A Soulful Salute to Cleveland’s Black Residents and a Path to Recreating Our Arts Ecosystem City-wide exhibition Imagine Otherwise open across Cleveland

March 15, 2021

Museum of Creative Human Art; ThirdSpace Action Lab; moCa Cleveland; Black Liberation Center

 

Shikeith, still waters run deep, 2021 (still). Ship sails, water, blue led lights, wood, five-channel video projection, sound.  Dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist.

“What happens when we proceed as if we know this, antiBlackness, to be the ground on which we stand, the ground from which we to attempt to speak, for instance, an “I” or a “we” who know, an “I” or a “we” who care?” - Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being

moCa Cleveland, ThirdSpace Action Lab and Museum of Creative Human Art (MOCHA) are proud to jointly announce the opening of the group exhibition Imagine Otherwise on February 18, 2021. Imagine Otherwise expresses the boundlessness and fierceness of Black imagination and love despite ongoing antiBlack violence as it thinks with Christina Sharpe’s groundbreaking book In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Featuring artists Shikeith, Imani Dennison, Amber N. Ford, and Antwoine Washington, this multimedia exhibition spotlights Black pathways to self-determination and collective liberation through photographic, sculptural, mixed media, and video-based installations. This careful navigation, or “wake work,” to use Sharpe’s term, operates beyond representational politics as it interrogates spatial and temporal tensions of disenfranchisement, resistance, memory, visibility, loss, and (re)invention across Black cultures.

Shikeith explores how Black queer re-making is a sacred space and practice in his two-part installation, still waters run deep / fall in your ways (2021). Using poetry, historical narratives, ambient recordings of children’s rhymes, shades of blue, dance, and organic elements such as water, Shikeith maps Black men’s negotiations of intimacy and routes toward freedom beyond architectural and societal constraints.

Imani Dennison’s NO MAS- Irreversible Entanglements (2020), filmed on location in Johannesburg, South Africa, offers a dream-like meditation. In only eight minutes, vibrant imagery coupled with the fluid, yet energetic, free jazz and poetry of the Philadelphia, New York, Washington DC-based group Irreversible Entanglements presents an intoxicating, otherworldly Afro-futurist vision of Black people escaping all terrestrial confinements.

Amber N. Ford’s detailed photographic attention to relationships of subjects and infinite patterning zooms in and out through Strands, Tracks & Naps (2021). Reminiscent of a display of coiffures in a hair salon, lush color portraits, small studies, and collage superimposed on a dense close-up of passion twists express the vast geography of Black ways of being.

Antwoine Washington employs domestic furnishings and murals as visual storytelling in And Yeah, About that Seat at the Table (2021). Sited at the Museum of Creative Human Art (MOCHA), the organization he co-founded, the artist’s multimedia installation highlights how that proverbial access point to power is illusory for most Black people, while also honoring a long history of Black self-making.

Organized by La Tanya S. Autry, founder of the Black Liberation Center and Gund Curator in Residence, moCa Cleveland’s first on-staff Black curator creating exhibitions in its 52-year history, Imagine Otherwise is unlike any other curatorial project funded by the institution. Autry states, “To 'imagine otherwise' involves countering systemic racism and nurturing our ability to envision other worlds, other ways of being in the world.” As a manifestation of “wake work,” this city-wide initiative is sited at moCa Cleveland (Shikeith), ThirdSpace Action Lab in Glenville (Imani Dennison and Amber N. Ford), and Museum of Creative Human Art in Lakewood (Antwoine Washington). Autry envisions possibilities beyond moCa Cleveland’s consistent antiBlack practices by partnering with these Black-led and centered organizations that regularly care for Black residents and others while challenged with far smaller budgets than many area white-led and centered arts institutions.

