‘They Become Ways of Telling Stories’: Watch Artist Kevin Beasley Make Thought-Provoking Works From Cast-Off Materials

0
8

For the Virginia-born artist Kevin Beasley, every object from a cast-off du-rag to a broken twig, is one component in a vast mosaic of art that tells a story both personal and universal. In fact, Beasley’s work includes both of those items, along with needles, resin, raw cotton, kaftans, and even a cotton gin itself. Beasley’s work is on view right now as part of a sprawling exhibition titled “Black Abstractions: From Then ‘Til Now,” featuring a multigenerational cohort of Black artists whose work defies easy categorization.

In an exclusive interview filmed as part of Art21’s series  back in 2019, Beasley recounts the origins of his first major solo show in New York at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The idea for a show centered on the cotton gin came to him as he drove through Valentines, Virginia for a family reunion, and was moved to anger at the sight of acres of cotton fields. “‘Why am I so mad at this plant?’ This plant is not doing anything other than growing and being beautiful” Beasley explains, and he knew “there’s a lot of unpacking that has to happen.”

Kevin Beasley, Untitled (Halo Rags) (2019). Photo: Chad Redmon. Courtesy of the artist and the Green Family Art Foundation.

For Beasley, cotton is not just a material, it is a theme that touches on politics, social relationships, and of course, economics and reparations. “It all just unfolds and is laid out,” he says. At his show at the Whitney, Beasley constructed a series of sculptural works, comprised of various materials, that he calls “slabs.” He says: “They become ways of telling stories.” In his works, Beasley takes control over not just a material, but the systemic repression of Black people and artists, to construct something new.

“Being a Black person in this current state, that’s what you’re encouraged to do—is to move on. Like, ‘Ok, there’s been time. There’s been space,’ right? It’s a false narrative. But it also is one that you feel the pressure from.”

 

 New York Close Up 

 

Art in the Twenty-First CenturyNew York Close UpExtended Play

More Trending Stories:

This Creepy 17th-Century Baby Portrait Was Found in the Home of an ‘Eccentric’ English 

Police Seized Hundreds of Paleolithic Tools, Roman Tiles, Bones, and Other Ancient Artifacts From Two Homes in Spain

London’s National Portrait Gallery Has Acquired a $3.6 Million Public Toilet. (They Must Have Been Feeling Flush)

An Extraordinary Bejewelled Crucifix Worn by Princess Diana Will Lead Sotheby’s ‘Royal and Noble’ Sale in London

8 Highly Specific Predictions for the Art Industry in 2023 (Including an Art-Fair Death Foretold)

Marilyn Minter’s Upcoming Series Reimagines Modern Feminist Icons From Lizzo to Monica Lewinsky as ‘21st-Century Odalisques’

The Man Who Allegedly Stabbed Two MoMA Staffers Has Been Extradited to New York and Charged With Assault

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here