Curating for the Culture: 36 Years In The Making Courtney Brooks March 15th, 2019
I was born to do this. By this, I mean curating my art life into a place of passion, peace and purpose.I turned 36 years old this year. Ironically, so did the ArtsXchange - a cultural community center known for serving artists of many disciplines. Since 1983, The ArtsXchange has been a proud grassroots organization that provides a place for creatives whether emerging or experimental, to explore, develop and connect ideas. After closing their original location in 2017 , they purchased and renovated an old elementary school in East Point. The doors for the new location opened this year, in January of 2019. I knew it was my time. Confidently, I moved forward with proposing the opportunity to curate three unique exhibitions for their new Jack Sinclair Gallery.
As a woman of color curator, I leveled up.
On January 10, 2019 the doors open to the gallery with the first installation, The Art of Values , a group exhibition of 19 amazing local artists who trusted me to share their work. The brand new space with pearly white walls and tile floors was filled with colorful paintings, print works and photography. Each piece explored values that represented virtue, activism, love, understanding, expression and solidarity in their own unique way. Some focused on self care, internal reflections, growth and happy feelings. While others brought up social justice issues, dealing with racism, poverty and women
empowerment. Guests filled the room to support the establishment , the artists and myself. It was truly a magical moment. Collectors gained new works for their homes, beneficial relationships were formed and my confidence grew even more when I read that over 70 visitors signed the guestbook opening night. As a woman of color curator, I leveled up. I knew I was headed in the right direction to serve as a bridge in the arts community. Realizing that the hard work I had dedicated much of my younger years had positioned me up for this level of success. This was the first stage of how the Sinclair Gallery and I, together, would continue to grow.
Her vision will be seen with closed eyes and her words are spoken with sealed lip
My My February exhibit proposed was a double dedication to Black History, transitioning into Women’s History Month. Currently on display until March 30, 2019, experience S h e r o: A Sistagrapghy and Friends Exhibition pays homage to Black women photographers. As a visual artist, I am most inspired by photography because I use photos as references to help create my art. It has been an honor to work with Sistagraphy, a collective of African American women photographers in Atlanta. For over 25 years after Shelia Turner founded the organization, they continue to widely share their works and their photographic skills. For me, being able to display works from various generations is a humbling experience. I have learned more during this showing than any exhibit I have curated before. HERstory literally hangs on the gallery’s wall. Images of Black girl magic lights up the room with photos of novelist and poet Alice Walker, and civil rights activists Coretta Scott King, Betty Shabazz and Myrlie Evers Williams. From flowers blooming in afros, to a black and white 1988 photo of jazz singer Sara Vaughn, each work demands respect upon first glance. Visitors gaze at images representing motherhood, spirituality and the beauty of elders as a reflection of wisdom. These women are graced with strength, vulnerability, courage and freedom . The motto for the show, “Her vision will be seen wit h closed eyes and her words are spoken with sealed lips. ” is referring to the aura of a Black woman, for our presence is undeniable. I hold Shero as the essence of that.
Doing it for the culture and influencing the arts community…
The April exhibit, CATCH ME IN THE A is another group exhibition that will be soulful, thoughtful and inspirational. The lineup of artists are true Atlantans, ATLiens, Georgia peaches and transplants who have made enlightening pathways from old Atlanta to New Atlanta. Doing it for the culture and influencing the arts community, I am super excited to curate Catch Me In The A. Opening up April 6th, 2019 and on display through May 11th, you can “catch me in the A!“ over at the ArtsXchange.
As a Black girl from from Denver, I have always been drawn to the South, especially to Atlanta. The ATL, as it is so cleverly coined, was the first place I was able to connect with artists who looked like me. Not only could I view their works in person but I was able to actually meet and learn from their experiences as art professionals. I have lived here nearly fifteen years, so it was only right to create the next show surrounding artistic visions of this great city. As spring approaches, I am ready for sun kisses, witnessing the leaves turn green on trees and sharing more artworks from creatives who are dedicated to making positive changes through motivating and mentoring the youth. Atlanta is rich in history, the people, the vibe, whether it is the good, bad and ugly, it is our responsibility to keep the legacy of Atlanta alive and create a better one at the same time.
Honoring the name, the person.
Jack Sinclair came to the Arts Exchange in the early 1980's. Jack brought with him formidable skills as a carpenter, contacts, and a vision. Jack created from scratch and no cash, the "Metropolitan Gallery" at the Grant Park Arts Exchange. He ran the gallery while building out the theater, looked after the massive boiler, and renovated the old cafeteria into an incredible loft apartment. The Board and Staff are honored to dedicate our new East Point gallery the “Jack Sinclair Gallery” at the ArtsXchange. - written by Alice Lovelace.