Wattis Institute

Black Light

16 Mar - 14 May 2017

Rodney McMillian, "red dust between," 2017. Courtesy of Rodney McMillian and Maccarone, New York/Los Angeles. Photo: Josh White.
Opening night at Brockman Gallery, 1967. Courtesy of the Brockman Gallery Archive.
Black Artists Retreat invitation, 2013. Courtesy of Rebuild Foundation. Photo: Andre D. Wagner.
Purple Garden Cinema at The Underground Museum. Courtesy of The Underground Museum. Photo: Christel Robleto.
An exhibition to HELP Brockman Gallery Stay Alive, June 18, 1969—July 6, 1969 at Brockman Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. Courtesy of the Brockman Gallery Archive.
Black Artists Retreat, 2015. Courtesy of Rebuild Foundation. Photo: Andre D. Wagner.
16 March – 14 May 2017

Curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2017

Black Light converts the gallery space into a forum for conversation and exchange, taking form as a series of events that address the relationship between cultural institutions and black artists. Presented in a purpose-built amphitheater, invited participants draw on their experiences as artists, art historians, and founders of institutions. Lectures, screenings and workshops are introduced and moderated by the graduating students of the CCA Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice. Key participants in these events include:

Karon Davis (The Underground Museum, Los Angeles), Dale Brockman Davis (Brockman Gallery, Los Angeles), Duane Deterville (art historian and author, Oakland), Jacqueline Francis (art historian, San Francisco), Robyn Hillman-Harrigan (Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter, New York), Marc Bamuthi Joseph (Chief of Program and Pedagogy at YBCA, San Francisco), and Rasheedah Phillips (Community Futures Lab, Philadelphia).

The project draws its title from a series of paintings created by the artist Faith Ringgold during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s (Black Light, 1967–71). Informed by Ringgold’s legacy as well as the current political climate, Black Light poses questions about how to re-conceptualize cultural representation, engagement, and critique: What spaces for agency are available to black artists today, and by what means have they produced spaces for themselves? What models does history offer artists working now? What role do institutions play? How do communities make themselves visible? Can artists dream the sociopolitical landscape differently, and what forms does this dreaming take?

The events are anchored by a single, large-scale abstract painting, red dust between (2017), by the Los Angeles-based artist Rodney McMillian. Painted on a discarded bed sheet, the work imagines contemporary society—and especially the conditions of black life in America today—as a disorienting and dark fairytale. At the same time, the painting offers glimmers of hope not only in its evocation of sleep, dreaming, and transcendence, but also in its suggestion of the redemptive possibilities of reclaiming and repurposing abandoned materials.

An accompanying publication gathers new interviews with Dale Brockman Davis, Karon Davis, Rasheedah Phillips, and a conversation between representatives of Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter. The publication also features commissioned artwork by Robyn Hillman-Harrigan of Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter in the form of annotated texts and images.

Visit the Black Light Facebook page for full details and up-to-date program information.

Black Light is curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2017 Megan Franz, Magdalena J. Härtelova, Barret Lybbert, Qianjin Montoya, and Amanda Nudelman.

This exhibition is dedicated to Leigh Markopoulos, who continues to guide us.

Tags: Rodney McMillian, Faith Ringgold