Autry, who is co-producer of the global Museums Are Not Neutral initiative and founder of the Black Liberation Center, shares, “This long history of exclusion in a majority Black city is an indication of antiBlackness. Black people and other racialized people have not been a part of the moCa Cleveland’s top level management in over half a century. It’s best to look at Black led and centered organizations if you are interested in places that regularly actively oppose antiBlackness.” Offered during another heightened time of national racial crisis, Imagine Otherwise is a limited, yet hopefully, significant prodding for an authentic, community-led institutional reckoning of moCa Cleveland and a soulful salute to the city’s Black dwellers who persist by always imagining otherwise.

Public programming across all three locations will be announced in March.

Click Here to Download Press Images
Exhibition locations:

ThirdSpace Action Lab, Glenville

1464 E 105th St #302, Cleveland, OH 44106

Hours: February 18-March 31: Wednesday-Saturday 12-6PM. Beginning April 1, the gallery hours will change. Please check back for an updated schedule to be released in mid-March.

Museum of Creative Human Art (MOCHA), Lakewood

13200 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107

Hours: February 18-April 11: Thursday-Saturday 11AM-5PM or by appointment only; April 12-June 6: by appointment only Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (moCa), Cleveland 11400 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106

Hours: February 18-June 6: Thursday-Saturday 11AM-5PM

About La Tanya S. Autry

As a cultural organizer in the visual arts, La Tanya S. Autry, the Gund Curator in Residence at moCa Cleveland, centers collective care in her liberatory curatorial praxis. In addition to co-creating The Art of Black Dissent and the Social Justice & Museums Resource List, she co-produced #MuseumsAreNotNeutral, a global initiative that exposes the fallacies of the neutrality claim and calls for an equity-based transformation of museums. Her latest project, the Black Liberation Center, an experimental series of exhibitions, workshops, and programming, spotlights arts and culture that envision and strategize paths toward the freedom of all Black people, and thus, all people.

About the artists

Shikeith (b. 1989 in Philadelphia, PA) lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA. He received a BA from The Pennsylvania State University (2010) and an MFA in Sculpture from The Yale School of Art (2018). His expansive practice investigates the experiences of Black men within and around concepts of psychic space, the blues, and Black queer fugitivity. He has shared his work nationally and internationally through recent exhibitions and screenings that include The Language Must Not Sweat, Locust Projects, Miami, FL; Notes Towards Becoming A Spill, Atlanta Contemporary, Atlanta, GA; Shikeith: This was his body/His body finally his, MAK Gallery, London, UK; Go Tell It: Civil Rights Photography, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA; A Drop of Sun Under The Earth, MOCA LA, Los Angeles, CA; Labor Relations, Wroclaw Contemporary Museum, Poland; and Black Intimacy: An Evening With Shikeith, MoMA, New York, NY. Recent awards include the Painters & Sculptors Grant from The Joan Mitchell Foundation (2019), Art Matters Foundation Grant (2020), Leslie Lohman Museum Artist Fellowship (2020-2021).

Imani Dennison is a Multi-Hyphenate Creative, born in Louisville, Kentucky. Imani graduated from Howard University in Washington, DC where she studied Political Science and Photography. Upon completing her degree at Howard, she went on to earn a certificate in Photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa. Imani has been working as a Cinematographer based in Brooklyn New York where she has lensed short films, documentaries, branded campaigns and music videos. Imani’s work explores themes of surrealism, Blackness, and Fantasy. Imani also works as a Photographer and has created bodies of portraiture and documentary work exploring global Blackness.

Amber N. Ford is an artist based in Cleveland, OH. She received her BFA in Photography from the Cleveland Institute of Art (2016). Interested in race, and identity, she is best known for her work in portraiture, which she considers a “collaborative engagement between photographer and sitter.” Her work has been featured in exhibitions at Kent State University, Transformer Station, SPACES Gallery, The Morgan Conservatory, The Cleveland Print Room, Zygote Press, Waterloo Arts and in outdoor public space on the Capitol Theatre Building located at the corner of Detroit and West 65th. Recent awards include Gordon Square Arts District Artist-In-Residence (2019) and the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award (2017).

