‘Diedrick Brackens: ark of bulrushes’ retells African American histories and connects American craft traditions through powerful woven art
For Immediate Release
Charlotte, North Carolina (June 23, 2022) — The Mint Museum is pleased to present Diedrick Brackens: ark of bulrushes, displaying large-scale textiles, handwoven basket boats, and performative photography by internationally recognized artist Diedrick Brackens. Originally curated by Lauren R. O’Connell for the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, The Mint Museum iteration installs the SMoCA exhibition alongside works from The Mint Museum’s collection of quilts and weavings, many of which are on view for the first time, and a survey of contemporary North Carolina weavers. ark of bulrushes will be on view July 16–December 11, 2022 at Mint Museum Randolph.
Brackens is best known for his weavings that explore narratives about queerness, masculinity, and the Black experience in the United States. His work incorporates elements of West-African weaving, American quilting, and European tapestry-making, as well as histories associated with craft.
In ark of bulrushes, colorful weavings are encoded with patterns, constellations, and Black figures to form a mythology that combines past stories about liberation, from the Bible to the Underground Railroad, with current narratives of freedom and remediation. Additionally, Brackens first basket boats consider how craft can activate narratives for self-deliverance.
“I really started to think about how I could employ baskets as a tool for self-liberation. For me the question was: Could you make a basket big enough to float away, and is this something that one could do in a clandestine manner or in plain sight? I want the baskets to make some of these myths feel possible, that these aren’t just stories we tell ourselves, but that there is possibility through making, through craft, to actualize these things,” Brackens says.
In the performative photography, Brackens brings the baskets back into nature. “It speaks to how folks have been dispossessed from nature. I think there is so much power in it and so much peace,” he says.
Brackens and O’Connell worked with the Mint’s Chief Curator and Curator of Contemporary Art Jen Sudul Edwards, PhD, and Senior Curator of Craft, Design, and Fashion Annie Carlano to expand the original SMoCA version with related objects from the Mint’s collection of quilts, weavings, and Native American baskets.
“The sensation of feeling lost and the yearning for guidance — physically, spiritually, emotionally, historically — is a state of existence humans have felt for as long as they have wandered the Earth, and Diedrick Brackens gives us an entirely new way to consider this experience through his poignant, potent imagery that Lauren O’Connell has assembled into this powerful constellation of works,” Sudul Edwards says.
Contemporary regional artists who have works in the exhibition, include Charlotte-based artists Renee Cloud, Katrina Sanchez, and Andrea Vail, along with Edwina Bringle of Penland, North Carolina, Andrea Donnelly of Richmond, Virginia, and Martha Clippinger of Durham, North Carolina.
Diedrick Brackens: ark of bulrushes is organized by Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) and curated by Lauren R. O’Connell, curator of contemporary art at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Support is provided by the S. Rex and Joan Lewis Foundation and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Learning & Engagement and Community Outreach programming for this exhibition is generously supported by Windgate Foundation.
The Mint Museum
Established in 1936 as North Carolina’s first art museum, The Mint Museum is a leading, innovative cultural institution and museum of international art and design. With two locations — Mint Museum Randolph in the heart of Eastover and Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts — the Mint boasts one of the largest collections in the Southeast and is committed to engaging and inspiring members of the global community.
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