Arts & Culture

“TO ILLUMINATE ABUNDANCE” Art Exhibit Celebrates Black and Femme Artists

Percy Bartelt, Staff Writer 

Starting on Jan. 21, the Gage and Christensen Galleries became home to the art exhibit “TO ILLUMINATE ABUNDANCE” curated by the 13.4 collection; the collection is in separate places but remains tied together. Created by nine local Black women and femme artists, the exhibit talks about the art of creating and features heartfelt and unique pieces that represent who they are, the lives they’ve lived, the lives they are inspired by, and the experiences they or their communities have had.

The artists all come from different backgrounds, but they’ve come together to create a beautiful homage to all their communities in one cohesive collection. The artists include Ashley Koudou, Kelsi Sharp, Leeya Rose Jackson, Olivia Anizor, Olivia House, Sabrina Peitz, Silent Fox, Terresa Moses and Augsburg alum Marcia Rowe!

“’TO ILLUMINATE ABUNDANCE’ is an important show because it bears witness to a collaboration of joyous art making,” Augsburg’s gallery and exhibition coordinator Jenny Wheatley stated to MPR in a recent interview about the exhibition. “The show is a celebration of power and healing, of bodies and heritage, of playfulness and sincerity. This show is important because it grounds us in our full humanity, and the possibilities of the future.”

All of these artists have their own unique, creative eye and style that is very evident in their pieces. First in the Christensen Gallery is a piece by Silent Fox: a collage of playlists from various artists to display healing through music. Next is an amazing mural done by Moses that reads, “Occupy Space with Glory.” Another piece in the gallery is done by Peitz, which has a self portrait emphasizing her natural curls with flowy and eccentric carpet. Last in the Christensen gallery is a painting done by Anizor, which she titled “Jubilee,” showing her acceptance and wisdom in growing old.

In the Gage Gallery, the first thing we see right in front of the glass is a vintage red sign, created by Sharp, that reads a quote from Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”: “Beware for I am fearless and therefore powerful.” Next is an amazing digital piece of three women standing next to each other with flowers growing all around them, and above them is a beautiful quote by author and social activist bell hooks. Next is one of my favorite pieces in the entire collection — though it’s obviously a difficult competition considering they’re all incredible — which was created by Jackson, who paints a large canvas and has a few smaller circular canvases in the same style. On the canvas reads, “Change is the one unavoidable, ongoing reality of the universe.” The exhibit also includes a large-scale mural, created by House, in the style of a quilt that showcases old photographs from many generations of Black and Brown women in history. Lastly, created by Augsburg alum Rowe is a beautiful painted aura-like and abstract piece in which she wanted to represent growth, peace and abundance. A perfect part of the entire collection as a whole.

I encourage everyone to check out these pieces before the end of the exhibit! There are little booklets that give more information about the pieces and the artists themselves, as well as places to see more art from these talented and incredible local artists. The exhibit runs until Mar. 24, and I very much encourage you to check out the installations and read about the artists yourself!