November 3 – November 25, 2017
Marcus Brathwaite & Justin Woody
Exhibition of the work of Marcus Brathwaite and Justin Woody, discovering aspects of being a black male in today’s society.
Marcus Brathwaite graduated from Cleveland Institute of Art in 2012 with a degree in Ceramics. You may have seen him djing bumpin jams at your local art gathering or helping you out with a project at the Sears think[box] where he is a full time Studio Manager. For this exhibition, he has made new work in printmaking.
“My work uses the comb as a symbol to represent the complexity of what it means to be an American member of the African diaspora. Black hair is a location of complex meaning for us and others. Do I limit my self-expression as a black man by assimilating to the beauty standards of dominant white culture and choose to wear a low and clean-cut hairstyle? Or, do I potentially limit my social mobility and access to certain kinds of employment by choosing to grow “natural”, long and nappy deadlocks. While I believe that the definition of what it means to be black exists nowhere, and does not have a singular fixed position, I am continually fascinated by trends in music and styles of clothing that emerge in modern culture that directly reference Africa and just seem so Black. The thread still somehow exists between us and that place.
As an American man it is only through visiting museums, searching the internet and reading books that I learn about past African cultures and the significance of the comb within them. I have never been to Africa and I do not consider myself to be African, I am a black man. It amazes me that despite the long-standing systematic oppression of black people in America, we are still to this day connected to our place of origin. Not by language or customs, but by some other mysterious thread. My work is an attempt to understand the unique persistence of African culture through all of its permutations, struggle, and beauty”.
Justin Woody graduated from Cleveland Institute of Art in 2015 with a degree in Painting. Making work in performance is a big part in his practice as he is a actor in many theatrical performances in the Akron/ Canton area. For the past six months, Justin has been an artist in residence at Praxis, learning how to weave on a loom. He will showcase new woven collages.
“My six-month residency at Praxis was a huge learning experience, filled with moments of uncertainty, confusion and wonder. With choosing weaving as my medium, I wanted to do something I didn’t know how to do and the loom was so foreign to me. There were many moments where I felt confident in my process, but there is no doubt I could not have done it without the help of my Praxis Ladies.
Weaving is an art that takes time, dedication, persistence, and a lot of repetition. In many ways it can be closely related to doing hair, especially the moments where I get stuck, places that need more time and more care to work through the rough patches. The materials I use are familiar objects in my life: grandma’s jewelry, blunt wraps and weave. Incorporating these materials within the weavings is what took the most time, combing through and stopping constantly (NAP).
When I think about the word NAPS, I think of black people and black hair: a stopping point that you work through to move on. NAPS is a word that is so unapologetically black that for me goes beyond just hair. It is about the life of being black, struggles and liberties included. It is being a black man or a black woman, combing through life that has those challenges and those hard ships that can be tough to work through at times. Once we get through those rough patches, those NAPS, the end result can be quite rewarding and fulfilling. That’s the magic that makes us so beautiful”.