Since 1985, less a hiatus from 2007-2016, Atlanta Contemporary has hosted a biennial exhibition featuring some of the best emerging artists from around the region. 2021 is a biennial year for Atlanta Contemporary and in spite of COVID-19, masks and the show must go on. Not known for it’s diversity, this year’s biennial includes some of the most exciting Black emerging artists in our midsts. Below are just a few of the nearly 30 artists that are included in this year’s show, “Of Care and Destruction.” I encourage you to check it out opening February 20 and running through August 1, 2021.
Yanique Norman was born in Spanish Town, Jamaica and now lives just outside of Atlanta in Stonecrest. Her Last Lady series challenges American nationalism and patriotism in a unique way. By collaging mugshots of Black women over the faces of former First Ladies, Norman questions who gets to be first versus who is in fact last in America’s cultural hierarchy. Yanique was a recipient of the 2020 Atlanta Artadia Award.
If you’ve been to Umi Sushi in Buckhead, Atlanta this summer, you may have sat next to one of Shanequa Gay’s mythical figures disguised as a guest. Her signature animal heads represent her exploration of mythology and the idea of creating new mythology that incorporates the unique experience of being black in America. Here Shanequa describes her practice and the message in her work.
L. Kasimu Harris is a New Orleans based photographer and writer who works to tell stories of underrepresented communities. His series on the vanishing black bar community in New Orleans was published in The New York Times Magazine in 2020. The series of photographs capture the significance of black bars as not only gathering places but also keepers of community history threatened to be lost due to gentrification.
The Atlanta Bienniel is comprised of two exhibitions, the primary show curated by Dr. Jordan Amirkhani, and a secondary show, “Virtual Remains,” curated by T.K. Smith. TK Smith is a writer, researcher, and curator. He currently serves as a Tina Dunkley Curatorial Fellow in American Art at the Clark Atlanta University Art Museum.
One of the artists in Smith’s exhibition is Artemus Jenkins. Jenkins is a photographer and filmmaker. Below is a link to his film, “Antithesis,” a contemplative series of images set to music.