Accidental Hijack: Engaging the Public with Art Experiences

Today we visited the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center.

As a nonprofit, they seek to engage the public by providing opportunities for “accidental hijacking” from the ordinary. The institution serves as a platform for the art; by providing a context, contemporary art is presented in a way that is accessible, but doesn’t feel kitch. Atlanta’s needs are reflected in the curatorial choices and opportunities for conversation are fostered though programing and exhibitions.This is one of my favorite galleries in Atlanta; in addition to free admission, this gallery has a really nice space. While it retains the “white-wall” feel of a bigger institution, its size allow audiences to engage with art in a more intimate setting. There is a good amount of work on display, yet not so much as to overwhelm the viewer. It is consumable, yet presents the opportunity to engage with deeper thoughts.The Contemporary exhibits a wide variety of up and coming artists; currently on view are the artists Sasha Brauning, Paul Anthony Smith, and Ja’Tovia M. Gary.

Brauning draws influence from horror movies and cinema to represent the figure. Line and color are prominent elements in the works and create tension. The figures are simultaneously relatable and discomforting due to the contrast of organic and mechanical structures.Smith creates a juxtaposition of Brooklyn and Jamaica in his photography, representing the duality of identity of place. Texture has been created on the surfaces of the images by hand and appears like cinderblocks at a distance. The hanging curtains pieces are reminiscent of the beaded curtains that serve as security in Jamaican homes without doors which allow air to circulate. An intruder would not see the curtain camouflaged in the dark and would awaken the home owners with the rattling of the beads. A fan has been set up in the gallery so that the beads move.

Gary’s film piece questions ideas of fact and fiction by combining archival footage with new stories.

While each artist focuses on different themes, a connecting thread ties them together. Surface is the unifying thought that unites the solo shows.


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