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April 2011

Green Hill Center for NC Art in Greensboro, NC, Features Works by André Leon Gray and Shaun Richards

Green Hill Center for NC Art in Greensboro, NC, will present the exhibit, André Leon Gray & Shaun Richards, on view from Apr. 8 through May 29, 2011. An opening reception will be held on Apr. 8, from 5:30-7:30pm.

This exhibition presents an in-depth view of the work of two Triangle artists who both incorporate mixed media in their respective mediums of sculpture and painting. Cultural icons and the influence of advertising, role models and education on identity are investigated by both artists.

André Leon Grey participated in Sculpture Retold at Green Hill Center in 2004 and in the 2009 Gallery Nomads exhibition. His sculptural relief Black Magic (It’s Fantastic) is on view at the new West Building of the North Carolina Museum of Art. Shaun Richards work was first exhibited at Green Hill in 2008 at the Winter Show and in Facing South: Portraits by North Carolina Artists. His large scale works on panel and paintings on mylar will be presented in the Triad for the first time. Both artists are represented by the Flanders Art Gallery in Raleigh.

“Eye gumbo” is the term Gray uses to refer to his assemblages, sculptures, installations, tar paintings, and drawings. As he describes it, the work is “thickened with a roux of Black culture, marinated in social commentary and seasoned with consciousness.” The culinary metaphor based on a dish that combines ingredients and cooking practices of several cultures would also apply to Gray’s use of assemblage and combinations of various media.

Gray has a penchant for discarded, abandoned and time worn objects “that possess their own stories.” Role models, notions of ethnicity and social status, the influence of the media and the education are a strong theme in the works in the current exhibition in which several major pieces incorporate chalkboards, school desks and chairs and textbooks such as Head Full of Doubt, ctl/alt/del or the eloquent Manchild in the Promised Land.

In a recent interview in the art: 21 blog Gray defined the underlying narrative that informs his work as “(in)visibility, a shared history, and the contemporary livelihood of African Americans.”

Gray was born and raised in Raleigh, NC, and is a self-taught artist. He has received several honors. In 2000 he was the first artist to participate in the six-month Regional Emerging Artist in Residence program at Artspace in Raleigh, and received a Regional Artist Project Grant from the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County. He also participated in the Raleigh Red Wolf Ramble public art project, and in 2003 received an Indies Triangle Arts Award for his contribution to the local art community. In addition, Gray’s work figures in the public collections, of the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture at Duke University, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and the Four Sisters Gallery Permanent Collection of Contemporary Self-Taught Art at North Carolina Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount, NC.

Shaun Richards’ works also are created using a variety of media (acrylic, graphite, oil, paper and silver leaf). Nine large works on panel present an overview of his thematic preoccupations. Empire (2008) contains collaged pages from a textbook on the “media of mass communication radio & television” as well as its title in large broadside lettering. These decorative elements jostle with figurative representations in oil of several young boys who look upward where a man and woman with an extended arm resembling a Gustav Klimt mural, and the skeleton of a large bird or dinosaur appear to be rising. Hovering in front of the figures are diagrams of molecules, atomic symbols and chemical formulas.

Though Richards distances himself from any “overt” interpretation of his work, many of his paintings suggest rather dark scenarios of desire, emulation, and social dynamics. In his more recent works such as Closed Captioned and Crash #2: National Treasure painted texts figure centrally in the compositions suggesting the influence of economic and marketing icons from the tobacco and car industries in often apocalyptic scenarios. The jewel-like backgrounds of the artist’s works on mylar are in glowing contrast to the gnarled and burnt black forms of tangled steel that once were cars.

Richards attended Hagerstown Junior College in Maryland before transferring to UNC-Wilmington, where he earned a BA in Art in 1999. In 2003, he enrolled in SUNY Empire State College as a non-matriculated graduate student. He moved to Raleigh in August 2006, and in January 2007 he was awarded the Regional Emerging Artist Residency at Artspace. In September 2007, he was featured in Southwest Art's annual emerging artist issue, 21 Under 31. In spring of 2012 he will hold a solo exhibition at the Flanders Art Gallery.

On Apr. 20, 2011, from 5:30-6:30pm, André Leon Gray will give an artist talk. On May 11, 2011, from 12:30-1:30pm, Edie Carpenter will give a curator’s talk. On May 18, 2011, from 5:30-6:30pm, Shaun Richards will give an artist talk.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Center at 336/333-7460 or at (


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