Danny Simmons and other contemporary artists debut new work in a Striver's Garden Gallery exhibit.
By Safiya Farquharson
To Become. To Manifest. To Push Out and Break Through. That is the dream of any artist and a journey Danny Simmons knows very well, as he joins 9 dynamic contemporary artists, who are, quite literally, on the cusp. eMerge is the brainchild of co-curators, Lisa D. Hayes, manager of Strivers Gardens Gallery and Souleo of Souleo Enterprises, LLC. and runs from July 12 through September 7 at the New York City gallery. Meet these innovators as they give you a glimpse into their art, their inspiration and the advice they have for other artist looking for their own opportunity to eMerge.
Strivers Gardens Gallery:
Souleo Enterprises, LLC
(Artist Danny Simmons)
The eMergence: â€œWhen we look at the work that Iâ€™ve done in the 80s and the 90s, and now â€“ it shows how the artwork has changed over time but it has been consistent with the same voice. You have to work at things for a long period of time for your work to have meaning.â€
The Inspiration: â€œItâ€™s about spirituality. All of the work is about searching for your inner self and your connection with a higher power or something bigger than yourself.â€
The Advice: â€œDonâ€™t wait for other people to validate who you are. I really believe that we really need to be more self sufficient as artist and create our own opportunities instead of looking for opportunities outside of ourselves. Any 4 walls, an invite and a bottle of wine â€“ and you have an art show.â€
(Danny Simmons, Barkcloth, 2011. Oil and pigment on canvas, 22 x 36 in.)
The eMergence: As a seasoned artist, I have my experiences in both the fine art and commercial art world and I am opening my mind and asking for directions that will allow for others to be of benefit from this. I seek, through creativity, to enjoy time spent while I discover it’s hidden qualities â€“ to heal my self with hopes to heal others
The Inspiration: “This Everlasting Moment” was not an overnight build up. I was in my mind for a very love time before I wrapped it up and signed it. Gustav Klimt is one of my favorite artists. His paintings display very dreamy and colorful art with emotion and serenity found in few artists. I was also in a state of using found objects to display my art and in the old building where my studio was, I had lots of fun and interesting stuff to play with.
The Advice: It takes a willing heart to start anything when it comes to creating. Meditate daily so that you can clear your path with receiving instructions. Once you made the choice to discover the new directions, then things will happen. After you’ve removed any blocks, then all doubts demolished.
(Al Johnson This Everlasting Moment 2012 Mixed media on panel with found objects in Antique box 14.5 x 32 x 2.5 in)
The eMergence: The only thing thatâ€™s really new out there is technology. So what we do as artist is use what we have to make contemporary work â€“using different materials to make it new and make it fresh. I use buttons, and everyday materials that we take for granted but Iâ€™ve developed it with a unique technique to make it interesting.
The Inspiration Inspiration: When Iâ€™m approaching pieces, sometimes I start out with a theme and fingers take me in different directions. This is my debut piece. I didnâ€™t know where I was going. I started out with crowns that were inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King. I was also inspired by W.E.B Dubois and his idea of double consciousness. I did a double flag, with the Pan African flag over the American flag, to let people be aware that weâ€™re still fighting for our freedom in this country.
The Advice: Stay true and passionate to yourself. Stay focused. The world we live in is the technology age so there are a lot of things to distract you from your focus.
(Beau McCall, Until Weâ€™re Free, 2012. Buttons, glow in the dark thread, denim, Plexiglas and burlap, 40 x 40 in)
Shirley Nette Williams
The eMergence : My work is a culmination of issues or ideas that I’ve been mulling, combined with the desire to use materials that tell their own story. It just so happens that in making ‘A Nice cup of Tears’ I have made four tiny portraits, stitched into used teabags…I’d say that was pretty unique contribution to the art world.
The Inspiration: I’ve been thinking about issues relating to ageing, personal image and friendship for a while now. When I was asked to take part in eMerge I knew that I wanted to portray women. The deaths of Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse highlighted the tragic endings many well-known female singers endure. I wanted to comment on that and also ask where were their friends when things became tough?
