MENDING: Nancy Lunsford and JoAnne McFarland
February 15 – March 18, 2018
440 6th Avenue @ 9th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Hours: Thurs & Fri 4–7pm, Sat & Sun 11am – 7pm or by
“Mending” is an exquisitely beautiful and timely exhibit of works of art by Nancy Lunsford and JoAnne McFarland now up at 440 Gallery in Brooklyn. Occurring during Black History Month and Women’s History Month, and at a time when race relations and gender relations are, as usual and particularly, at the forefront of critical dialogue, this show adds perspective and insight as well as a meditative sense of sustainable hope to the conversation.
Nancy Lunsford renders delicate and powerful portraits of influential American women, skillfully burned into wood panels, or drawn in white chalk-like pencil on small slate school chalkboards. The images are of women such as Shirley Chisholm, Ida B. Wells, and the Grimké sisters, who have influenced the course of American history through actions and lives effecting the intertwined civil rights and women’s rights movements, from the days of slavery through those of the early feminists. These portraits capture each character’s personal essence, as Lunsford creates them with the loving and exacting eye of a natural portraitist.
Alongside these Lunsford has built a cairn of slate, with delicate drawings on several of the stacked pieces, of still-life objects of comfort and encouragement such as a blue and white floral teacup, and an aged, dark-skinned hand pointing the way forward.
JoAnne McFarland’s skillful and erotically charged “still-ed lives” are small oil-on-panel squares containing jewel-like images of subjects such as torn-open pomegranates, an artichoke sliced in half with its heart bared, or cut-open ripe figs resting against a lace cloth. Each also bears, as memorial, the pale-gray stenciled first or last name of a person whose vibrant life was cruelly and unjustly lost to racially discriminatory police brutality. Included, among others, are Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, and Amadou Diallo. The other half of each name is stenciled, in the same delicate color, on the wall by the painting, bleeding out the elegy into the atmosphere around the piece and beyond.
McFarland’s larger painting, A Woman of Color, on loose primed canvas, of a woman lying down as if on a beach, partially reveals a blue under-painting that makes the figure and her pose resonate with untold possibilities. There are two other pieces by McFarland; boxes of beaded, stenciled, embroidered and collaged cards: Reparations contains 13 “race cards”, Hot to Trot contains 14 “women cards”, all bearing poignant phrases. They are metaphorical “stacked decks”, laden with critical commentary on negative societal preconceptions.
This is a fabulous show, a lesson in American history, and on our ability to sustain love and hope, carried within objects of poetic vision and beauty, by two perceptive, experienced artists who have many stories to tell. Bring your classes, bring your selves, over to see this show!
February 19, 2018