WHEN THE STARS BEGIN TO FALL
Contemporary Southern Artists
February 5 – May 10
Ms. Hen loves things that are strange. Anything strange. She loves the ICA because it always changes and there is always a surprise waiting around the corner. She braved the walk to the museum on a cold February afternoon to see the show by Southern African American artists entitled WHEN THE STARS BEGIN TO FALL.
The show is of 35 different artists and each piece is different. Ms. Hen didn’t like everything she saw, but she did like much of it. A large piece, SATELLITES, by Jacolby Satterwhite, full of color and showing different parts of human experience struck Ms. Hen with the emotion the painting evoked.
When Ms. Hen first walked in, she saw Deborah Grant’s panels depicting the life of the artist William Henry Johnson, a folk artist who studied art in America and Europe and died in a psychiatric hospital in Long Island.
One of Ms. Hen’s favorite pieces in the show was by Joe Minter, HOUSEWIFE, which is a collection of vacuum cleaner tops that build a body with a mannequin head on the top. This reminded Ms. Hen of her mother’s favorite saying, “Laundry is my life.” It always made Ms. Hen depressed that her mother said that because Ms. Hen thinks there’s more to life than housework. Ms. Hen does not like to clean. But she does like to do laundry and cook.
Another set of striking objects is by Marie “Big Mama” Roseman. She made quilts until she started making artistic pieces that were made similar to quilts, with appliqué objects on them. Ms. Hen was struck by these because it seemed like the artist was like a quilter gone haywire, like she’d had enough of making things look pretty and she wanted to do her own thing. Ms. Hen admires any person who has the guts enough to do her own thing, including making spastic quilt-like works of art.
In the back corner is a painting by Kerry James Marshall, IF I HAD POSSESSSION OVER JUDGEMENT DAY, which depicts a character from a Minstrel Show, a type of show in which African American were shown as caricatures, and were offensive and racist. The line in the painting is from a Robert Johnson song, a Blues singer who never became famous in his lifetime, but was influential. The painting is striking because of the colors and the harmony of the lines.
Ms. Hen does not claim to be an expert on art, but she knows what she likes. A lot of this show seemed disjointed to her because all the artwork did not seem to go together and it was not all the same caliber. Some of the art is not even worth mentioning, and some of it Ms. Hen didn’t like at all. But she always looks for the good parts of everything, because most of the time there’s a positive side. Ms. Hen is an optimist, even though it’s not easy in a world full of misery and ugliness. But Ms. Hen believes that tomorrow always bring a new day and new light to everything.