by Doran Hickey
At the Trout Museum of Art, Tyanna J. Buie asks us what diversity and inclusion are through an ambitious exhibition titled "Unraveled. Restructured. Revealed.: Where Contemporary Art and Diverse Perspectives Intersect".
I virtually toured this exhibition one April night at my home here in Atlanta. I'm from Atlanta and identify as a biracial cis man who was parented by a fiercely courageous cis lesbian. I was asked to review this show by a dear friend from Appleton, Chloé Allyn, who understands my odd disposition and whose own indigenous identity has granted her unique perspectives as a Wisconsin local, and as a Midwesterner.
Much like the show’s guest curator, Tyanna, I have moved quite a bit in youth and adulthood. Through that change of scenery, I quickly understood that being of the African diaspora in one place and eventually becoming a curator in another aren't mutually exclusive or partial to success, nor are they factors that contribute to a monolithic viewpoint. But I can assure you that while touring this space virtually, I felt like they were absolutely beneficial factors supporting each other when viewing (and ultimately when choosing) works of art. By that I mean that this background of being statistically and systemically overlooked by a number of institutions yields a viewpoint that is harmoniously unadulterated and not suffocated by a lack of depth or fear of exploring uncomfortable topics. Our livelihood has been unsettling to those who have knowingly or unknowingly wished us harm. What's great about this exhibition is that it keeps pressure on that wound, so to speak. While this exhibition does include antiquated icons and instances of what most would consider age old heralds of an ongoing civil rights movement, it doesn't pander to thoughtlessness and show too much affection towards the historical separation or commercialization of that era. We don't feel like we're being misguided by our grandparent's heroes. I'm glad I didn't only see depictions of Thurgood Marshall or W. E. B. Du Bois or Harriet Tubman in this exhibition. Some of the familiar faces were there. Some birds were there. Some Impressionist odes to scenic views that I'm having trouble placing are there. By in large though, I saw current artists celebrating their methods, their people. There's very little, if any, exploitative or discouraging depictions of people from the African diaspora or any other historic group of people who have been trapped in the undertow of generational trauma. You don't see Indigenous people shown in states of distress. What you do see is joy and celebration on a collegiate platform. The methods of subversion and codeswitching that have and will survive make a statement as well. We know if we know. That's inclusion. Works that specifically stood out to me were accomplished by Qualeasha Wood, Ebitenyefa Baralaye, Deja Milany, Roger Allen Cleaves, Chanel Matsunami Govreau, Feather Chiaverini, Steve Prince and Donté K. Hayes.
The exhibition "Unraveled. Restructured. Revealed: Where Contemporary Art and Diverse Perspectives Intersect" was guest curated by artist Tyanna J. Buie and is installed at the Trout Museum of Art 111 W. College Ave., Appleton, Wisconsin. The exhibition is on view from Feb 26th–May 23rd, 2021. It is also viewable online.