Manifesting Inglewood’s Art Scene

The Creative House, a non-profit art space in Inglewood, celebrates African-American representation in art.

Spencer Petty
Mar 26, 2018 · 4 min read
A little girl sits on a man’s shoulders viewing the art exhibition opening. (Photo: Spencer Petty)

As people sauntered down Market Street in Inglewood on a lazy Saturday, a pair of red doors opened promptly at noon, revealing art-lined walls inside.

The Creative House, a non-profit art space in Inglewood, opened the “Manifest” art exhibit on Saturday, Feb. 24, celebrating African American representation in art. This exhibition is curated by Rasta Asaru and features four artists: Yrneh Gabon, Sunny Gravely, Malik Seneferu and Carlos Spivey.

The open white space exuded warmth as attendees and artists laughed and talked jovially together. One of the founders of the 2-year-old Creative House, Khnum Alexander, shared the vision for the exhibit.

“It’s about continuing the journey and continuing to manifest as we [the community] create art,” he said.

The Creative House’s mission is to provide historically art-starved communities in LA with better access to artists and their work.

“My brother and I saw the need and the void of creative spaces in Inglewood, so we decided to create that with the downtown corridor being the nucleus for art and culture,” Alexander said, referring to co-founder Asaru. “We pride ourselves as the epicenter for Inglewood’s downtown area.”

Sheena Caravaglia, a stained-glass artist and first-time visitor to the Creative House, discovered this “epicenter” through a friend. While she came to support a fellow artist and friend, Sunny Gravely, Caravaglia found additional joy in South Los Angeles artist Carlos Spivey’s pastel drawing called “Mentor.”

It depicts an older black woman affectionately holding and walking down a street with a younger black woman. The older woman grins ear to ear while looking at the younger woman who is smiling shyly the other way.

“When you look at it, it almost looks as if it was moving. It’s just fluid,” said Caravaglia.

Another featured artist, and University of Southern California art and design school graduate Yrneh Gabon also had moral supporters at the opening. Linda McShan, Gabon’s friend of 20 years, spoke of him like a proud mother. With her legs crossed and a pair of cowboy boots on, McShan spoke at length about her personal connection with Gabon’s work.

“I guess you could say I used to hold the nails for him and sneak in on him,” she said. “Artists do not like you to be around when they’re working, but I feel like I’m the midwife, like I birthed [the art].”

Gabon’s clay pots, glass cups with cork wood under with dragonflies imprinted on display. (Photo: Spencer Petty)

While Gabon’s featured art in this exhibition does not use nails, he does use natural and recycled resources like clay, cork wood and cardboard. His featured art focuses on nature, with a dragonfly motif in each piece. Dark drawings on the cardboard depicting 12 months of wildfires are contrasted by luminescent blue, green and purple dragonflies in each one. The dragonflies bring attention to the drought and communities that are endangering the ancient insect’s wetland ecosystem.

Gabon explains his installation to viewers. (Photo: Spencer Petty)

“I was always fascinated with the dragonfly as a child,” Gabon said. “There is a mystique behind the dragonfly. It has been around for about 350 million years. It was recently found in Antarctica. It navigates the many worlds and flies in different directions.”

Gabon’s friend McShan saw another side of the esteemed dragonfly. She relates it to an unseen element.

“He moves with the earth. The dragonfly is a very, very spiritual type thing, so [Gabon is] a spiritual type of person,” said McShan.

As visitors trickled in, they had the opportunity to chat with Gabon about the exhibit and his work. He explained the purpose behind every artistic decision he made.

“His mind is always for the people. His mind is always to tell a story. His mind is always to bring you in, to make you think, to make you see a different side and to really understand,” said McShan.

Gabon advocates for social change through his work.

“I’m a big advocate for community involvement, awareness and collaborating [in art] because it starts with the community first,” said Gabon.

The other three artists in the Creative House exhibit were advocating for social change as well. Their pieces worked to convey the beauty and trials of African Americans in the United States. After looking through the gallery, Caravaglia said the exhibit is important because the black experience is often overlooked in America’s mainstream media and art galleries.

“The African American community and people of color have been doing things in art and culture way before [the white community] has even acknowledged that,” she said.

The closing reception and artist talk where featured artists will share their vision is April 14th.

Attendees view Gabon’s drawings. (Photo: Spencer Petty)

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Spencer Petty

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