Phoebe Beasley: MIGRATIONS in Our Mind’s Eye
Mar 6 — Apr 24, 2021
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Phoebe Beasley’s eye has never failed her, has never lied to her, and her art generously gives us beauty, information and always the truth.
Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present our first solo exhibition with celebrated Los Angeles based artist Phoebe Beasley. Working primarily in collage, Beasley’s work is celebratory in nature, rejoicing in the persistency of hope underlying the human spirit. While the characters of Beasley’s images are ordinary people in everyday situations, their narratives delve deep into American experiences, in the case of this exhibition the Great Migration.
Migration is about the longing for a more peaceful and prosperous existence, a longing so strong that we are propelled to leave a job, a lover, a family, and even our old selves behind in the wind. Whether it was leaving the South for a better life up North or out West during the years of the Great Migration, from the early 1900’s to the 1970’s (as my grandparents did with my father at three months old), in the mind’s eye of those travelers the unknown was a great improvement to their present circumstances. The artwork From South by North to West (2018) captures their mindsets, vacillating from chaotic to steely focused, wondering how best to proceed, while Silver Linings of Hope (2019) encapsulates the longing of hearts still yet to be fulfilled, with a plan at hand.
History has, however, revealed a more challenging account of the many courageous sacrifices of my grandparents and so many others as they laid the foundation for generations yet to be born to achieve success.
Phoebe Beasley is the only artist to twice receive the official Presidential Seal on her artwork, once in 1989 by President George Bush and again in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Beasley earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Ohio University. Later, she moved to Los Angeles, where she has resided for several decades. Beasley’s work is in the collections of Oprah Winfrey; Clarence and Jacqueline Avant; Anita Baker; Keenan Ivory Wayans; LaTanya Richardson and Samuel L. Jackson; the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York City; the Gillette Company; and the California African American Museum, among others. Her work has been shown in numerous museum exhibitions nationally and abroad.