Futura Noir

Monday, February 11th: Opening

Tuesday, February 27th: Closing Celebration (panel, performance, and film screening)

Thematic conception

Originating from a desire to celebrate Black creativity in a dynamic, timeless, and contemporary vantage point — Futura Noir was incepted in the spring of 2015. Reflecting on the ways Black History Month manifested itself in the month prior — Michael Tonge, the show’s curator, decided February 2016 would be different.

Most of the month’s acknowledgements seemed rigid and focused on key figures who drove change during the civil rights movements. But in order to shift the perspective of people today, it is also important to celebrate the artists, educators, and activists, who are making history every day, shaping the future of what it means to be a black creative.

Futura Noir is a curated series of artwork and events that embodies the rich yet dark history, resistance, and future of black existence.The name is a meld of Spanish and French as a nod to the global impact and influences of Black culture. Additionally, the title serves as a pun via its loose translation to “dark future.” Visually themed in three stanzas, roots, resistance, and revelation, aesthetically bring viewers from the motherland, to tomorrow.

Roots: Embodies the once prominent place of Blacks in history, uprooting of our people. Visually exploring the journey, the lingering pain and that came with it.

Resistance: The aim of this segment is to prominently capture the struggle and resistance. Inspired heavily by the 1960’s, but also the current struggle. There is something to be said about a climate that still needs rallying cries like #BlackLivesMatter.

Revelation: Rounding out the exhibition, these works will bring the experience full circle to our once prominent place in civilization. Ultimately empowered by a creative awakening.

Daniel Hibbert:

Brooklyn-based artist Daniel Hibbert was born into a musical family in Lansing, MI, which provided the artistic foundation with which he creates today. In a synesthetic moment of inspiration, the artist converts otherwise abstract concepts and ideas into visual montages of color, texture, and imagery.
 
Originally trained as an engineer, this equally analytical and creative mind expresses itself by deconstructing sources of inspiration into thoughtful visual representations much like a problem statement. Hibbert uses music, art, literature, and society as his muses, carefully and uniquely re-imagining them and artfully weaving in his own perspective and voice. A student of the arts, he draws visual inspiration from Pop-Art, Cubism, Expressionism, jazz, rock, hip-hop, and classical music. His work includes a variety of media including acrylic, oil, spray paint, found items, and industrial materials.

“The Pendulum” — is a representational piece dealing with the concept of balance and oscillatory nature of culture and society. In perpetual motion, culture swings from one extreme to the other. With every advancement, there is a gravitational force which pulls it in the opposite direction, hoping to restore its distance from “equilibrium” but always seemingly overcompensating for the previous movement. The left cannot exist without the right; up cannot exist without down. For every Malcolm there is a Martin; for every Booker T there is a W.E.B; for every Frederick Douglass there is a Nat Turner; for every Fresh Prince there is a Tupac.

“Unforgivable Blackness: The Great Black Hope” — is inspired by the legacy of Jack Johnson, the first black world heavyweight boxing champion (1908–1915). Johnson was one of the most dominant champions of his ,me while unapologetically breaking down racial barriers. He remains a significant historical figure in boxing history with his 1910 fight against James J. Jeffries
then dubbed as “the fight of the century.” Johnson was flashy, wealthy, talented, and arrogant. He exclusively dated and married multiple white women during the height of the Jim Crow Era and had a hobby of collecting fast sports cars. Prior to his emergence on the world stage, white boxers and spectators asserted that black athletes were not as talented, skilled or smart as white fighters. Johnson eliminated the stereotypes about black boxers one-
by-one with each punch he threw to knock out his opponents. White boxing fans were constantly in search of a “great white hope” who could defeat the
quick and powerful Jack Johnson.

Imani Shanklin Roberts:

Featuring works from her debut solo exhibition, “An Ode to Her” and “StillMiseducated”, Imani’s photorealistic oil paintings “Full Bellied Laughter”, “Multiplicity”, “Superstar”, and “Rebel” evoke a range of emotions.

The two images from the “Full Bellied Laughter” showcase the power of joy, particularly black joy from the perspective a woman. A group so often oppressed by systems of patriarchy, racism, and even feminism in some regard, the act of smiling can be a form of activism in itself.

The other two works, “Rebel” and “Superstar” are from a series that was created with inputs from a listening sessions (as described in the video above). About a dozen individuals documented the themes they found in the “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”. Almost 20 years later, with a realist approach, Roberts layers materials within striking large-scale portraits that reimagines Hill’s narratives surrounding pregnancy, the highs and lows of romantic relationships, how love is defined within popular culture and how society digests these meanings.

Photo credit: Mikia Muhammad

Imani Shanklin Roberts is a Washington, DC native currently based in New York. Roberts earned a BFA/MS in Art Education upon graduating from Pratt Institute in 2014. As an artist and enthused educator who peels apart topics on race, gender, and identity, she seeks to create and facilitate socially responsive work that encourages ideas of self-realized liberation.

Using the traditional mediums of oil paint on canvas, she has entered the arts realm once dominated by a ruling minority to express the language of the oppressed and unheard. She draws inspiration from African American artists that have visually explored identity using figures and identifiable color choices in her work to reflect how she experiences the world. (Artist statement)

Patrick Eugene:

“Broken Ladders” is a commentary on the struggles of a young black man trying to make it to the top. Broken rungs, and toppling ladders, no matter how high you climb there are always extraneous forces making it difficult to gain and keep your footing.

An emerging force in abstract expressionism, Haitian American painter, Patrick Eugène (b. 1984) challenges the social, cultural and societal expectations placed on and held by his contemporaries. Eugène’s work has been featured amongst the most promising new pioneers in contemporary art, garnering the praise of both critics and esteemed collectors.

Eugène’s work challenges the truncated nature of popular culture. His canvases are rich in color and emotion. His work encourages the viewer to reconsider the urge to abbreviate and to instead dig deeper. Eugene is determined to peel back the complicated, but often-condensed, layers of the issues facing his generation today. The deeply layered composition, vibrant color, and rich texture of his paintings all reflect the multilayered subtext of these issues. Capturing the complex joys, anxieties and confusion of coming of age in New York City, Eugène’s work harkens back to a time before emotions were most often abbreviated into social media’s hashtags and brief status updates.

Michael McIntosh:

Michael John McIntosh is a fine artist/ motion designer/director with a focus in watercolor painting. Concepts of spirituality & world culture are both illuminated & made contemporary via his “pop-surrealism” style. A whimsical world, devoid of a sense of gravity is rendered through the use of vibrant colors & figures that are constantly in motion.

Along with a separate style of boldly colored watercolor abstract paintings, the ultimate aim of Michael’s work is a soft re-education of spirituality & the universe in an effort to manifest large & positive change & healing on earth. Michael attended The School of Visual Arts in New York City, where he lives & works as a motion designer.

#FuturaNoir