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my Presence is Present: interpretations of afrosurrealism from the American South

Image credits: Roscoe Hall, "Try Not Too, 2022," Courtesy of SOCO Gallery and the artist.

  • About This Exhibition

    my Presence is Present is an exhibition that navigates through surreal African-American experiences as told by 20 emerging and established contemporary artists in and around the Carolinas. Each participating artist purposefully creates work in response to our inherent memories and identities of growing up and living in the American South.

    "As curator of this exhibition, I asked local Charlotte artist DaRemen J. about the state of his current video works. His response, 'everything right now is about me being Black and just existing.' A rather surreal perspective when you think about it in a present-day context. Are we simply existing or continuing to create new spaces where we can still exist? If so, what do those brave new worlds look like and at what point do they become surreal, leading us on a journey to new visual interpretations of how we live and view our Black lives?"

    "If we define blackness as a living term constantly evolving and taking on new meanings across our various lived Black experiences, our present is now more surreal than ever. Since artists of color are constantly reacting to the socio-cultural politics of a post-colonial world, then it is time to look at how we interpret our present states of being. In certain cases, this could be interpreted as restoring cultures of the past, uncovering invisible worlds still struggling to exist and/or highlighting aspects of the mystical and metaphorical as it applies to blackness."

    - Carla Aaron-Lopez, Curator of my Presence is Present

    We are thrilled to present our second biennial of established and emerging Black artists in our region. Our inaugural biennial, Visual Vanguard, launched in the summer of 2021 during a critical time in our nation's history. As the importance of Black history is being challenged in certain sectors, the second biennial, my Presence is Present, carries the mantle of Black excellence and evolution in art and culture.

    This exhibition presents an opportunity for the Gantt to share the breadth of creativity in our region and to embrace the full power of the arts to engage the community. We believe the work of these artists will stand alongside the masters for years to come.

  • About The Curator

    Carla Aaron-Lopez is a photographer, print maker, and collagist. Ever defying expectation, Aaron-Lopez has also expanded her practice to include murals and painting. She is a deeply committed collaborator whose own work is frequently created with fellow artists at various stages of their careers. Aaron-Lopez has pioneered platforms for underground artists and built spaces that encourage experimentation in both Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Aaron-Lopez received her Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design from North Carolina Central University and her Master of Fine Art in Photography and Master of Printmaking from Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta. In addition to creating artwork, she is a beloved arts educator within Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Aaron-Lopez considers herself a "professional student of life" who believes we all have the ability to learn and create anything. She is also a member of Black arts collective and event space BLKMRKTCLT.

  • Exhibition Preview

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