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February Issue 2005

Tessera Gallery in Winston-Salem, NC, Offers Exhibit to Celebrate of Black History Month

Tessera Gallery in Winston-Salem, NC, is presenting the exhibit, Faces: A Celebration of Black History Month, a juried show featuring artists from across the country, on view from Feb. 11 through Mar. 20, 2005.

The gallery received entries from across the country; selected artists come from as far away as California and as close as Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. A unique theme emerged in most of the submissions. Almost all focused on the faces, and thereby the stories, of African Americans past, present and future. The idea of the face of the African American family was also explored, and several works will be featured that highlight this exploration.

Artists and works include: Tom Block (Silver Spring, MD), Shaka Sankofa; Jessica Burke (Greensboro, NC), New American Family; Douglas Butler (Crumpler, NC), Songhai Villager and Mosque Attendant; Keina Davis Elswick (San Francisco, CA), Sarah's Family; Tosh Fomby (Atlanta, GA), A Family; Lorrie Guess (Durham, NC), Roscoe Holcomb; Jonathan Mason (Atlanta, GA), Our Future and Singing Her Song; Michael Pendergrass (High Point, NC), Gelee; Gailene McGhee St. Amand (Hoboken, NJ), Memorial Altar for my Elders; and Danae Tilghman (Winston-Salem, NC), Lab Coat.

Artist Tom Block's work Shaka Sankofa is part of a larger collection called the Human Rights Painting Project, organized in support of Amnesty International. The project highlights the struggle for human rights across the world and the important work of Amnesty International. The work was inaugurated at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, DC, in April 2002. Since then the works have been exhibited across the country and highlighted in national media and publications. Block will bring the entire exhibit to Tessera Gallery in late summer for a solo exhibit.

The exhibit also includes works by Atlanta-based artists Tosh Fomby and Jonathan Mason. Fomby began her art career as a portrait artist, and today the self-taught painter's subjects are reflective of her southern roots, yet reminisce cross-cultural themes with colorful figuratives, landscapes and abstracts. Mason, who lived in Winston-Salem for a brief time, practiced law until early 2004. He began his love of photography while taking pictures of sunsets from his office building in Atlanta. It was through this relatively simple pleasure that he realized his true passion.

Keina Davis Elswick, a San Francisco-based artist, describes her work as "Urban Folklore" and creates artwork centered around an individual's journey to Sivad. Elswick explains, "In my work, Sivad represents not only a fictitious urban village where all the people portrayed are traveling to physically, but an internal, spiritual journey. Each painting reflects a pivotal moment in an individual's journey."

Gailene McGhee St. Amand divides her time between New Orleans, LA, and Hoboken, NJ, and has exhibited everywhere in between. Her work was created as "Sacred Space," with the box holding two images representative of two worlds, the Physical and the Spiritual.

The exhibit also features works by local artists, including two Triad college students. Jessica Burke, of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Danae Tilghman, of Wake Forest University, both submitted works addressing issues facing African Americans in the 21st century. Burke, in her work New American Family, expresses her "reaction to issues about gender and sexuality, specifically on the idea of femininity within the context of lesbian stereotypes." Tilghman, meanwhile, focuses on the struggles that African Americans continue to face in the professional arena with her work, which is painted on a crisp, white lab coat.

Additional North Carolina-based artists featured include Michael Pendergrass, a largely self-taught artist who began his interest in art as a young child growing up in the South. He was discouraged from pursuing his passions, saying "When I told my friends and family of my plans, all I heard was that there weren't any "colored" artists and I might as well forget it. After all this was the old South of the early 60's. Quite frankly I hadn't heard of any artist of color either." Pendergrass was determined to succeed as an artist and has exhibited around the country.

Artists Douglas Butler and Lorrie Guess complete the North Carolina artists. Crumpler-based Butler is an accomplished mountain climber who has been traveling the world for more than 20 years. He has visited five continents, exploring areas of the Amazon and Arctic, Africa and Asia, taking his camera on each trip. Butler says, "I wish to photograph native cultures, wildlife and landscapes in a sensitive, realistic style, trying to show the beauty, wonder and essence of the scene." His articles and photographs appear in numerous regional and national publications, and he has also published Ashe County: Discovering the Lost Province, a guidebook about his home county in North Carolina.

Guess, based in Durham, NC, graduated from the University of Chapel Hill with a degree in Visual Communication. Her work is heavily influenced by her graphic design training and emphasizes the "luminosity (brightness) of colors, rather than hue." Guess says that she uses her work to explore her notions of vision and ways of seeing, "not unlike how Impressionist artists strove to redefine visual perception."

For further information check our NC Commercial Gallery listings, call the gallery at 336/722-5220, or e-mail at (art@tesseragallery.com).

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