Close Read is a group exhibition featuring newly commissioned artwork by Akea Brionne Brown, SHAN Wallace, and Savannah Wood, hosted at Baltimore's Connect + Collect gallery. The work will be visible nightly, sunset - 11pm, from August 27 - October 1, 2020. This exhibition marks the first time that artists have been explicitly invited to work with the AFRO American Newspapers’ archives. Following their individual interests, Brown, Wallace and Wood have produced new work inspired by their research. Brown dissects a pamphlet on urban renewal, redacting the language used to promote its cause to reveal its underlying negative effects. Wallace’s animated photo collages combine her own images with photos from the AFRO archives to celebrate nearly a century of Black women’s play and labor. Wood follows a genealogical trail, connecting the AFRO’s roots back to a former plantation (now a state park) in Montgomery County. The work produced for this show highlights different artistic approaches to archival inquiry, with Baltimore’s Black communities as a common thread. Close Read is produced by Savannah Wood and the AFRO American Newspapers. This project is supported by a grant from the Grit Fund, which is an initiative of Baltimore Arts Realty Corporation. Additional funding was provided by the Awesome Foundation and Afro Charities. Learn more at www.afrocharities.org
Close Read is produced by Savannah Wood and the AFRO American Newspapers. This project is supported by a grant from the Grit Fund, which is an initiative of Baltimore Arts Realty Corporation. Additional funding was provided by the Awesome Foundation and Afro Charities.
Akea Brionne Brown (b. 1996, New Orleans, LA)
Urban Renewal, 02:06, 2020, single channel video
Akea Brionne is a photographer, writer, curator, and researcher whose personal work investigates the implications of historical racial and social structures in relation to the development of contemporary black life and identity within America. With a particular focus on the ways in which history influences the contemporary cultural milieu of the American black middle class, she explores current political and social themes, as they relate to historical forms of oppression, discrimination, and segregation in American history.
Akea Brionne has received the Visual Task Force Award from the National Association of Black Journalists. Her work is also featured in the Smithsonian's Ralph Rinzler Collection and Archives, and was recently acquired by the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art Collection. She was announced the 2018 Winner for Duke University’s Center for Documentary Arts Collection Award, as the 2018 Documentarian of Color. Her series, Black Picket Fences, was acquired for their permanent collection, and is on preserve at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. She was nominated for PDN's 30 (Photo District News) 2018: New and Emerging Photographers to Watch. Brown was recently named the 2019 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize Winner, juried by Laylah Ali, William Powhida, and Regina Basha.
Akea received her BFA (2018) from the Maryland Institute College of Art, in the dual degree program of Photography and Humanities. She is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana and is currently based in Baltimore, Maryland.
SHAN Wallace (b. 1991, Baltimore, MD)
Revival, 00:33, 2020, single channel video
Westbound, 00:38, 2020, single channel video
Afrodaddy, 00:27, 2020, single channel video
The Old Mt Hatten, 00:16, 2020, single channel video
SHAN Wallace is a nomadic award-winning photographer, visual artist, and educator from East Baltimore, MD.
Inspired by the harsh racial, social and economic realities of her surroundings in Baltimore, SHAN learned about the importance of service, the power of collaboration and the effects of social change at an early age. Now, she uses her lens, collage and in situ installations as the basis of her work, demonstrating the cultural and political narratives of black life, confronting oppressive politics and histories within communities of the African diaspora, and challenging ideas surrounding existing collections, culture and archives of Blackness.
SHAN has received recognition from publications like the Baltimore Beat for 'Best Solo Show', the City Paper for 'Best Photographer', and the Association of Health Care Journalists awarded her '2nd Place - Small Outlet Feature' for her photojournalism piece “Losing Conner’s Mind” in the Atavist Magazine. Her work has received widespread support from publications like The Charlotte Observer and The New York Times.
SHAN lives and works in many spaces between Los Angeles, CA and Baltimore, MD.
Savannah Wood (b. 1988, Berkeley, CA)
Hard to Get and Dear Paid For (projection cut), 04:13, 2020, single channel video
Savannah Wood is an artist and cultural producer with deep roots in Baltimore and Los Angeles. Using photography, collage and sculpture, she uncovers obscured histories, taps into ancestral magic and disrupts linear readings of time. Recent group exhibitions include Tell Me a Story And I’ll Sing You a Song, curated by Bianca Moran at Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles, and Our Deep Waters: A Collective Body, curated by Maria Maea at Residency art gallery in Inglewood.
As a cultural producer, Savannah has lived between Baltimore, Chicago and Los Angeles, working in nascent and world-renowned archives; facilitating the creation of large-scale public artworks; curating exhibitions; hosting a podcast; and communicating complex ideas to diverse audiences.
Savannah is a 2019/2020 Robert W. Deutsch Foundation fellow, director of the AFRO American Newspapers’ archives, director of Afro Charities, and a 2020 Sondheim Prize semifinalist.