Photography, watercolor paintings, and tapestries exploring womanhood and embodying the self cover the walls of Detroit’s Norwest Gallery of Art. They’re a part of the gallery’s latest exhibit, Allium, which features work by seven female BIPOC artists.
Detroit photographer Bre’Ann White’s large-scale print of a dark-skinned Black man dancing in a field sits across from watercolor cutouts of painter Miranda Kyle carrying her head in a bucket of lemons as a smiley face balloon sits where her head should be. Elsewhere Navjeet Kaur’s hand-dyed textiles with intricate embroidery hang from the ceiling.
Visitors may recognize White’s work from The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion at the Detroit Institute of Arts. In addition to being featured, she also helped curate the exhibit’s section on Detroit photographers.
Allium is an introduction to the seven Artists in Residence of Womxnhouse, a house in Detroit’s Crary/St. Marys neighborhood that gets turned inside out with installations. During the six-month residency, artists will use the house, which is actually gallery owner Asia Hamilton’s childhood home, as a studio space and the installations will open to the public in the fall.
It’s also an incubator of opportunity for the artists, providing them with a stipend, housing, and professional development opportunities. Hamilton started Womxnhouse last year as a way to mentor other women and artists of color, offering space for their creative expression to thrive.
“We need that and we definitely needed it when I was coming along,” she says. “Things are a bit better now but there’s still not enough representation for us in the art world. So while they’re getting better, I thought, let me add to that representation with this project.”
Last year’s round of installations saw one room of the house completely transformed into a red, pulsating womb while the bathroom was turned into an herbal apothecary. This is the first year the house is being used as a residency for artists who will be creating the installations.
“The artists who were chosen are just dynamic altogether,” Hamilton says. “They had a strong sense of what they wanted to convey in their work and it all has a very personal aspect to it. On top of that, the aesthetic of their work, craftsmanship, and presentation is amazing.”
The range of medium and skills exhibited in Allium ensures gallery-goers have something interesting to look at with every turn. And if it’s a preview of what’s to come in this year’s season of Womxnhouse installations, visitors are in for a treat.
“The work in [Allium] is work that they had already created and pulled out of their own collections, but from seeing this, I’m excited to see what they’re gonna do in the house,” Hamilton says.
Norwest Gallery of Art is located at 19556 Grand River Ave in Detroit and Allium will be on display until the end of May. For more information, see womxnhousedet.com.
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