Mary S. Byrd Gallery of Art will proudly present Marginalized and Mythological: Shanequa Gay’s Disruption of the Pastoral Landscape, January 11 – February 16, 2018. The exhibition features selections of Shanequa’s source materials, her sketches, and three distinct installations to include a video, a domestic setting and a mural inside the gallery. Influenced by her research of printed fabric and its history, Shanequa’s designs reflect her interest in the Civil Rights era, Southern vernacular and current issues faced by African Americans.
More than a year in the making, in 2016 I traveled to Atlanta as part of my job as Gallery Director of Augusta University’s Mary S. Byrd Gallery of Art, two Augusta University students in tow, for a studio visit with artist Shanequa Gay. As a Creative Project participant (2015-2017), Shanequa enjoyed a studio at the Goat Farm Arts Center- a visual and performing arts center located on Atlanta's Westside.
We arrived at the Goat Farm and were met by, yes, that's right - goats. It was a big treat for the students and me to visit with Shanequa and talk about her artwork. While there, we also took a tour of the Goat Farm whose War Horse Coffee Shop and its eclectic decor make for an inspiring and hip scene.
Following the visit to the Goat Farm, we toured the Georgia State University graduate studios where Shanequa showed me a remnant of red and beige toile fabric with a black and gold deertaur- a mythological creature with the head of a deer and the body of a man that Gay often uses in her work to reference the ‘hunted’ status of the African American male, embroidered upon it. That was it - that magical moment between an artist and curator when the juices started to flow.
In January, the Mary S. Byrd Gallery of Art will showcase this continuing body of work in an unusual presentation that will share the artist's source materials, research and my curatorial narrative of the collaboration. The exhibit features Shanequa’s subversive take on pastoral toile, using its historical roots to represent a take on current African American issues.
Marginalized and Mythological: Shanequa Gay's Disruption of the Pastoral Genre will open on January 11 and remain on display through February 16, 2018. Viewers will enjoy a mural along the left wall inside of the gallery, a domestic setting featuring a 1950's style dress and table linens sewn by from the artist's toile, a table setting complete with a lunch plate, a soup bowl, a bread plate and a cup and saucer and an artist designed video.
Until then, please enjoy these images that provide a sneak of the what's to come and prove that yes, I do have a cool job.
Author: Shannon Morris
Shannon is the Gallery Director of Augusta University’s Mary S. Byrd Gallery of Art.