Current Exhibitions

The Wall

Jul 25 2016 - Jul 31 2017

Indivisible: Vaughn Spann

Vaughn Spann, "Indivisible," 2016, acrylic, enamel paint on glass, approx. 8’x8’, courtesy of the artist and the Office of Admissions, Rutgers University-Newark

Vaughn Spann, “Indivisible,” 2016, acrylic, enamel paint on glass, approx. 8’x8’, courtesy of the artist and the Office of Admissions, Rutgers University-Newark

This mural is located in Engelhard Hall 1st Floor near the Office of Admissions at Rutgers University-Newark, 190 University Ave, Newark NJ 07102

Reception Thursday, October 20 5-7pm

Vaughn Spann writes, “The inspiration for my design is Iconography and Symbolism.  2016 has been a huge blessing for me. I married my college sweetheart, welcomed my first daughter into the world and was even accepted into Yale School of Art for my MFA. I wanted to find a way to give visual meaning to all of these events while paying homage to the school that help me establish a foundation for my future, Rutgers University.  Although this year has been full of wonderful events, it has been threatened by tumultuous ones. Donald Trump is running for president, police are abusing authority and my own Alma matter has faced issues of campus separatism. What we need always and now more than ever is love… Rutgers Newark sometimes gets a bad rap due to geographic factors. I chose the Rutgers Newark campus because I believed in everything it had to offer and didn’t let anything taint my opinion.  I often called Newark a ‘hidden gem’ because many people assume the goods are solely in New Brunswick but that couldn’t be any further from the truth!”

Vaughn Spann lives and works in Harlem, New York. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Rutgers University in 2014. The artist has participated in numerous exhibitions which include shows at The Reginald Lewis Museum, RushArts, Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI), Rupert Ravens Contemporary, The Newark Museum, Aferro Gallery, and the annual Newark Open Doors. Spann will be attending Yale School of Art in Fall 2016.

This mural was commissioned by the Rutgers University Office of Admissions and administered in collaboration with the Paul Robeson Galleries.

Apr 04 2016 - Apr 04 2017

The Ade Series: Ade Bunmi Gbadebo

This exhibition is located in the Department of African American and African Studies & History at Rutgers University-Newark, Conklin Hall 3rd floor, 175 University Ave, Newark NJ 07102

 

Opening reception Tuesday April 12 @ 6pm
324 Conklin Hall, 175 University Ave, Newark NJ
Free and open to everyone.

Ade Bunmi Gbadebo writes: “Historically, the dominant legacy of paint has not been inclusive of people who look like me, so I in return excluded paint from my practice. This decision to abandon paint forced me to adopt a material that was connected to my culture, history, and identity. This material was human Black hair. My material is my people. Not only is Black hair dripping with cultural and historical content, but also human hair is DNA, which makes it tangible information. I purposely do not solely address women’s issues within the Black hair community, such as the perm and weave epidemic, because the historical issues involving hair impact men as much as they do women. I aim for my work to be genderless, so that men too can see themselves in my work.

“Before the Atlantic slave trade, many African cultures believed that a person’s spirit resided in his or her hair because hair was the closest part of the body to God. ‘One of the first things slave traders did to their human cargo was shave their head…which to the African was tantamount to erasing one’s identity”’ (Tharps).

“Informed by this heritage, I enact very little manipulation into my material. Instead I organize the hair, letting the material speak for itself. I am more interested in manipulating and conducting small acts of vandalism to Western materials. In Black Gold, the hair does not share with the white canvas, instead it overwhelms it. In this piece I replace my paintbrush with a needle stabbing the canvas, and interjecting my own medium, establishing a new definition of  ‘a painting”’ In Dada I puncture ‘white walls’ and insert erect locks at heights that force the viewer to look up to Black hair, both physically and metaphorically. The hair invades not only the wall’s surface, but also the physical space.

“Ironically, my decision to let the hair speak for itself, has put my work in direct conversation with the very history I am trying to reject. I am in dialogue between my work and Abstract Expressionist, Minimalist, and color field painting, and I have embraced this reality. How the Abstract Expressionists used scale, the proportions of the rectangle, how they emphasized the viewer’s experience of the painting, are all devices I incorporate in my work.

“David Hammons is an artist I am influenced by, not only because he uses Black hair– but how he uses materials intrinsic to Black culture, and how he pushes the viewer to reconsider art with a big ‘A’. El Anatsui’s work has also been a major influence. That he takes a single item and proliferates it to produce majestic works is my analogous to taking a single strand of hair from one person and uniting that hair with thousands of other strands.

“I have to relinquish control in my process. I do not know from whom or what type of hair I will receive. I cannot force the hair to do what it will not. I have to listen and submit to the hair and allow it to speak and through this ongoing Ade Series I aim to have it speak to viewers through the canon of art.”

Ade Bunmi has been a featured artist in Glocally Newark’s website and has exhibited at Newark Open Doors, the Jacob Javits Center, and other venues in New York and New Jersey.  In addition to her artistic practice, she is involved in volunteer and activist work on subjects such as literacy, race, and inhumane conditions in prisons.

Curated by Adrienne Wheeler

Seed Galleries – A New Initiative

The purpose of the Seed Galleries is integration: of spaces, of voices, and of intellectual/aesthetic disciplines.  Each for the five year-long pop-up exhibitions will appear in a non-art space in order to enhance Rutgers’ academic environment by expanding on the ways in which knowledge can be acquired outside the classroom.  Seed Galleries will be established through the collaborative efforts of those within and without the University context, will highlight the relevance of visual literacy in understanding our intellectual landscape, and will provide platforms for voices that historically may have been excluded from the History of Art or recognized academic pursuit. 

This exhibition was made possible by funding from Chancellor Nancy Cantor’s Seed Grant Initiative.