Exhibition: A Small Needful Fact ( after a poem by Ross Gay)
Assembly Room + Artfare
July 7 - July 26, 2020
Dividing Lines: Phoenix I, oil stick, acrylic, ink on paper, 9x11in, 2020
A Small Needful Fact
Featuring works by Mildred Beltre, Karen J. Revis, Margaret Roleke, Glendalys Medina, Ronald Hall,
Azikiwe Mohammed, Alicja Gaskon, Lola Flash, Krystyna Printup, Kelly Popoff and Ivan Rios Fetchko.
With all the pain and anger currently surfacing in the US and spreading across the world, we are at a moment of historic accountability. Gay’s poem “A Small Needful Fact” relates to the subject of Eric Garner’s death by the New York City police. By sharing with the reader that Garner worked for some time in the Horticultural Department at Parks and Recreation -a small and necessary fact- the poet opens us up to the possibility “perhaps, that with his very large hands, perhaps, in all likelihood, he put gently into the earth some plants” which grow, provide shelter, beautify, convert sunlight, and make it “easier for us to breathe.” Gay’s poem both questions our knowledge of real world facts and leads us to imagine other possibilities.
Artists, while isolated from their families and communities, are bringing the historical past into a conversation with the present as they address daily occurrences of social injustice that come as consequences of past divisions. They demonstrate with potency and poignancy how art can guide us out of our confusion, anger and grief. Their modes of assemblage, activism, and representation are ancestral and innovative; from photography to sculpture to painting to mixed media art, respond to problems of personal and national identity, anti imperial struggles, and bring to light abuses of power and privilege. Their bold freedom expands our imagination of what the future of America can be.
A Small Needful Fact (Ross Gay):
Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
perhaps, in all likelihood,
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue to grow, continue
to do what such plants do, like house
and feed small and necessary creatures,
like being pleasant to touch and smell,
like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.
Ross Gay is the author of Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kingsley Tufts Award.