Exhibitions | Exhibitions To the South

Chelle Barbour: Juxtaposing Afro-Surrealism at Granary Arts

Feb. 7 – May 3

Reception: Friday, February 9, 2024, 6-8pm

Surrealism was a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and the word was re-contextualized in the 1970s by author Amiri Baraka, who coined the term Afro-Surrealism. He raised the notion that the experience of being black in America was a profoundly surreal experience that went beyond the average person’s imagination. Through the lens of Afro-Surrealism, artist Chelle Barbour’s collages examine societal fractures, tearing apart visual fragments of life to reimagine the sum of the whole. She reassembles these fragments to create a narrative that is other worldly – perceptually different and mythical.

Referencing Afro-Futurism, the African Diaspora, and Dadaism, Barbour’s collages juxtapose disparate photos to fit symbolically together, resulting in depictions of Black women who are confident and regal, and whose assuredness envelops the viewer. Layered in the images, the viewer can identify architectural and decorative elements, vintage newsprint, weapons, animal skins, and body parts taken from found photographs and books that form representational themes and metaphors.

This body of work is inspired by W.E.B. Dubois’ compilation of photographic images in the “American Negro” exhibit at the 1900 Paris Exposition. He organized 363 images into albums entitled “Types of American Negroes.” Respectively, Barbour’s collages feature 100 images divided into four volumes: young Black women of the African Diaspora, the vintage photographs from the “American Negro” exhibit, remarkable Black American women, and Black female authors. The female figures represent the complete archetype of a Black woman— unapologetically colorful and beyond objectification. These women epitomize queens, warriors, and heroines who portray their vulnerability, strength, resistance, and power.

Granary Arts
86 N Main Street
Ephraim, Utah 84627

(435) 283-3456

Wed – Sat / 11 am – 5 pm

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