Janathel Shaw’s April solo show, SOLIDAREity! is a reflection upon the status of Blacks in America: a series of figurative pieces and portraits of men, women and children looking boldly into the present and the future. Inspiration for this new series derives from the lost souls, activists and community of people who are part and parcel of the American landscape—people who enrich that landscape in both hidden and overt ways. The portraits incorporate texture, rich deep lines and are anchored in contrast. Several are rooted in a defiant solidarity of consciousness, soulfulness, and personal voice. Some are dark in tone in recognition of ongoing struggles.
Shaw’s images are her “voice,” her “signs of the times.” She is spurred on by the words of American poet Niki Giovanni,
“If Black History Month is not
viable then wind does not
carry the seeds and drop them
on fertile ground
rain does not
dampen the land
and encourage the seeds
sun does not
warm the earth
and kiss the seedlings
and tell them plain:
You’re As Good As Anybody Else”
Yes, the poem was written specifically for Black History Month, but the affirmation still resonates in the lives of Black Americans, not only in February, but all year long. Likewise Shaw’s art speaks of those who endure prejudice, yet still find the strength and courage to inspire hope in others.
Shaw is in tune with the increasingly divisive 2016-17 political climate that is driven by a resurgence of fear and prejudice. Her graphite and acrylic drawings, as well as ceramic figures, are part of the corresponding response to this climate--part of a movement, a re-awakening of rebellion and solidarity at the grass roots and national levels. Her works speak of a diverse America that will not return to the dark racist period of the Jim Crow era. Her voice joins the chorus of young people who raise their voices and march in the streets calling for justice and equality.
Shaw’s portraits in courage, SOLIDAREity, art works are on exhibit April 5-30 at Touchstone Gallery; 901 New York Avenue NW Washington DC 20001, 202-347-2787 firstname.lastname@example.org. See smaller ceramic pieces at the TG Trunk Show on April 8th from 2-5pm.
Opening Reception: Friday April 7--
6 - 8:30pm; Encore Reception: April 29, 2017 from 1-3 pm. www.touchstonegallery.com Wed-Fri 11-6 Sat-Sun12-5