By Claudia Rousseau, Ph.D
East City Art, Reviews
The gallery at Pyramid-Atlantic is hosting an exhibition of work by nine African-American women artists who participated in a collective project variously titled Project 2020 or 2020 Visions. Initiated by Aziza Claudia Gibson-Hunter in July 2020 she, along with Adjoa Burrowes and Gail Shaw-Clemons, brought together a total of nine participants, all of whom are well established in their careers as artists and artist-educators. Each was asked to conceive an artist’s book that would express her experiences through the difficult and tumultuous times through which we have lived over the past year and a half. Each of the books was to be conceived individually. However, as a collective project, the intent was that each book would make a rotation to all the women in the group so that each had about a month to add her part to each of the books. Given the pandemic, the fact that two of the artists were living in New York, and one book was lost in the mail along the way, accomplishing this was more complicated and even dangerous than it may sound. When all the books finally “came home” in April 2021 to their original creators, the women realized the analogy to a birth. Shaw-Clemons’ statement sums it up rather beautifully:
“All of the books came home full of powerful images in April of 2021. From the conception of the project in July 2020, through nine months of gestation, the completed books were ‘born’ and delivered to their artist mothers in April of 2021. Each book is a unique, profound, powerful testament to the events of 2020-2021. The books also bear witness to the organization, tenacity, and care it took for them to be completed. They are tangible evidence of the formidable force of sisterhood.”
As most of them the artists in the collective include printmaking in their practices, working on and with paper to physically make the books came naturally, but their variety of form is striking. Yet they are all characterized by patterning, bright coloration, a density of imagery and strong text, often handwritten.
NINE ARTISTS | NINE MONTHS | NINE PERSPECTIVES: Birth of 2020 Visions Through July 11 at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, 4318 Gallatin St., Hyattsville.