Please create the following items based on the information that has been provided below:
- A press release announcing The Union’s launch of the Wanda D. Ewing Commission and Alexandria Smith’s exhibition
- Three social media posts promoting this exhibition
WANDA D. EWING COMMISSION
The annual Wanda D. Ewing Commission supports the production and presentation of new work by a woman artist of the African diaspora. Wanda Denise Ewing (1970–2013), the Omahan artist for whom this gallery is named, was influenced by folk-art aesthetics, craft traditions, and the limited depictions of Black women in Western art history and popular culture. Through her art, she celebrated Black bodies and explored the complex interplay of race, gender, and sexuality. The commission was established to carry forth Ewing’s legacy and to create a vital cultural opportunity for Greater Omaha, where narratives of Black female experience are too often absent from the arts discourse.
About Wanda D. Ewing
Wanda Denise Ewing (1970–2013) was a prolific artist whose work ranged from traditional print media to painting, sculpture, and fiber arts. She was influenced by folk-art aesthetics and the depiction—or lack thereof—of Black women in art history and popular culture. She often used humorous narratives as a device for engaging the viewer. A teacher, mentor, muse, role model, icon, and inspiration to many in Omaha, Wanda encompassed what The Union strives to instill in the artists we support through our programs: a passion for the arts, dedication to the creative process, and the unabashed tenacity to stand by the work they make. For these reasons and many more, The Union’s gallery is dedicated to Wanda’s memory.
Wanda had solo exhibitions at Pi Gallery, Kansas City, MO; University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE; Proyecto 'ACE International Center for Visual Arts, Buenos Aires, Argentina; University of West England Bristol, United Kingdom; Richard M. Ross Museum, Delaware, Ohio; and group exhibitions at Sheldon Memorial Art Museum, Lincoln, NE; Lightwell Gallery at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, CA; Lalit Kala Akademi Art Center, New Delhi, India; and RNG Gallery, Omaha, NE. She was a longtime member of the College Art Association, on whose Committee on Women in the Arts she served at the time of her death, as well as the Southern Graphics Council, where she was the International Board of Directors’ Secretary. Ewing was the recipient of residencies, grants, and honors from the Women’s Caucus for Art, The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Proyecto ‘ace, and the Nebraska Arts Council, among other accolades. She was also an excellent educator, beloved and respected by both colleagues and students at the University of Nebraska at Omaha for her rigorous curricula, no-nonsense critiques, and outreach to the regional arts community. Ewing joined the University faculty in 2004 and worked there until her death, when she succumbed to non-small cell lung cancer.
The multidisciplinary artist Alexandria Smith explores the transformative girlhood experiences that shape the women we become while illuminating the complexities of Black identity. Although her abstract tableaux have been interpreted as performances or aftermaths of violence, they actually represent bodies in flux: not-quite-adolescent girls beginning to develop senses of themselves as independent from the environments they inhabit. Collectively, they tell a mythical coming-of-age story that centers on the mental and emotional processes of self-discovery.
Common themes and influences in Smith’s artwork include Black girlhood, Black life and cultural traditions, art history, religious stories, poetry and mythology, gospel hymns, and jazz, hip-hop, and R&B music. Smith’s art is also inspired by different places that she and her family have called home: her birthplace in The Bronx, in New York City; the rural town of Council, North Carolina, where she spent her childhood summers; Westchester County, north of New York City, where she lived during her formative years; and the New York City borough of Brooklyn, where she resides part-time.
Smith is the first recipient of the annual Wanda D. Ewing Commission, which supports the production and presentation of new work by a woman artist of the African diaspora.
Exhibition run: January 14th through March 25th