Sunday, April 27, 2008

Review from Scene Magazine 4-16-08

Blakxtraploitationism — Billed by curator Julius Lyles as "a visual, social, political, racial interpretation art exhibit," Blakxtraploitationism presents work by artists who refuse to shy away from loaded content. And, with more than 50 objects by 11 artists, the group exhibition smartly contrasts artworks relaying up-front, blatant messages with more nuanced pieces. Richard Karberg's "The Sons and Daughters of Darfur" consists of photographic reprints of three slides of Darfurian children that the artist took while traveling in Africa in the 1970s. Beneath the casual vacation-snapshot aesthetic and bright, carefree colors lies the question of whether the children remain alive as adults today. On a nearby podium stands one of ceramist Tracy Amenn's cookie jars, Aunt Jemima-type figures with bloated red lips shown doing menial household tasks like baking and the laundry. Amenn's unapologetic appropriation of the black mammy stereotype is undeniably shocking. Viewers' responses to Lyles' "Seduction of the Colored Preference" may depend on their political leanings: The artist paints rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama cozying up to each other, with an adoring Clinton leaning her head on Obama's shoulder. The most powerful images in the show are the three black-and-white portraits of Iraqi men photographed by Frank Xavier Weiss, a member of the U.S. military — pictures that possess a humanizing element absent from the barrage of war images supplied by the news media. Through May 3 at Asterisk Gallery, 2392 Professor Ave., 330-304-8528. — Theresa Bembnister