Antwoine Washington, originally from Pontiac, MI, lives and works in Cleveland, OH. With his wife Carlise Washington, he has two children, Grayson and Luca. He earned his BA in Studio Art from Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, LA. His studies of Black history and art at Southern inspired Washington to continue the legacy of Harlem Renaissance artists such as Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, and Jacob Lawrence. Following a stroke he suffered in 2018, Washington found healing in his art. He has exhibited widely at the Cleveland Print Room, Worthington Yards, The Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Rooms to Let and Artist Archives of the Western Reserve. His public art commission with Land Studios includes his 154 years mural located in Cleveland Public Square. In 2020, Washington co-founded Museum of Creative Human Art, a non-profit organization centered on teaching art.

About ThirdSpace Action Lab

ThirdSpace Action Lab was created to disrupt the vicious cycle of disinvestment and displacement that negatively impacts the vitality of low-income communities of color. We are a grassroots research, strategy & design cooperative, dedicated to prototyping creative place-based solutions to complex socioeconomic problems. We are institutional and community organizers, turning multidisciplinary research into evidence-based strategies; and activating “third places” to co-creating more liberated spaces for people of color. We believe that the future of Cleveland’s neighborhoods depends on our collective efforts to transcend the limitations of the popular imagination and consider what will be possible if we insist on the beauty of forgotten places, the value of the people who live there, and seize the opportunity to realize our shared vision for an equitable and inclusive society. We are committed to making this vision a reality. We believe that racial equity and inclusion are central, non-negotiable components of a viable growth strategy. We believe that human-centered design framework applied in communities of color should be inspired by all residents—especially, those who called this place home before its revitalization. Above all, we believe in the sanctity of humanity—that all humans have intrinsic value, deserve beauty, and need more than their basic needs satisfied.

About Museum of Contemporary Human Art (MOCHA)

“Inspiring the next generation of artists, the Museum of Creative Human Art uses a character-based approach to bridge creative expression with education and personal development. We provide a space for underserved youth to learn, connect, create, and share. At the heart of our work is a focus on cultivating conscientiousness, moral agency, core values, and the social attitudes necessary for individuals to make meaningful contributions to society. We encourage young artists to produce independently, but also reinforce shared imaginative exploration to spark fresh ideas and works of art. We aim to equip young, underserved artists with the tools to express their thoughts, emotions, and views through various art forms.” —Antwoine Washington, Cleveland SCENE

About Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (moCa Cleveland)

moCa offers exhibitions and programs that provide public value and make meaning of the art and ideas of our time. Since its founding in 1968, moCa has presented the works of more than three thousand artists, often through artists’ first solo shows. moCa was the first in the region to exhibit the works of many vanguard artists, including Laurie Anderson, Christo, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol. Recent artist commissions and solo exhibitions include work by Sondra Perry, Aleksandra Domanović, Tauba Auerbach, Simon Denny, Adam Pendleton, Lisa Oppenheim, Sara VanDerBeek, and Michelle Grabner.

All current moCa Cleveland exhibitions are funded by Leadership Circle gifts from an anonymous donor, Yuval Brisker, Joanne Cohen & Morris Wheeler, Margaret Cohen & Kevin Rahilly, Grosvie & Charlie Cooley, Becky Dunn, Harriet Goldberg, Agnes Gund, Richard & Michelle Jeschelnig, Jan Lewis, Toby Devan Lewis, and Kelly & Scott Mueller. moCa Cleveland is provided institutional support in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, an anonymous donor, the Cleveland Foundation, the George Gund Foundation, the Leonard Krieger Fund of the Cleveland Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council, the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation, the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation, and the continuing support of the museum’s Board of Directors, patrons, and members.

Press Contacts

moCa Cleveland

Tom Poole

tpoole@mocacleveland.org

440.364.8805

 

ThirdSpace Action Lab

Brittany Benton

brittany@3rdspaceactionlab.co

 

Museum of Contemporary Human Art (MOCHA)

Antwoine Washington

antwoinewashingtonart@gmail.com 

###


 

IMAGE: Shikeith, still waters run deep, 2021 (still). Ship sails, water, blue led lights, wood, five-channel video projection, sound. Dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist.