The start of the New Year is bringing two new exhibitions to the August Wilson African American Cultural Center. These galleries center around feminism, community, love, and making your place, bringing internationally renowned artists to Pittsburgh this January.
The exhibitions, “I came by Boat so Meet me at the Beach,” by Ayana M. Evans and Tsedaye Makonnen, and “Vanishing Black Bars & Lounges: photographs,” by L. Kasimu Harris, focus on the resistance and love inherent in communal spaces that go unseen or that are disappearing, or both.
I came by Boat so Meet me at the Beach, by Ayana M. Evans and Tsedaye Makonnen
Ayana M. Evans, a New York City-based artist, is the recipient of the 2019 Savage-Lewis artist-in-residency at Martha’s Vineyard. Tsedaye Makonnen, based in Washington D.C., is a conceptual sculptor and performance artist whose work has been shown at the Venice Biennale and the National Art Gallery. The two artists developed their multi-genre project, “I came by Boat so Meet me at the Beach,” from a feminist lens in black femme community.
The “Inkwell” beach in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, part of the Cape Cod Islands, is a historic African American summer resort community that was frequented in the late nineteenth century.
Makonnen said of the joint project, “The installation and images were created during residency on Inkwell jetties since it’s historically the demarcation of where The Black Beach starts and ends. We were thinking of borders but also black space.”
The fabric incorporated in the exhibition is also symbolic. Makonnen said, “We brought together objects and fabrics from our individual practices and travels. The fabric was brought from our Ghana collaboration in 2017, across the Atlantic, and sewn together on Martha’s Vineyard. We took the fabric back into the water and wrapped ourselves in it while moving toward each other, a symbolism of our friendship.”
Vanishing Black Bars & Lounges: photographs, by L. Kasimu Harris
L. Kasimu Harris, a New Orleans-based photographer, archivist, and educator, is also opening a solo show at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center.
Harris writes that his exhibition, “is about telling our own stories and giving the deserved importance to cultural institutions that too often have been overlooked and deemed simply as places to have drinks. While they are that, these spaces have historically been a respite from the rest of the world and the unfair treatment folks faced in areas outside of their neighborhoods: segregation.”
The photographer argues that while these areas still provide a place for rest, “it is these black spaces that have emanated the black pool of genius, be it the blues, jazz, social aid, or just black cool.”
The August Wilson African American Cultural Center
The August Wilson African American Cultural Center has brought together thousands of artists from all ages and backgrounds. Located downtown on Liberty Ave., the Center’s venue is very accessible as the galleries are free and open to the public. With multiple exhibition galleries, a theater, an education center, and space for community programs, the Cultural Center is one to watch for upcoming events.
Both exhibitions, curated by Kilolo Luckett, are on view from Jan. 24 through March 29, 2020.
Be one of the firsts to view these galleries during a free opening reception on Jan. 24 from 5-8 p.m. The reception includes live performances and guided tours.