Adorned creates a dynamic conversation between the work of two artists who are pushing media and mindset to explore real issues of contemporary life. McColl Center alumnus artist Sharif Bey (2007) and artist Shanequa Gay find power in adornment—African-inspired masks, richly textured backgrounds, and large-scale clay and glass necklaces—to reclaim history, mark rites of passage, and explore contemporary life. The exhibition includes a site-specific installation by Gay, partially in response to the colossal and almost totemic glass and ceramic “adornments” created by Bey.
Adorned is curated by visiting curator Jonell Logan for McColl Center for Art + Innovation.
ABOUT THE EXHIBITING ARTISTS
McColl Center alumnus artist Sharif Bey (2007) is an associate professor of art at Syracuse University. Bey earned a BFA in ceramics from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, an MFA in studio art from the University of North Carolina, and a PhD in art education from Penn State University. He is a teaching artist with extensive experience in ceramics, sculpture, art community programming, and art teacher training. Bey continues to conduct workshops and facilitates collaborations in the visual arts for children and adults in schools, museums, arts centers, and universities throughout the United States and abroad. In addition to being an active teacher and scholar, he is a prolific studio artist who exhibits his ceramic works internationally. In 2010, the United States “Arts in the Embassies” program commissioned Bey to create one of his large-scale conceptual bead installations for the U.S. embassy in Khartoum, Sudan. Bey completed an additional project, in 2018, for the new U.S. embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Shanequa Gay’s work evaluates place, tradition, storytelling, and subject matter to develop imaginative dialogues and alternative strategies for self-imaging. Through installations, paintings, performance, video, and monumental sculptural figures, she is fabricating environments of ritual and memorial, depicting amalgamated images of familiar iconography, new gods, and mythical figures whose lives have been impacted by systemic inequalities. By developing counter and re-imagined narratives that live within the duality of physical and spiritual worlds, she is exploring the historical and contemporary social concerns of hybrid cultures, through the gaze of the female progenitor, and how these cultures have often been rendered invisible and their identities denied. Gay, an Atlanta native, received her AA in graphic design and fashion marketing from the Art Institute of Atlanta (1999), a BA in painting (summa cum laude, 2015) from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), and currently an MFA candidate at Georgia State University.
Image: Shanequa Gay, Healing Circle (Triptych), 2019. Mixed media on wood panel; 108 x 49 inches. Courtesy of the artist.