ARTIST CHELLE BARBOUR DEBUTS WITH SURREAL PHOTO COLLAGE SERIES RECONFIGURING & EMPOWERING THE BLACK FEMALE IMAGINARY
Band of Vices Art Gallery is thrilled to announce You Is Pretty!, the first solo exhibition of Chelle Barbour. scar-nominated actress Angela Bassett s pleased to serve as guest curator for Ms. Barbour's premiere solo exhibition. You Is Pretty! will feature nearly two dozen photographic collages of black women, sourced from magazines and books, and re-assembled as almost mythical beings that transcend the devalued representations historically broadcast in our culture and media. “Chelle Barbour has the rare artistic gift of being able to elevate a people, in this case the black woman, to heights of majesty and complexity that are so often overlooked in our everyday lives," says Bassett.
You Is Pretty! will be on view from September 15 to October 13, 2018 with an Opening Reception on September 15 from 6pm to 10pm. Barbour will hold an Artist Talk at the gallery on October 6, 2018 at 4pm.
“I have created a corpus of artwork that engenders questions about agency and beauty through layering visual metaphors across an iconography of black women that evoke Afro-surrealism,” says Barbour in her artist statement. “Though at times, the design elements may seem illogical and incongruent as they reimagine and celebrate hybrids of black female identity as mighty warriors, protagonists, sages, and interlocutors, the images portray females who are alluring, confident and regal, whose mystique envelops and raws you in while simultaneously disrupting the notion of black women as unattractive, threatening, and lacking economic value. These fictional beings are compelling, yet feminine and non-binary as well as vulnerable, and resistant to trauma.”
With recurring visual motifs of flower petals and leaves, butterflies, and household and industrial items, the images of black women are reclaimed and reconfigured as empowered archetypes of feminine strength and potential, work that is almost visceral for the artist. “During my creative process, I am endlessly questioning the representation and subjectivity of every image, element, and layer, which calls for an ongoing reinterpretation of inserted allegories while moving deeper into expanding the magical realism in the black female imaginary,” explains Barbour.
This is the first solo show of her career.
Band of Vice is located at 376 W. Adams Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016.
About Chelle Barbour
Chelle Barbour’s collage work explores the agency of the black female as muse, goddess, warrior, and woman. This collage portraiture series operates through the lens of Afro-Surrealism that envelops notions of desire, fantasy, femininity, fiction, fragility, myth, and resistance, strength and all that is complex and constructed in the black gendered imaginary. Chelle’s art practice also includes painting, digital video, photography, writing and curating. She has participated in group shows and collaborated on art projects with Black Lives Matter public art project at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (2016); Simone Leigh’s international Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter presentation at the Project Row Houses in Houston, TX (2017). Barbour’s work is in the permanent collection of the California African American Museum, the J Paul Getty Museum, and private collections.
While cultural production is a critical part of Barbour’s work, her curatorial practice began while conducting field research in Cuba, resulting in a published thesis, “Performance and Memory by Selected Cuban Artists: Ana Mendieta and Tania Bruguera.” A California native, Chelle began her foray into the arts as an actress. Her education includes the completion of undergraduate programs at Oxnard College and UCLA. Barbour returned to school to study photography and graphic design at Santa Monica College and Glendale College and earned a BFA in Digital Media Design & Fine Arts and a Master’s in Art History & Curatorial Practices from the USC Roski School of Fine Art & Design.
About Band of Vices
Band of Vices Art Gallery, one of the leading spaces in the emerging West Adams arts district, was founded in 2015 by professional actor and art curator Terrell Tilford. His first gallery, Tilford Art Group (1999-2010) was originally in Mid-City, Los Angeles. Tilford rebranded the gallery as Band of Vices to concentrate programming on emerging and mid-career artists whose work gives voice to the voiceless. Recognizing the importance of cultivating future leaders, curators, artists, and civic patrons, Band of Vices has partnered with the Los Angeles Promise Funds’ LA Promise Charter School of South Central Los Angeles to ensure that every young scholar and instructing leader has the opportunity to be exposed to the full diversity of the international art world.