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Darryl Chappell Foundation, Artist Talk Series #4: John Simmons, Earlie Hudnall, Jr., and April Frazier

February 20, 2021 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Image by Earlie Hudnall Jr., The Guardian, 1991, silver gelatin print, Collection of The Grace Museum, Museum Purchase with Funds from Alice and Bill Wright

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Emmy-award winning cinematographer and photographer, John Simmons, ASC, and prolific photographer Earlie Hudnall, Jr., sit down with moderator and photographer April Frazier to share with a global audience their successes, challenges, how they overcame obstacles and to share parts of their life work.

The Artists Talk Series is a program of the Darryl Chappell Foundation focused on providing a platform for artists to share their work with a global audience of artists, patrons and an interested public – at no charge. The Artists Talk provides a virtual platform for emerging and established artists to not only share their work experiences, but obstacles along their path and how they were able to confront and overcome challenges. Artists also depict their most recent work, highlighting the trajectory of their path and art practices.

Last, there is a moderated question & answer segment where the audience asks questions either through live zoom audio questions or via chat feature on Zoom or on YouTube. Artists Talk Series are live streamed via YouTube and Zoom and a recording is posted to the Foundation’s YouTube channel within one week of airing live.

 

Organizer

Darryl Chappell Foundation
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MIXED MEDIA AND STILL LIFE

Works in EMERGENCE are diverse in their subject matter and media, but a few themes reappear throughout. Working in abstraction or in the traditionally peaceful genre of still life, artists like William Carter, Allen Stringfellow, and Jonathan Green express themes of interiority or sociability, history or modernity. Notably, Stringfellow and Ralph Arnold both experimented with media and materials and worked extensively in collage, which allowed them to combine abstract design, figurative imagery, and on occasion political ideas.

Viewers typically expect Black artists to focus on particular aspects of their social and political identities within their work. Where might those expectations come from? Still life, abstraction, and collage may express many different things about artists’ interior lives and their visual and social observation, whether connected to public manifestations of identity or not.

William Carter’s mid-century still life Untitled presents a group of vibrantly colored bottles that invite the viewer’s gaze, set against a similarly colorful background with floral elements like grapes and leaves. They give evidence of conviviality and might be interpreted as symbols of social gatherings, but they could also just be a collection of pleasing forms. We might put Carter’s still life in dialogue with that of Jonathan Green, who became close friends with Carter while living in Chicago. Green’s close-up view of an eloquently simple composition presents oranges, a pear, and a lemon in front of two vessels. Works like this piece call the viewer to examine the objects the artist chose to include, to consider how they interact with each other like bodies in space, and to reflect on their meaning within the traditional genre of still life painting.

Collage might suggest the piecing together of identity from different components that might not usually coexist, giving room for more expansive imaginations of meaning than a straightforward representational image might allow. It could also just be an inventive way of combining colors, shapes, and textures. Allen Stringfellow’s Untitled, a collage from 1962, brings familiar motifs from still life—fruit and flowers, desserts and glassware—together with imagery of artist’s models and performers. Layered with paint and tissue paper that frustrate the viewer’s attempt to get clarity on the subject matter, the bursts of form and colors hint at the splashy abstraction of Stringfellow’s untitled, textured painting made from house paint and particulate on cardboard. Here the artist tests commonly found materials to create new textures and plays with the creation of colors and finishes that diverge from “Western” academic painting methods.

In The Waiting, Arnold constructs a large collage from different paper components, lace, and paint. In the piece, elements of European and African art are placed in dialogue with one another, while some figures appear alone and isolated, others in large groups. Without giving easy answers, Arnold implies questions about social issues. Who is waiting, and for what? In his Love Sign II, which bears the words “Love is Universal,” Arnold asserts the equal validity of all types of romantic affection and love, utilizing collage to convey a more straightforward political message.