Intersections: Where Art & Activism Meet featured the work of two contemporary artists at the center of art and social critique.
April Bey's Atlantica depicts a world, beyond this earth, where Blackness, queerness and joy are respected and celebrated. Atlantica seeks to center Black opulence and pleasure when on Earth both concepts are withheld and judged perpetually through the lens of white supremacy. The Los Angeles Times describes April's work as "surreal and hilarious", "an exuberant, sense-tingling journey through an imagined planet where Black people flourish and thrive."
Oakland-based artist, Sadie Barnette, features three photographs—some of the only remaining documentation and ephemera—from her father’s The New Eagle Creek Saloon, the first Black-owned gay bar in San Francisco. Her father, Rodney Barnette, is the subject of much of her work. He was an activist and a member of the Black Panther Party. In these still life photos, roses serve to memorialize otherwise undocumented/unknown/unarchived ephemera, while sparkling rhinestones elevate these images from archive to legend.
This exhibit is in partnership with World Muse. World Muse believes Art is a powerful tool for social change. We are honored to partner with Scalehouse to explore the intersection of Art and Activism through the artwork of April Bey and Sadie Barnette.
About April Bey:
April Bey’s work delivers audacious critiques of the mainstreaming and monetization of radical politics. Moving between painting, printmaking, collage, and video, and alongside intimately-scaled artist’s books and immersive installations, Bey wittily skewers pop culture’s sacred cows. Icons and anti-heroes of US and Bahamian culture populate Bey’s bold and bright environs. Her incorporation of commercial objects and mass media underscore the means by which images come to define reality, through their incessant replication in a virtually-mediated world.
Bey’s ongoing series, ‘Colonial Swag’, comprises a fictitious sequence of advertisements from the artist’s imagined planet, Atlantica. Her artworks are constructed using a number of CMYK prints, and feature human subjects from Bey’s immediate peer group. Recently, they repeat a series of 25 photographic images, depicting a former DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or ‘Dreamer’) student from Bey’s educational cohort.
Constructed also as a self-help initiative for Latin-X immigrants, ‘Colonial Swag’ serves a dual function: on one axis, it represents a powerful aesthetic position, drawing together the shapes and textures of materials from colonized regions: fabric, resin, glitter, photographs, stitching, and paint. On the other, it takes a stance as ‘census activism’: a movement coinciding with – and reacting against – America’s former Trump administration.
In this and other bodies of work, Bey explores a range of topical themes in American life: societal acceptance and rejection, mainstream and minority encounter, and the still-segregated aspects of present-day US culture. As Bey thinks through spaces and places that highlight dilemmas of colonialism and neocolonialism, and as she examines certain overlapping spaces of colonized experience, she probes the diverse array of interstitial zones in which immigrant communities overlap.
April Bey obtained an BFA from Ball State University, Indiana, going on pursue graduate studies at the California State University (Northridge, California). In her MFA, she majored in drawing, and became fluent in a wide range of other artistic mediums, including ceramics, printmaking, painting, and installation art. Bey has held solo exhibitions at The California African American Museum (CAAM), Los Angeles; UPFOR Gallery, Portland; Fullerton College Art Gallery, CA; Band of Vices Gallery, Los Angeles; and Gavlak, Los Angeles. Her presence in group exhibitions has been widespread, and includes curatorial initiatives at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles; Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, VA, The Museum of Art and History, CA, New Orleans African American Museum, New Orleans, LA, the Kent State Museum, OH; The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, in Nassau, and Los Angeles’ California African American Museum. Significant public art commissions include For Freedoms, Los Angeles, Fringe Projects Miami, Glendale Library Arts and Culture, and Destination Crenshaw Outdoor Museum, in which Bey was selected as a finalist. In 2020 Bey was a Fullerton College Artist in Residency, and has undertaken residencies in Spain, West Africa, and the Bahamas, amongst other global regions. Her artworks reside in the collections of The Fullerton College Art Gallery, Escalette Permanent Collection of Art at Chapman University, Museum of Art and History (MOAH Lancaster), and at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking.