Try a little tenderness \\ alexandria smith
Alexandria Smith explores the transformative girlhood experiences that shape the women we become as she illuminates the complexities of Black identity. Try a Little Tenderness presents Smith’s new and recent paintings in which she obsessively deconstructs images of the female body. Legs, hands, and pigtails, for instance, become characters and landscapes—a topography of the artist’s psyche. 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.
Ms. Smith is the first recipient of the Wanda D. Ewing Commission. The annual initiative supports the production and presentation of new work by a woman artist of the African diaspora.
Try a Little Tenderness runs from January 14th through March 25th. Ms. Smith will be in Omaha for its debut on the 14th during our grand opening events. Admission is free and open to the public.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Alexandria Smith (b. 1981, Bronx, NY) earned her BFA in Illustration from Syracuse University, MA in Art Education from New York University, and MFA in Painting and Drawing from Parsons The New School for Design in 2010. Smith is the recipient of numerous awards and residencies including, most recently, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Virginia A. Myers Fellowship at the University of Iowa, A.I.R. Gallery Fellowship, the Fountainhead Residency and the Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship for 2013/14 and 2014/15. Her recent exhibitions in New York include a solo exhibit at Scaramouche Gallery, group exhibitions at The Schomburg Center, Thierry Goldberg Gallery and Rush Arts Gallery. Recently, she has been featured in the Huffington Post articles: “Alexandria Smith's Adorably Grotesque Cartoons Explore What Little Girls Are Made Of”, “Black Artists: 30 Contemporary Artmakers You Should Know Under 40” and “10 Female Artists To Watch in 2013”. Smith lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Born in Bronx, New York and currently residing in Brooklyn, Alexandria Smith’s art incorporates her comingof-age experience with that of cultural phenomena and commentary. Her style features hand painting and collage that immerses subjects in a color-filled narrative. A multidisciplinary artist, Smith draws from memory, history, and autobiography for her complex retelling of girlhood and Black identity. Utilizing the perspective of an adolescent, one who is no longer a child but not quite an adult, Smith illustrates her understanding of dynamic emotion, bodily change, and self-discovery, converging the experiences into an aesthetic that mirrors disorienting life traumas.
>> More at http://alexandriasmith.com
The 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 of 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.
Paul and Annette Smith
Wanda D. Ewing Gallery
The Wanda D. Ewing Gallery is dedicated to the Omaha artist, educator, and founding Union for Contemporary Art partner who passed away in 2013. Ewing’s work ranged from traditional print media to painting, sculpture, and fiber arts, and was influenced by folk-art aesthetics and the depiction—and lack thereof—of African-American women in popular culture and the canon of art history. Throughout her career, she represented the connections between autobiography, community, and history, often with a biting, comical edge.
Born and raised in Omaha and educated around the United States, both the artist and her work traveled around the globe: she felt strongly about the fact that where one has been in the past—literally and figuratively—affects how one proceeds in the future. This often led her to historical representations of women in popular and folk expressions, such as pin-ups, beauty advertisements, “Mammy” dolls, and “exotic” figurines, all of which promote sometimes powerful, sometimes problematic ideals of womanhood into which she often projected herself. In sometimes-humorous, sometimes-serious appropriations of works by white, male artists from Western art history she similarly, meaningfully recast the figures in ethnic and gendered configurations that require viewers to rethink the originals. In so doing, Ewing encouraged dialogue around questions of who is allowed to make, see, and be seen in visual culture, and whether the arts look like the communities we live in, challenging her audiences to believe in the transformative power of art to conjure images where people might be themselves wherever they can see themselves.