The Gonzaga University Urban Arts Center (GUUAC) is helping to elevate the voices of Black artists in their new multimedia exhibition “Home: Imagining the Irrevocable.”
The exhibition, curated by Tracy Poindexter-Canton and Olivia Evans, focuses on the sense of place felt by Black artists in the Inland Northwest. The show, which ended Saturday, Feb. 26, featured intersectional representations of home from a myriad of artists.
The show’s curators, Poindexter-Canton and Evans, are active artists in Spokane as well. Poindexter-Canton works in a variety of mediums and Evans specializes in film and photography. Their inspiration for the show came from a quote by the prolific Black author James Baldwin, who wrote that “perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.”
This is the first show curated by Ms. Evans for the GUUAC. She got involved in the project when her sister, a local ceramics artist, recommended her for the role.
“She sent them my resume..." Evans said. “I heard back on that and was like ‘oh, yeah, I’ll totally do this.’”
Much of Evans’ work, she said, focuses on where she finds peace and a sense of home, particularly by enjoying nature with her family.
Poindexter-Canton has some of her own work in the exhibition, including home videos of her family from the 1960s and 1970s, representative of her vision of home.
“So, what is that irrevocable condition?" Poindexter-Canton said in an interview with the Spokesman Review. "What does home mean, and what is the reality for home for those who come from descendants who are historically displaced, marginalized and othered?”
The exhibition engages artists from a multitude of different mediums, including digital photography, video, music, sculpture and even pieces of bread toasted different amounts to form a gradient. The theme of the exhibition also draws inspiration from writer Toni Morrison’s 2012 novel “Home.”
“It’s not just a location, it’s a feeling,” Evans said. “And being that all the artists aren’t just Black… we’re all mixed in some way, so it’s kind of like this evolving feeling. Home isn’t necessarily one culture or the other.”
The show’s curators began formulating the idea for the show in November. They began by compiling a list of Black artists in the community, and reached out to them in December. Those who were interested were included in the show, and the list was finalized in January.
“All of the pieces are unique in themselves,” Evans said.
The curators of the show want people to be aware of the Black artists in Spokane. While recognition hasn’t always been easy to come by, exhibitions like “Home: Imagining the Irrevocable” are integral to building the community.
“There are Black artists here and they are thriving in their own ways,” Evans said.
The exhibition is an important step towards the elevation of Black voices in Spokane. The artists featured in the exhibition are representative of those voices.
“A lot of Black artists feel a certain way about only being reached out to when it's Black History Month,” Evans said. “We were trying to find a way to make it more personal and intimate. So the theme really helped with that… it really hit home with them. It gave them recognition in a way that was more intimate. Focusing on the beauty of Black history… trying to focus on the heart.”