Solace and Sisterhood
SMITH & MEYER GALLERIES, MAIN LEVEL
Featured artists: Lavett Ballard, Amber Robles-Gordon, and Evita Tezeno
Curated by Dr. Lauren Davidson
Is solace anywhere more comforting than in the arms of a sister? ― Alice Walker
Sisterhood connects through blood relations and friendship, develops through love and struggle and supports women in challenging times as well as celebration. However, for Black women, it goes beyond this. Sisterhood through the lens of the Black female experience is a deep and multifaceted relationship that challenges stereotypes and seeks to right wrongs. With the constant scrutiny of their choices and physical selves, and social opposition to their abilities and accomplishments, sisterhood for Black women becomes a necessity, a social enterprise, and a framework for survival.
Solace and Sisterhood brings together the work of three artists of African descent who are friends and “sisters”: Lavett Ballard, Amber Robles-Gordon, and Evita Tezeno. Through their artwork, viewers are given an intimate look into their experiences and their sisterhood, which has developed over several years. By digging deeply into historical and contemporary perspectives on African American life, exploring traditions in the African diasporic community, or remixing commonly known objects, these artists span media and aesthetics. They tackle topics of self-identity, Black female beauty, and spiritual discovery. They resist single affiliations and simple answers to difficult questions. All the while, they maintain deep bonds that now transcend friendship. They are now sisters.
Solace and Sisterhood Opening Reception and Artist Talk
Thursday / February 22 / 5pm-8pm
Artist talk, moderated by Dr. Lauren Davidson: 6pm
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
b. 1970, East Orange, NJ
Lives and works in Willingboro, NJ
Lavett Ballard’s work is in public and private collections, including the US Embassy in Kambala, Uganda, the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University, Stockton University Art Collection and the collections of ABC Studios, CBS Studios, and NBC/Universal Studios. Ballard created two commissioned covers for Time Magazine: one in March 2020 for the 100th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage and a second in February 2023 to accompany Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson’s essay about her book CASTE: Origins of our Discontent.
Lavett Ballard holds a BA in Studio Art and Art History from Rutgers University and an MFA from the University of the Arts, Philadelphia and is an adjunct professor at Rowan College of South Jersey. Ballard is represented by Galerie Myrtis in Baltimore.
b. 1977, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Lives and works in Washington, DC
Amber Robles-Gordon is an Afro-Latina interdisciplinary visual artist whose creations are visual representations of her hybridism: a fusion of her gender, ethnicity, cultural, and social experiences. Her assemblages, large sculptures, installations, and public artwork, emphasize the essentialness of spirituality and temporality within life.
Robles-Gordon’s work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions at the American University Museum (Washington, DC), Morton Fine Art (Washington, DC), Derek Eller Gallery (New York, NY), and the August Wilson African American Cultural Center (Pittsburgh, PA), among other venues, and in group exhibitions across the United States and internationally. She was a resident at the American Academy in Rome in 2019 and a semi-finalist for the Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize in 2022. She holds an MFA from Howard University and a BS from Trinity College.
b. 1960, Port Arthur, TX
Lives and works in Dallas, TX
Evita Tezeno’s collage paintings employ richly patterned hand-painted papers and found objects. They depict a cast of characters in harmonious scenes inspired by her family and friends, childhood memories in South Texas, personal dreams, and moments from her adult life and influenced by the great 20th century modernists Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, and William H. Johnson.
Tezeno’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Pérez Art Museum (Miami, FL), the Dallas Museum of Art, African American Museum of Dallas, Figge Art Museum (Davenport, IA) Embassy of the Republic of Madagascar; and Pizzuti Collection (Columbus, OH) among many others. She is the recipient of a 2023 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and, in 2012, the Elizabeth Catlett Award for the New Power Generation. She is represented by Luis de Jesus Los Angeles.
ABOUT THE CURATOR
Dr. Lauren Davidson is an independent art curator and founder of Museum Nectar Art Consultancy. Museum Nectar is a curatorial and art advisory service working primarily in the field of contemporary African American art with a focus on emerging and mid-career artists. Davidson uses this platform to investigate issues and initiate conversations about the Diasporic Black experience.
Past exhibitions include the critically reviewed The Ties That Bind and Zero Dollar Bill: The Prints of Imar Lyman at International Art and Artists (IA&A) at Hillyer in Washington, D.C and Bria Edwards: More Time in A Day at Eaton D.C