Art and Cake

By Sydney Walters, July 3, 2021
Lava Thomas, Clouds of Joy, 2021, tambourines, leather, suede, acrylic mirror, blue acrylic discs, ribbon, 48 x 137 inches, Courtesy of the artist and Rena Bransten Gallery
The Aftermath of a Spiritual Revival

Pentecostalism is a religious phenomenon marked by the Spirit moving in and through the body. Uncommon physical and emotional experiences are expected to occur because it bears witness to the all-consuming flame of the Holy Spirit. And while collapsing into convulsions, eye rolling, and speaking in tongues could be, and has been, fodder for harsh criticism from skeptics, what Otherwise/Revival packages is Pentecostalism in a gift box of sincerity. By pivoting away from flippancy, Jasmine McNeal and Cara Megan Lewis curate a series of work seasoned with affection and rebellion, making the exhibition not only a unique and specialized production, but also a powerful showcase of history and community.

The unorthodox testimonies of the1906 Azusa Street Revival presided by Rev. William J. Seymour, shaped a spiritual movement resulting in modern Pentecostalism. Over twenty artists respond to this movement by crafting their histories and venturing into the gauzy realm of divine expression.

The work of Caroline Kent and Ashton T. Crawley read like painted visions. Eruptions of colors and symbols conjure a composition driven by spontaneity and urgency. Celestial galaxies, also used by Deana Lawson, suggest a far-reaching and eternal timeline glitched by limited vision. Mark Steven Greenfield references one of the oldest representations of Jesus’ mother, the Black Madonna, in several gold-leafed paintings.

The pulling of timelines and weaving them into present history is how many artists evoke the eternal and lasting effects of spiritual enlightenment. This system of tugging at the otherwise, equip these artists to shape a future anointed with agency and power.

Featured artists: Terry Adkins, Terry Adkins, McArthur Binion, Folayemi (Fo) Wilson of blkHaUS Studios, Norman Teague of Norman Teague Design Studios (NTDS), Angela Bryant, Willie Cole, Ashon T. Crawley, Kenturah Davis, Mark Steven Greenfield, Lauren Halsey, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Letitia Huckaby, Sedrick Huckaby, Clementine Hunter, VinZula Kara, Caroline Kent, Deana Lawson, Nery Gabriel Lemus, Christina McPhee, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Dario Robleto, Lezley Saar, Zina Saro-Wiwa, Phyllis Stephens, Lava Thomas, Sara Sonié Joi Thompson-Ruffin, Genesis Tramaine, Kehinde Wiley, Brittney Leeanne Williams, Nate Young.

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