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Rising and Shining with Peerspace x URBNFRESH

Laurent Chevalier, Righteous Indignation

A line down the block created a sense of frenzied anticipation upon arrival at the exhibition venue, hosted at one of the many Peerspace locations around the city. In collaboration with URBNFRESH and Minorities in Media Connect, and bolstered by the artists’ combined social media followings of over 110K followers, this pop-up exhibition drew in a huge viewing audience of millennials who all turned out in support of an exhibition of works highlighting the talents of young artists of color and the promotion of the black image in art. This particular group of photographers activated different Peerspace locations to their liking and created photo-based works to accompany that experience; each telling their own unique story in the process.

One of the first set of works encountered when entering the space was that of film photographer Laurent Chevalier. His black and white images subtly evoke a sense of contention; an out-of-focus American flag is the backdrop against a main character of color, who is shown in various poses that conspicuously draw upon socio-cultural histories of American society.

Jarrod Anderson, No Name

Similarly anchoring their works in concept, Mark Clennon and Imani Dennison each tell the stories of companionship through the portrayal of black love. In an intimate look, Clennon’s images channel an assumed angst or discord surrounding the perils of a relationship, through a delicate use of visual effects.

In a different approach, the photographs of Jarrod Anderson provide commentary on the ideals of fashion photography and create a connecting thread with the fashion focused aesthetics of Travis Matthews, who projects a sense of feminine connectivity through his use of sentimental poses that speak to the idea of sisterhood. A slight variation on the theme of sisterhood is evident in Daniel T. Randall’s images, which bring self-care to the forefront as he creates a dynamic of comfort and oneness between his two subjects. Mark Aghatise hones in on the experience of sisterhood when activating his specific Peerspace location through playful imagery that promotes a feeling of togetherness.

Mark Aghatise, Untitled

Furthering the somewhat unofficial theme of introspection and womanhood, Lauren Cowart’s images present a main subject against a highly saturated background. Relying on a strong use of color and light, her subject appears to transcend the image itself, creating a striking visual with the model’s dark skin tone that glorifies the beauty in self confidence. Comparably, the solitary subjects in Dee Williams’ images are presented as lead characters in their own saga’s of black womanhood. Their empowered posing, paired with the angles at which they were shot, show ownership and control, not only of themselves but of their own personal histories.

Dee Williams, Beauty in Black

Elizabeth Wirja takes this notion of feminine power in a different direction by hinting at the dynamics of hyper masculinity versus femininity in relation to communities of color; presenting works with pairs of both men and women as a means to express these complexities.

While each of the artists featured in Peerspace's Rising exhibition produced a uniquely specific set of works at their Peerspace location, they also shined a light on and responded to various socio-cultural aspects of today’s society, as rising artists of color.

Photos courtesy Peerspace

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