Autumn Exhibitions Preview 2018

MoAD is proud to announce three upcoming exhibitions for our Autumn 2018 season, September 19-December 16, 2018. Ficre Ghebreyesus: City with a River Running Through will inhabit our Dignity Health Gallery with paintings on our second floor. Second Look, Twice: Selections from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation is the print collection to be featured in our Third Floor Gallery. And I Told You Who Am I will show the work of Shushan Tesfuzigta in our First Floor Gallery.

Ficre Ghebreyesus: City with a River Running Through

Museum of the African Diaspora presents the first museum showing and first west coast exhibition of the paintings of Eritrean American artist Ficre Ghebreyesus (1962-2012), who fled conflict in his country and made his way to the United States as a political refugee. City with a River Running Through brings together more than a dozen of his finest works, with a particular focus on Ghebreyesus’ abstractly rendered and vivid painted landscapes, replete with water imagery and aquatic life.

Visitors first encounter one of Ghebreyesus’ most impressive paintings and the exhibition’s namesake, City with a River Running Through upon entering the exhibition. This massive painting, divided into four panels, is over 18 feet long and is a cartographical tour-de-force, depicting, from multiple perspectives, a cityscape made up of an abstract patchwork of colors, patterns, and shapes.

Many of the paintings on display are abstracts, studies of geometric color that highlight the artist’s delight in the material qualities of acrylic paint on canvas. Other works are more figurative, seeming to hint at dreamlike fables: a Coptic angel swims with a school of fish; a nude woman stands in front of a bottle tree while a Yoruba rider and horse look on; a young man reads a book as he walks into a tangle of corals and seaweed. In all of these evocative, and often surreal, landscapes, the viewer senses a myriad of influences on Ghebreyesus’ work from the craft markets of Eritrea to the musical polyrhythms of the Black diaspora. This cultural layering speaks directly to the forces that shaped the artist’s life.

Along with his work on behalf of his country and its people after arriving in the United States, Ficre Ghebreyesus studied painting at the Art Students’ League and printmaking at the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, both in New York City. He later studied at Yale University, where he earned his MFA in 2002 and was awarded the Carol Schlossberg Prize for Excellence in Painting at graduation. Ghebreyesus made his life in New Haven for almost thirty years, where he lived with his wife Elizabeth Alexander and their sons Solomon and Simon. From 1992-2008, he was executive chef and co-owner with his brothers of the immensely popular Caffé Adulis that brought creative Eritrean cuisine to New Haven and New York City. In the last years of his life, he dedicated his work time solely to his art. He died unexpectedly in April 2012.

Ficre Ghebreyesus: City with a River Running Through is curated by MoAD Director of Exhibitions & Curatorial Affairs Emily Kuhlmann and Lowery Stokes Sims, Curator Emerita for the Museum of Arts and Design (2007-2015); former Executive Director, President, and Adjunct Curator for the permanent collection at The Studio Museum in Harlem (2000-2007); and former curatorial staff at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1972-1999). This exhibition is made possible at MoAD with thanks to support given through the Afropolitan Ball 2018, including Dignity Health, Concepción and Irwin Federman, FivePoint, Gilead Sciences, Pacific Gas and Electric, Target and Verizon.

Second Look, Twice

Selections from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation

Drawing from the vast collection of prints and multiples accumulated over a lifetime by Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation, Museum of the African Diaspora presents an original exhibition of the work of fifteen critically-acclaimed contemporary artists of African descent, including Glenn Ligon, Martin Puryear, and Kara Walker, who have used the medium of printmaking to create vivid and abstracted works. Reveling in the brilliance of gestural compositions, abstract form, and pure color, the works in the exhibition offer a rich look at the various ways in which many of these artists have employed printmaking as an exploratory means of dissemination and new possibility for formulation.
MoAD Director and CEO Linda Harrison notes,

“The exhibition Second Look, Twice is a perfect opportunity for MoAD to explore important collections such as Jordan’s through the lens of the African diaspora. It is thrilling to be able to present so many high-profile artists working here in printmaking—a popular medium—and to see them creating new and highly experimental works either directly under the late Bob Blackburn’s tutelage or in the studio he helped to establish.”

Second Look, Twice: Selections from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation is curated by MoAD Director of Exhibitions & Curatorial Affairs Emily Kuhlmann, MoAD Exhibitions Associate Soleil Summer, and independent curator Essence Harden. This exhibition is made possible at MoAD with thanks to support from the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, along with lead support given through the Afropolitan Ball 2018, including Dignity Health, Concepción and Irwin Federman, FivePoint, Gilead Sciences, Pacific Gas and Electric, Target, and Verizon.

I Told You Who Am I

Like other diaspora communities of this generation, interdisciplinary artist, Shushan Tesfuzigta, looks to complicate the monolithic understanding of her community. Through her work, Tesfuzigta co-creates a freer future grounded in common struggles while showcasing the everyday mundanities of the Eritrean identity.

I told you who am I.” reminds diasporas to dream of a world that acknowledges, centers, celebrates their experience. In bringing together two social practice artworks, Browa and the Halo Hafte Manifesto, this immersive experience expounds on the influence of diaspora on language and ever-changing culture. The ongoing list of archived words, phrases and sentences of the Browa series, exemplifies the performative aerobatics of language in global communities. Paired with the Halo Hafte Manifesto, the work articulates the ways in which one is able speak about their own experience without being in service of an enforced cultural narrative. Shushan Tezfuzigta, aptly demands the right to create and participate in worlds of her choosing, inviting us to do the same.

“I told you who am I simply by showing it.”

Through this text and image-based installation and the help of the many tongues of Shushan Tesfuzigta’s communities, “I told you who am I.” seeks to examine and legitimize the knowledge diaspora carries, during times when it is often silenced and overlooked.

Categories:  Exhibitions & Events