On view: 11-Jan-2018 21-Feb-2018
Selina Akter & Anna Rowan
On view January 11 – February 21, 2018
Common Ground is an autobiographical two-woman show featuring the work of two friends, Selina Akter and Anna Rowan. Both artists come from vastly different backgrounds and view their upbringings differently; one with positivity and nostalgia, and the other with bittersweet, smoldering beauty, tempered with an almost frenetic energy. As with most things, it is complicated. The study in contrasts is fascinating. Common Ground traces key moments in artists’ life and culminates in a large collaborative piece symbolizing their current friendship.
Anna Rowan holds a BFA from Louisiana Tech, while Selina Akter holds a BFA from the University of Colorado, Denver. Rowan has exhibited and curated many projects in Monroe at the Upstairs and Big Room Galleries. She also taught art for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, and Parkview Housing Project. Akter has exhibited extensively in the Denver and Monroe area, as well as in Bangladesh.
On view: 11-Jan-2018 21-Feb-2018
Ana Benaroya: Standing Before Evil
On view January 11 – February 21, 2018
Ana Benaroya: Standing Before Evil is a mural installation depicting the battle between good and evil. This installation uses contemporary takes on archetypal imagery to convey a clear sense of Benaroya’s characters’ moral bearing. Ultimately, her work reveals the subjective nature of good and evil by use of a common color palette and ambiguous facial expressions in her work. Complex and playful, Standing Before Evil uses bold imagery to create an empathic, contemplative space in the Masur Museum of Art’s Lower North Gallery.
Benaroya is the author and illustrator of 120 Ways to Annoy Your Mother (And Influence People). Her design clients include Lincoln Center, The New Yorker, Marc Ecko, WILCO, and ABC’s World News Tonight. Her work was exhibited most recently at Rabbithole Projects, Brooklyn, NY; FISK Gallery, Portland, OR; and Nooworks, San Francisco, CA. During the last several years she was an artist in residence at Newark Print Shop, NJ, and Light Grey Art Lab, Iceland. Benaroya will complete her MFA in Painting at Yale University in 2019.
On view: 01-Sep-2017 28-Feb-2018
Escapism: Places & Spaces
(On view at the Monroe Regional Airport Gallery)
Rodrecas Davis is an Associate Professor of Art at Grambling State University. Escapism: Places & Spaces is a small series of work the Masur Museum of Art commissioned for his exhibition at The Gallery at Monroe Regional Airport. Davis’ rich visual language deals with themes of travel, escape, and black identity using, African folk tales, Hip Hop, Jazz, and other references. His bold color palette and crisp silhouettes create an empowering energy that invites visitors and travelers at the airport to consider their motivations for travelling, as well as their worth.
Rodrecas Davis: Artist Statement
The works created for the show have multiple points of origin: a consideration of the actual physics of flight, an African folktale and the literary work of Toni Morrison.
In the strictest sense, fight is about breaking the bonds of gravity in order to claim a semblance of freedom. This came to mind when planning pieces to best inhabit an airport. Flight and freedom, in a contemporary sense, are class-based activities. These threads are also woven into narrative of the African Diaspora. Via the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, a folktale with origins in the Igbo people speaks of the people who could fly. It’s a throughline in several feature films dealing with the effects of African slavery. As told in Virginia Hamilton’s The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales,
“They say the people could fly. Say that long ago in Africa, some of the people knew magic. And they would walk up on the air like climbin’ up on a gate. And they flew like blackbirds over the fields. Black, shiny wings flappin’ against the blue up there.”
This version is reiterated in Haile Gerima’s Sankofa. In Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust, the alternate telling centers on enslaved Africans claiming their liberty and walking across the water back to Africa. In both instances, it is the power of faith and self-actualization that allows one to “fly free”. This literal, and figurative flight is represented by the recurring birds in the works The King - Fego (Fly Upwards), The Queen - Fego (Fly Upwards), The Group - Ijeoma (Farewell), and The Flock - Fenaba (Fly Home). Seven birds, and seven steps to heaven.
The companion pieces created for this show (Stamps Paid) are based, in part, on a character from Toni Morrison’s Beloved. The character Stamp Paid resonates with me for two reasons. 1) He chose his name, as act of self determination and freedom, and 2) his purpose was to act as a ‘liberation agent’; he ferried souls along the Underground Railroad into a new existence. Whenever I receive a piece of metered postage, I always think of that character and how the stamps on packages are also manifestations of a type of boundless freedom. In particular, the stamps used in these works feature images of people of African and Indigenous descent that were pioneering liberation agents in their own right. Their personage is the foundation for the elevation of many.
Lastly, while all of the works are influenced by music, the title of the exhibition is a contraction of two specific songs; one by James Brown and the other by Jazz musician Donald Byrd. Both recordings are staples in Hip Hop culture, itself a type of liberation agent, and both deal with self-actualization and migration as a means of catalyzing change and claiming power. It is those notions I hope to convey in these works. Looking onward, and upward, and finding oneself elevated.
Down here on the ground, Watching sparrows fly...
-“Down Here on the Ground” (Lyrics by Lou Rawls)
About the Alt Ex Program:
We are rolling out a public art initiative with the goal of putting more great arts entertainment and education front and center in Northeast Louisiana. Called Alt-Ex, short for Alternative Exhibitions, the initiative will feature pop up exhibitions, small-scale public art projects, and off-site artist demonstrations. The first Alt-Ex project is currently on view at the Outside Gallery adjacent to Art Alley downtown. Follow the Masur Museum of Art on Instagram @masurmuseum and on Facebook @masurmuseumofart for more information.
On view: 29-Aug-2017 24-Feb-2018
Selections from the Permanent Collection
The Butler’s Gallery features a small selection of art from our permanent collection. In April the Masur Museum’s permanent collection sustained major smoke damage as a result of a fire in our permanent collection storage facility. Some of the work on view was involved in the fire and was conserved by staff. Other works on view were in the process of being acquired by the museum when the fire occurred. Read the labels to learn more about individual works of art. If you would like to learn more about the fire and art conservation, please be sure to visit on a Tuesday or Thursday to see our art conservation exhibition titled The Lab.