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MVP: A Selection of Sculptures by Melvin Van Peebles Blue Room and Combinations at Sugar Hill Childre’s Museum of Art and Story Telling, NYC

By on November 8, 2022 0
Melvin Van Peebles, those were the days my friend we thought would never end
Melvin Van Peebles, hot dog
Melvin Van Peebles, Untitled (Water Cooler)
Melvin Van Peebles, Untitled (Collage)
Melvin Van Peebles, Birdcage (Sculpture)

Co-organized by Damien Davis and Alaina Simone

The exhibition continues until August 19, 2023

The Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling announces its fall exhibition in the Legacy Gallery: MVP: A Selection of Sculptures From Melvin Van Peebles Blue Room, co-curated by Damien Davis and Alaina Simone. This exhibition runs until August 19, 2023.

To celebrate the life of Melvin Van Peebles, we will present a selection of art objects, artifacts and ephemera, contextualizing his legacy as a filmmaker, activist and visual artist. As an extraordinary individual who has maintained a childlike sense of openness and curiosity about the world around him, the exhibit will feature a recreation of Melvin’s living room (The Blue Room) with original objects from his home. The images from the show were photographed by artist Lyle Ashton Harris and featured in a December 3, 2021 New York Times article, which was a major inspiration for the vision for this exhibit.

Melvin Van Peebles was an artist, in every sense of the word. From portraiture to novel writing to filmmaking and more, his interdisciplinary relationship with the art of composition is unique in nature. He moved on, jumping from Chicago to Mexico City to Amsterdam and finally Paris, in order to pursue his dream of working in the film industry. Once rewarded in Paris and invited to Hollywood with open arms, rather than taking the space he had always wanted, he created space for other black artists, allowing a platform where there was none. had none. It was collaborative but disruptive, at a time when Hollywood was exclusive to everyone but people of color.

The Blue Room served as both a source of inspiration for Melvin and a fusion of his childhood state of curiosity and creativity. Similar to Matisse’s “The Red Studio,” his blue-walled apartment was filled with a myriad of strange, but somewhat functional objects. From the back of a Volkswagen that doubles as a filing cabinet to a giant sculpture of a hot dog, the artist’s youthful joy has saturated his life with fantasy and wonder. “He had this whimsical, cunning sense of humor, and a love of the everyday,” shares Mario Van Peebles, filmmaker, actor and son of the artist. “He would sit in the Blue Room and gaze out the windows at the beautiful view of the street and watch the light play through. He died in this apartment – he wanted to be back in a space he had created and enjoyed, in which he had given birth to so many of his projects.

Along with his impact on history through his work, this would become his legacy. Melvin, still young and relying on his joyous outlook on life, wanted to live next to these objects – objects that made him happy to reuse and collect them. His many roles throughout his life: astronomer, playwright, a stint on Wall Street, portrait painter, writer, filmmaker, composer and producer, Melvin lived a life without limits, celebrating black culture and appreciating human beings without being bound by skin color. Her loving collaborative perspective on life and the world enabled this duality, her many lifetimes as an artist and creator instilling in her a vast love for life and all its quirks.

Ye Qin Zhu, A myth made for you, 2021, Mixed media, 46h x 21.50wx 3.50d inches. Ye Qin Zhu, Merciful River Body, 2021, Mixed media, 50.50hx 25w x 3.50d inches
Nicole Awai, now you see me fearless
Nicole Awai, Abstrahere and Drawn Away
Tyrone Mitchell, Self-Assurance
Forrest Kirk, Tut language

Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling and their COMBINATIONS of Fall 2022 group exhibitions, featuring artists: Elia Alba, Nicole Awai, Alteronce Gumby, Forrest Kirk, Tyrone Mitchell, Sable Elyse Smith, Chris Watts and Ye Qin Zhu, curated by Damien Davis and Alaina Simone. This exhibition runs until February 2023.

Thanks to unique multidisciplinary practices, COMBINATIONS juxtaposes works by artists who exploit disparate materials, processes and concepts. Through intentionality and material, these artists reorient what we can do, reinventing boundaries and redefining the intended meaning of various mediums and symbols.

Drawing on their personal experiences and the collective experience of being artists who give meaning to objects and ideas, the eight artists are in conversation with each other and with the divine idea of ​​​​humanity in his outfit.

Elias Alba questions the self and human relationships through his sculptural ritual objects, photography and video. Nicole Awai dissects the meanings behind words and symbols through her exploration of her identity as a black Caribbean woman. Through Alteronce Gymby’s spectrum of fluorescent and chromatic colors, the artist engages with us and expands the notions through which we perceive form and color, subjectivity over identity, materiality on earth and in cosmic space. In tandem, Forrest Kirk’s paintings use a variety of mediums, from oils and acrylics to bubble wrap, fabric and gorilla glue; his images capture anxiety-inducing power structures in contemporary urban environments.

Multidisciplinary artist Tyrone Mitchell has shown the broad influence of his extensive travels through the integration of various media into his practice, from stone and wood carving, to tapestry, installation, performance and art. objects. Sable Elyse Smith is well versed in the art of protest and has been one of the leading artists to wrestle with the thematic concepts of prison reform and social change in her work. Chris Watts interrogates social and personal narratives around embodiment and visibility through his collection of pigments. Finally, Ye Qin Zhu refers to Eastern mythology through his mystical creations; driven by his personal experiences of finding accommodation, he is in dialogue with movements of dualities, such as belonging and displacement.

The artists featured in this group exhibition join their unique narratives that speak of history, African and Eastern diasporic culture, mythology, visibility and identity to explore the dualities of humanity and meaning. . Through this dissection, they not only define but celebrate what it means to be human and to exist in a world full of complexity and dichotomies.

Key words:
Alaina Simone, Alteronce Gumby and Ye Qin Zhu, Chris Watts, Damien Davis, Elia Alba, Forrest Kirk, Melvin Van Peebles, Nicole Awai, Sable Elyse Smith, Tyrone Mitchell

The press release and photographs are courtesy of the gallery and the artists.