Every day on Art&Seek, we’re talking to people who have tips on art in the time of social distancing. Share yours with us on Facebook, Instagram or @artandseek on Twitter. Click above to hear Ciara Elle Bryant, curator of Vivrant Thang at 500X Gallery, share her tip with KERA’s Nilufer Arsala.
Ciara Elle Bryant remembers feeling so joyous hearing and seeing the music video for Vivrant Thing by rapper Q-Tip. In 1999, it became the fourth rap song to become number one on the Billboard Hot R&B Airplay chart. Q-Tip used the word ‘vivrant’ as a play on the french word ‘vivant,’ which means living.
For Bryant, the word spiraled her into research. She uses the phrase as a way to define what living as a Black woman means, “experiencing, persisting, breathing, surviving, flourishing, prospering and providing nourishment,” she said.
Bryant uses photography and mixed media techniques to explore identity and Black culture in the millennium. She curated 500X’s new exhibition, Vivrant Thang, and recently had her work on display at Nasher Sculpture Center’s Nasher Windows series.
“I decided in the middle of the night that I wanted to have an exhibition at the new space [500X Gallery] and I wanted to highlight some Black artists that I knew were working and have been working in Dallas for the last six or seven years and I wanted to give them space,” Bryant said. “We had just heard about Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery so it was one of those decisions of Black people need Black spaces to show Black art.”
The exhibition is the first show in 500X’s new gallery space at 516 Fabrication St. and will run from Aug. 15 through Sep. 6. The show will feature the work of 12 Black artists, and showcase the multiple facets of Black artwork.
The 12 artists will include some of Dallas’ best, including Jeremy Biggers, Ari Brielle, Ciara Elle Bryant, Xxavier Carter, LaShonda Cooks, Danielle Demetria, Jer’Lisa Devezin, Elizabeth Hill, David Jeremiah, Jas Mardis, Jamila Mendez and Desiree Vaniecia.
There will be a virtual reception on Aug. 15 with an online tour. The artists will talk about their art on the live-stream.
While the exhibition comes during the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and protests against police brutality, its philosophy is that Black art deserves to be shown everywhere, not just in specific times or spaces.
Bryant said during her career it’s been hard to find acceptance in the art world, especially with little representation of Black artists and artists of color.
Within the past three months, Bryant’s received the most attention she’s ever had from bigger galleries.
500X is the city’s oldest member-run gallery and often serves as an entry point into the art world. But in February, the gallery announced it was closing the doors at its long-time space at 500 Exposition Ave. after an order to vacate from its landlord. The eviction came after the gallery’s exhibition Queer Me Now: The Queer Body & Gaze, which included depictions of men having sex with each other.
Now, the gallery’s president Ashley Whitt said that 500X is trying to expand into an inclusive and progressive space that protects artists from censorship.
“I’m really glad that 500X is making a decision to support more artists of color and by giving us space and them space to grow a different vibe for art in Dallas,” Bryant said.
The exhibition will also be on view in-person on Saturdays and Sundays, by appointment only.
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