Black History Month: Experience the immersive noise and weighty beauty of August Wilson Center's Familiar Boundaries. Infinite Possibilities exhibit | Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Black History Month: Experience the immersive noise and weighty beauty of August Wilson Center's Familiar Boundaries. Infinite Possibilities exhibit

Familiar Boundaries. Infinite Possibilities is on view through March 24.

click to enlarge Familiar Boundaries. Infinite Possibilities - AMANDA WALTZ
Amanda Waltz
Familiar Boundaries. Infinite Possibilities
Part of Pittsburgh City Paper's month-long celebration of Black History Month
Walking into the August Wilson Center’s Familiar Boundaries. Infinite Possibilities exhibit, there’s no denying the powerful, intoxicating sense of demanding to be seen and heard. The first-floor gallery immediately immerses guests in the looped audio of Flying Girls, an installation by architect and artist Peju Alatise that uses the innocent singing, giggling voices and images of female Nigerian children. Upstairs, music booms from Shikeith’s multi-channel video installation. The various paintings, sculptures, and other works invite guests to come closer and experience an array of colors, textures, and materials, to bask in the emotional weight of each piece.

That weight extends to the exhibit’s in-depth exploration of the Black experience here and abroad, historically and in the present day, from the slave trade to the Black Lives Matter movement. The aforementioned Flying Girls — making its U.S. debut after becoming the first-ever work by a Nigerian artist to show at the Venice Biennale — plays on the conventional Western ideas of sculpture to become what curator Kilolo Luckett describes as a “social justice installation,” calling for an end to the human trafficking that affects girls all over the world.
click to enlarge Flying Girls - AMANDA WALTZ
Amanda Waltz
Flying Girls
Not far from Flying Girls sits Njena Surae Jarvis’s E. Gun Gun, an impressive piece made from various materials, including the casings of 3,000 discharged bullets. The work honors the legacy of the Black Panthers with its use of felt and black leather, textiles familiar to the group’s chosen garb. At the same time, E. Gun Gun recalls West African culture by mimicking a traditional costume worn by the region’s Yoruba people, a concept that will be further driven home when it becomes part of a dance performance on Wed., Feb. 6 at AWC. Topping it all off is the tip of a fire hose similar to those used against Black protesters during the American Civil Rights movement.

The Café area houses two works looking at the modern immigrant experience: a partly interactive work that invites guests to track their or their ancestors’ migrant journeys on a map, and Marriage Trumps All, created by Lagos-born chef and writer, Tunde Wey. The latter looks at the struggles of international love and dating under the anti-immigration policies of the Trump administration, as demonstrated by Wey displaying a portion of the many government documents required to marry his American wife. As part of the piece, Wey will also host Love In Trump’s America, two dinners (Fri., Feb. 8 and Sat., Feb. 9) meant to facilitate love marriages between immigrants and U.S. citizens.

click to enlarge "Revisions, or standing where the deep waters of everything backed up" - AMANDA WALTZ
Amanda Waltz
"Revisions, or standing where the deep waters of everything backed up"
Besides his video installation, Shikeith flexes his multi-disciplinary muscle with three other pieces, including "Revisions, or standing where the deep waters of everything backed up," a one-of-a-kind sculpture created from blown and cast glass, made in participation with the Pittsburgh Glass Center. Glass also appears in his wall hanging that uses a vintage print of young, Black boxers in training to comment on the necessary self-protectiveness of Black masculinity.

Rounding out the exhibit are the diverse perspectives in the paintings of Tajh Rust, Nakeya Brown, Vaughn Spann, and Stephen Towns; the mirrored, totemic light sculpture of Ethiopian-American artist, Tsedaye Makonnen; the striking, ecologically-focused contributions of veteran artist, Martha Jackson Jarvis; the shape-shifting, multi-dimensional ceramics by Pittsburgh-based artist Kevin Snipes; and the more playful installation We the News: Newsstand by Lizania Cruz.

In trying to encompass the Black experience, Familiar Boundaries. Infinite Possibilities more than delivers with an engaging display of daring, enchanting, and sometimes haunting works.

Familiar Boundaries. Infinite Possibilities continues through March 24. 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Free and open to the public.

Comments (0)