The Advice : Take every opportunity to show people your work. If I hadn’t started a conversation with Souleo and shown him my work when he was in London on a trip last year I would not be exhibiting in New York this July.
(Shirley Nette Williams, A Nice Cup of Tears (Series) Whitney Houston, 2012. Mixed media teabag, thread, saucer, fabric, 28.5 x 28.5 in)
The eMergence : The nature of the materials I use and my techniques stretches the idea of art. When I tell people that I am a quilter most immediately think of their grandmothers handy work. Though my work has it’s roots in this craft form I and others have taken this style of working to new heights.
The inspiration :
Hip Hop as a cultural entity now is decades old and continues to evolve. My piece “Old School Hip Hop” salutes the musical art form and a Harlemite, Curtis Blow, an iconic force in the growth of Rap music from a local cultural craft to a mega business entity. I am of the Age of Hip Hop and can remember its modest beginnings. It is the Jazz Era of my time.
The Advice :
We are living in technological age where information is at our fingertips. Quickly researching an idea or technique no longer requires a trip to the library. Reaching the masses to promote your work can be done from home. Materials to work with can arrive at your door within a week. Artist: Use all of these tools to the fullest.
On the tragic day that my brother, Glenn “Spoof” Wright was murdered we had made plans for him to photograph an event for a client of mine. I was looking forward to that evening when I would get to see my younger sibling on one of his first professional bookings. For us both it represented the beginning of his exploration into a career as a visual artist. Sadly, because of a case of mistaken identity gang members took his life away. Yet, what they can never take away is his art, spirit and legacy. Glenn’s artwork from photography to sketches to wearable art was representative of his introspective nature, vivid imagination and mission to promote healing, positivity and love in the world. His mission dripped off the canvas and flowed into his everyday life with his contributions to the community as a mentor to youth in non-profit organizations, volunteer activist for local politicians and co-founder of the House of Spoof. The latter is a collective of young artists who like my brother are emerging and on the cusp of greatness. Unfortunately, due to his death Glenn cannot speak for his works, but through the power of their imagery they speak for themselves. Spoof, you’ve finally arrived.
The House of Spoof Collective
(Glenn Wright (House of Spoof), A Day in the Life of Down Syndrome (series), 2008-2009. Photography.)
The eMergence Every step I take in creation is a step closer to a new vision that I haven’t fully imagined yet. Art always holds the power to push people towards a new reality. That is part an artist’s job â€“ to contribute something to the world and once they experience it, their perspective has been altered. Through the eyes, you can open mind.
The Inspiration Both these subjects, Jay-Z and Jimi, are pioneers in many ways and that spirit is what has inspired me. Despite breaking the mold and dealing with ridicule/obstacles, they remained grounded in their expression. It takes bold souls like these two subjects to keep pushing the envelope and inspiring the masses. I am one of those inspired individuals in the crowd.
The Advice: It’s not only about having people that like your work. Itâ€™s really about making your work accessible for them to share it. The digital world is my best friend and it allows me to showcase my work to friends, fans, and even strangers across the globe.
(Andre Woolery Jimi Hendrix Electric Feel 2011 over 3,000 thumbtacks and oil paint 26 x 48 in)
Jason E. Auguste
The eMergence : Itâ€™s about pushing myself forward and itâ€™s about interactivity. The topic of this piece is Basquiat, so they delve into his life by using the technology that we have available in the world around us. You look at the piece, you see something and then it takes you other places, whether it be music, video, stills, or information about Basquiat himself. So itâ€™s really taking the viewer and turning them into a participant in the art and in the life.
The Inspiration: Itâ€™s always the most high, creator of all creations. And then I get inspiration from pushing myself. I thought of Basquiat and his time and what he would comment on and what he would do. And then I transported myself into this time and what I would do or comment on and the biggest thing I noticed was the technology.
The Advice Donâ€™t listen to anybody. Listen to your soul and yourself. Get that inspiration from within. Itâ€™s all a growing process so plant that seed in the soil and tend to the garden.