of my portfolio focuses on the creation of installations that explore the compartmentalized preservation of Nature with living plants sprouting out of fabric, paper or glass-enclosed mini ecosystems that alter and transform as they go through a series of life cycles.
Noreen Dean Dresser
I make painting and sculpture that reflect direct interactions with my environment and the people around me. Me, the subject, and the tangible product/reaction create the trilogy: a dialogue is born between us. ’Double Helix’ represents the perfect and infinitely repeating shape that defines the forms. ’Boca Rain’ is a plein air sketch from Buenos Aires; nothing moves me like a rainy gray sky!
I know that what I'm asking is impossible. But in our time, as in every time, the impossible is least that one can demand—and one is, after all, emboldened by the spectacle of human history in general, and American Negro history in particular, for it testifies to nothing less than the perpetual achievement of the impossible.
– From The Fire Next Time- James Baldwin 1963
And yet again, we need a miracle. These small intimate works attempt to tread the delicate line between our causality and the larger atmosphere we breathe in and lift our eyes to. It is this atmosphere, gently hovering ever so close to us that is twirling storms of rage, fuled by fires from a scourged earth, and legends of water pulled from the ice.Artworks derive their power not solely from information -there are better sources for facts; nor does art define emotions, feelings live in the viewer. Art moves in between the known seeking the unknown, uniting opposites, pushing both fact and fiction to someplace new and yet familiar.
I use movement as a way of exploring not only physical but emotional change, I make repetitive cutout shapes inside boxes or envelops of translucent paper. I assemble the shapes randomly and without adhesive or other attachment. They shift over time or when the piece is moved. The translucency allows the viewer to observe the relationship between the cutouts and with the environment, such that light, shadow, time, weather, season, and forms merge and interact. As a result of this dynamic relationship, the work extends beyond my personal process by continuing to make subtle shifts, sustaining a life and composition entirely its own.
Through the use of vibrant colors juxtaposed against mixed media and sober, sometimes macabre, renditions, I tap into my creative energy to call forth a new spatial awareness - awareness that is meant to fill the tabula rasa of contemporary time.
Moving incessantly from 3 countries in Asia to the US, I press and paint records to keep track of journeys and the history of each place. I appreciated Shintoism from my time in Japan, which centers on the Kami or sacred power of place. Currently I stain clay surfaces that show a tree’s life. I am living between New York City and Rochester, marking my path with tree impressions. I began making smaller clay drawings but wanted to see the forest. This is the beginning of my quest to being the forest indoors. The colors come from different clay bodies, with etched lines that tell the story of each tree.
Ruben Natal-San Miguel, (born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico) is an architect, photographer, curator, writer, art collector and consultant who specialize primarily in the art of fine emerging photography. In addition, Ruben is involved with non-profit art organizations such as ACRIA, Printed Matter, Aperture Foundation, AIDS Chicago, Humble Arts Foundation, Photolucida, Visual AIDS, ASMP, En Foco and The Center for Photography at Woodstock NY.
My artistic process is rooted in the African American tradition of repurposing worn or discarded items. In my work, I use feathers clothing thread, tape, fallen leaves, broken branches, and other found objects. These found items are renewed within my abstract pieces. The quilts my ancestors created inspires my technique. I witnessed how my grandmothers made something new from the worn and old with each piece of repurposed cloth. I learned that emotions that are too painful for words or figurative images could be expressed through colors, lines, and shapes. Through art I have found beauty in how lines and colors relate to each other. Each monotype is an abstract harmony designed to express beauty, love, or tension.