Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art debuts ‘PROJECT SPACE’ with new works by Diedrick Brackens featuring "textiles with ideas of agency to advance change," Feb. 6 – Aug. 22, 2021.
A discussion between artist Brackens and curator Lauren R. O’Connell in 2017 about depicting black bodies in his abstract tapestries evolved into showcasing his work at SMoCA, according to a press release.
“Ark of Bulrushes” is the inaugural show in the museum’s new initiative “PROJECT SPACE” and the debut exhibit shows Mr. Brackens’ cultural heritage and connection to society, including the history of his people in the U.S., the release said.
Additionally, his connection to Bible stories growing up in the south and the survival of climate change in the future; activism by revisioning the past, present, and future is featured.
“Ark of Bulrushes” is Mr. Bracken’s first exhibition — solo or group — in Arizona and the southwest, the release noted, adding that it features all new tapestries and premieres the artist’s first handwoven basket boats.
“We are thrilled to be presenting all new work by the extremely talented and humble artist Diedrick Brackens,” said Ms. O’Connell, SMoCA assistant curator, in a prepared statement.
“Every aspect of the artist’s weavings — color, figures, animals and patterns — layer together meaning that is often rooted in dark histories, but with the intention to find hope wherever it may exist.
The complexity that he achieves is done so by creating rich textiles that offer alternative perspectives and narratives about Black bodies, humanity and survival throughout history and today.”
In this series, the release describes how Mr. Brackens forms visual allegories of emancipation by intertwining symbology from the Underground Railroad and the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, offering a meditation on liberation, the climate crisis and the power of craft.
Colorful and textural landscapes are filled with constellations, rivers, coded patterns, boats and Black figures that are said to create narratives of hope in times of oppression and turbulence.
“Cotton is the primary material because it is a very easy material to manipulate. It takes color beautifully, and its historical significance in the United States relative to enslavement, violence and subjugation that has had lasting effects on Black bodies,” said Mr. Brackens in a prepared statement.
“I think of the process of handweaving cotton as a small way to pay tribute to those who came before me and worked with the material under very different circumstances.”
“‘Ark of Bulrushes’ offers a new way of thinking about navigating world systems in relation to how it has been used in the past to seek emancipation,” said Ms. O’Connell.
“Today, humans are still perusing the freedom of thought and speech, to self-identify and love, and from harm and exploitation. Brackens work is a guide for finding hope in times riddled with fear about the unknown.”
“I have made my mark as an artist for creating figural weavings. This exhibition has really provided me the opportunity to expand my research and the physicality of my work into the realm of sculpture,” said Mr. Brackens in a prepared statement.
“It means so much to have a platform and the support of an institution to continue to push the work and to dream wildly. I am excited to be working with Lauren and SMoCA to bring this new body of work to fruition.”
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is at 7374 E. Second St., according to the release.
For more information on hours and guidelines, see: SMoCA.org; SMoCA.org/reopening-guidlines; or call 480-874-4666.