American Art Collector
American Art Collector Magazine, June 2011
Stories that Breathe
by Joshua Rose
Stories that Breathe, the third ‘pop-up’ project curated by Morton Fine Art’s owner Amy Morton, brings together four African-American artists working in the contemporary figurative tradition. Artists Jules Arthur, Kesha Bruce, Mario Robinson, and Maya Freelon Asante create work that is “brought alive through the sharing of intimate personal narratives and stories that reflect the greater collective African-American experience.”
“The exceptional level of talent and creative vision in this exhibition is awe-inspiring and aligns perfectly with MFA’s mission of exposing museum-credentialed contemporary artists to new and established collectors,” says Morton.
Mario Robinson’s work is based on his early life in Oklahoma transposed with the experiences he had growing up in New Jersey after moving there with his family. His detailed, straightforward portrait-style works are typically of family and friends from his childhood in rural Oklahoma. The watercolor ‘Creeping Bull’ is a portrait of his father.
“My work is a celebration of the people and places that have shaped my life,” says Robinson. “In a fast-paced youth and celebrity-obsessed culture, my aim is to offer an alternative to the status quo. I find beauty in everyday people.”
Jules Arthur’s paintings focus on the human condition and the lives and personalities that come across through the daily struggles and successes of living a life. His work featuring sports stars includes portraits of Jack Johnson, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige and Allen Iverson. This is his first show in a gallery.
“This body of work takes on new meaning as the subjects within my work open up and breathe their stories to a new audience,” explains Arthur. “With stories from the heart of pain and pleasure, defeat and triumph, the pieces will hold engaging conversations with D.C. art enthusiasts.”
Kesha Bruce’s work is about storytelling as she sees this tradition as a person’s “road map for how to understand the past and the world around us.”
“Stories have the ability to transform us and to help us remember,” says Bruce. “I use maps, drawings, found documents and family photographs in my work. All these elements come together to create completely new narratives that resonate with the personal experiences that an individual viewer will bring to each image.”
Maya Freelon Asante’s work comments on the variety of social issues of the day through a combination of traditional and contemporary media.
“Paying homage to my ancestors, Tissue Ink Monoprints thaw frozen memories with the vibrant beauty of now,” says Asante.