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New art exhibition focuses on Black abstractionists

SooVAC, short for Soo Visual Art Center, recently held its opening reception for “Take Root Among the Stars: Black Abstraction in the Midwest” at its Minneapolis gallery.

Curated by Gregory Rose, the exhibition consists of Black abstractionists' responses to the changes that have rocked the Midwest for the past two years, starting with the murder of George Floyd.

“Once George happened,” reflected Gregory, “especially here in Minneapolis, a lot of artists carried us through, and a lot of student artists through murals, activism, and in connection to BIPOC and especially native and LGBT communities. A lot of times we forget to take a different angle, and present ideas in different perspectives, in ways that folks can enter in on their own. And that for me, is always where art and especially black art has always been strong. It's because it's always been connected to the community from the beginning.”

Artists across the Midwest were invited to apply, creating a unique mix of perspectives and art. Carolyn Payne, SooVAC’s executive director, worked with Gregory to meet with individual applicants to better understand them as a person and an artist. For them, it was important that each chosen artist was supported and able to try something new for the exhibition, instead of just having one of their previously made pieces be displayed.

The title of the exhibition is inspired by author Octavia Butler's Earthseed Series. In it, a young Black woman builds a new community and religion after the collapse of society. Carolyn says the title emerged from her conversations with Gregory.

“He had talked about wanting to find who his people were in the sense of geography - Black abstract artists in the Midwest,” she said. “And Octavia Butler keeps coming up. And that is where the title came from. I just couldn't reread her enough.”

“Take Root Among the Stars: Black Abstraction in the Midwest” will run until July 31st.

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