This post was updated on Dec. 31 at 12:53 p.m. for clarification.
Are you looking for North Texas artists to support? Well, grab your mask and hand sanitizer because Dallas’ Ro2 Art Gallery is showcasing artwork by Ciara Elle Bryant and Brandon Thompson, two up-and-coming local artists. Even from your home, take a virtual tour of the gallery and installations. Let’s take a look at the two exhibitions on view until Jan. 30:
When Dallas-based artist Ciara Elle Bryant showed her multimedia installation earlier this year, “Server: A Steamed Revolution,” at Nasher Sculpture Center’s Nasher Window’s series, it consisted of a room dedicated to celebrate, save and archive Black culture. For the installation, Bryant collaged together images of Black Lives Matter protests, a tribute to Breonna Taylor, self-portraits, as well as Twitter memes and posters.
A third rendition of the installation has made its way to Ro2 Art Gallery, called “Server 3.0.” This time, Bryant collaged together images that reflect her armor, she said, “the things I wear as I walk in the world as a Black woman.”
Part of the armor concept came from Bryant’s childhood. Growing up, she would get her natural hair strengthened every Wednesday after school. Now, she’s empowered to wear clothing and accessories that make her feel ready to face the world. Whether that’s hoop earrings, a gold chain, a gold ring her grandmother gave her or her Nike Air Force sneakers.
“It turned into what made me feel comfortable in the world and what made me feel like I was supposed to be there versus being super reserved and existing the way European beauty standards told me to exist.”
Inspired by women in entertainment, Bryant’s installation pays homage to Black beauty and hair. She includes Whitney Houston on Vibe Magazine’s 1995 cover, performer FKA twigs, as well as women in different ’90s hairstyles. To embody her vision of beauty, Bryant includes a new self-portrait, “Da Vinci Met Yung Rapunxel.” It features Bryant glamorized in a four-foot-long green braid, gold jewelry and green eyeliner.
Hard Work, No Play
Brandon Thompson’s Ro2 Art Gallery’s exhibition “Hard Work, No Play” captures works that reflect his memories and the Cedar Hill community he grew up in. Most of Thompson’s work reflects Black culture and everyday moments amplified in cartoonish paintings.
In the exhibition, the North Texas artist welcomes new works of a fox-like character. It was inspired by Br-er Rabbit and Br-er Fox, reminiscent of the African American folk trickster figures. In the story, Be-er Fox was always outwitted by the rabbit. In this case, the fox represents Thompson’s emotions and thoughts. He said the fox, or the bag guy, might just be misunderstood.
One of the paintings in the exhibition is titled “They Jus Some Haters.” The fox, dressed in human clothes, racks up leaves. Thompson said the inspiration for it came from a funny daydream he had.
“What if some squirrels just decided to like grab the bag of leaves that I worked so hard on cleaning up and just pouring it down,” Thompson said.
Those everyday moments and daydreams capture Thompson’s work. He said he comes up with scenarios to entertain himself.
At the start of his art journey, Thompson made work related to social critiques.
He said he stays away from the Black Lives Matter movement in his artwork because it feels like performance art.
“People were exploiting Black trauma and trying to sell Blackness,” Thompson said. “I wanted to make a character that’s not confined to race.”
Thompson said it’s not authentic and “there’s more to me than just oppression.”
“Hard Work, No Play” and “Server 3.0,” will be up until Jan. 30.
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