A Foothold on the Rocks: The Indelible Legacies of Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence
February 3 - 27, 2016
Tania L. Balan-Gaubert
David Vades Joseph
Equity Gallery, 245 Broome Street, New York, NY 10002
Opening Reception: Wednesday, February 3, 6-8pm
Gallery Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 11am-6pm, and by appointment
New York, New York, January 13, 2016 – In celebration of Black History Month, Equity Gallery and Harlem Arts Festival are pleased to announce A Foothold on the Rocks: The Indelible Legacies of Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence, a group exhibition of new work that reflects the enduring artistic contributions of Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence. The exhibition features paintings, prints, textile, sculpture and film.
Artists Equity was founded in 1947 by over 160 leading American artists to promote opportunities for visual artists and to address business and economic issues affecting them. The Lawrences were active members of Artists Equity from the beginning and Jacob Lawrence served as President of the organization in the 1950s. Equity Gallery, Artists Equity’s non-profit art space on the Lower East Side, was made possible through a gift by the Lawrences.
Harlem Arts Festival was founded in 2010 by three young arts entrepreneurs to showcase Harlem-based and affiliated artists and present their work to the community during a free uptown festival. In the last five years, programming has expanded to include year-round events, partnerships and co-presentations with organizations such as Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Young Patrons of Lincoln Center and Revive Music.
Throughout the 20th century, Harlem has been regarded as the symbolic mecca for Black American artistic production, culture and activism. Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence are two icons whose work holds an important space in the landscape of Harlem artists, and whose philanthropy gave rise to many more. Raised in Harlem, Jacob Lawrence’s early work documents scenes of Harlem life – people, storefronts, brownstones and more. Early paintings also depict his immediate surroundings, including his family, home and studio. Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence was born in Barbados and moved to Harlem in her youth. She studied Fine Arts and worked for the Works Projects Administration (WPA), assisting in various artists’ projects, including Charles Alston’s mural in the Children’s Ward of Harlem Hospital. She is known for her vibrant figure compositions and portraits.
Today, Harlem is internationally known as a cultural hub in part because of widespread nostalgia for its past. Contemporary artists continue to engage with and document Harlem’s complex living legacy. In celebration of Black History Month, this collaboration between two arts non-profit organizations aims to highlight the lasting contributions of the Lawrences to the arts and the Harlem community.
A Foothold on the Rocks presents original works from artists engaging with the Lawrences’ memory and aesthetic. In keeping with the Lawrences’ influence, Tania L. Balan-Gaubert, Tiffany Latrice and Christian Padron explore the use of narrative to document and preserve historical memory, celebrate identity and engage with cultural representation. Danielle Friedman, Freida Hoyett, Lance Johnson and Bryce Zackery investigate figuration, graphic forms, subjective perspective and critical realism, important aspects of the Lawrences’ works. Shannon Berry and David Vades Joseph explore gentrification, space and community in Harlem and the Lower East Side.
About Artists Equity
New York Artists Equity Association, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1947 by artists and art patrons with the mission to promote opportunities for artists. It operates Equity Gallery, an art space located on the Lower East Side of New York City. For more information, please visit www.nyartistsequity.org.
About Harlem Arts Festival
Harlem Arts Festival is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization co-founded in 2010 by three young arts entrepreneurs living in Harlem. Now in its fifth season, HAF presents multi-disciplinary performances in venues throughout Harlem, culminating in an annual festival that takes place in Marcus Garvey Park at the Richard Rodgers amphitheater. The performances showcase local performers and visual artists that inspire and nourish the artistic community in Harlem. The festival aims to promote arts education and literacy by implementing arts-related discussion forums, educational workshops, performance opportunities and activities for youth and family. The goal of HAF is to fuel the cultural and artistic prosperity of its neighborhood. For more information, please visit www.harlemartsfestival.com.
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Image: Bryce Zackery, America III, 2015, Building materials, old wood, railroad spikes, car parts and other detritus © Bryce Zackery.