Concord Journal: Empowering Voices

The Lucy Lacoste Gallery announced the upcoming group exhibition, “Empowering Voices,” from Sept. 12 to Oct. 10. The exhibition will also be available online.

This exhibition brings together artists of color, four of whom are represented by LLG and an additional four young, underrepresented artists, each invited by a represented artist. This exhibition is in response to the racial injustices that, while always present, have been brought to wider awareness by the protests after George Floyd’s murder.

Represented artists include Natalia Arbelaez, Ashwini Bhat, Paul S. Briggs and Renata Cassiano-Alvarez. Invited artists include Gerald Brown, Aaron Caldwell, Sydnie Jimenez and Anthony Kascak.

Arbelaez is a Columbian American artist, born in Miami to immigrant parents. Her work speaks to her personal narrative of her Columbian family’s immigration, the pre-Columbian presence in South American and her own story of her “American latchkey, after-school cartoon upbringing.”

Arbelaez received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Florida International University and Master of Fine Arts from Ohio State University. Her work has been exhibited nationally at museums and galleries and is included in various collections such as the Everson Museum and the Frederick Meijer Gardens. She was the 2018-19 resident artist at Harvard University where she researched pre-Columbian art and history. She was Artist in Residence at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City where she continued her research in the work of historical and influential women ceramicists of color.

Bhat is an international artist from India drawn to abstract themes such as the relatedness of humans, regardless of race. Her new sculptures reveal the focus on the alliance of inscapes and landscapes. Bhat earned a master’s degree in literature from Bangalore University. She studied classical dance and traveled internationally as a professional dancer. She studied ceramics with Ray Meeker at Golden Bridge Potter. Since 2015 she has lived in the U.S., currently in Petaluma, California. Bhat has collaborated with other artists and writers, including Sharbani Das Gupta, Debra Smith and Forrest Gander.

Briggs states that working with issues relating to suffering is not his preferred subject matter. Yet for the last few years, his usual practice has been disturbed by social conditions and the world waking up to this history. The present work, the “Knot Vessels,” deals with hardships and strength by refuting the vessel.

“To be doubled up inside, tied in knots, feeling tight all over, is how many describe the everyday tension of existence in a society seized by pandemic and strivings to wake up from history and create a more just and loving society,” said Briggs.

Briggs, originally from New York state, earned a Master of Fine Arts from Mass College of Art; an Master of Science Education from Alfred University; and a PhD in Art Education from Penn State. He is currently artist in residence at the Harvard Ceramics Program and an associate professor of art education at Mass Art.

Cassiano-Alvarez says she is fascinated by that which we cannot understand. Her current body of work focuses on the transformation of the historical role ceramic materials have in the ceramic process. At the center she is teaching ceramic glaze a new language. Cassiano-Alvarez was born in Mexico and earned her Master of Fine Arts at University of Mexico. She has been the assistant to two international artists: Nina Hole of Denmark from 2007-16 and Gustavo Perez from Mexico, 2010-13. She is currently an artist in residence and teaching at the University of Arkansas.

The works presented by Brown, sacred objects, are a series of hand built, terracotta sculptures built to provide a spiritual function of demarcating “space for ancestral as well as descendants of Strange Fruit, an expansive lineage of African Diasporic people in America.”

Through the creation of these abstract representations of “Strange Fruit,” she seeks to create moments for reflection of the past and guidance for the future in the face of violence. Clay is an important choice of medium, chosen for its ability to record movement and memory, with each piece being carefully crafted providing a “diligent approach to constructing ideals about Blackness.”

Brown is a Chicago Southside native and she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in sculpture and ceramics from Syracuse University. She currently resides in Philadelphia and is a member of the art collective Vox Populi, a teaching artist assistant with The Clay Studio’s Clay Mobile outreach program, a member of the board of directors at Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts, and co-founder of the Clay Siblings’ Project, a nonprofit initiative providing free ceramic workshops around the country.

Caldwell’s work is inspired by the history of moisturizing products for skin and hair within the Black community. His artwork is presented in “zoomorphic forms inspired by folktales and west and central African sculpture.”

Through the creation of these zoomorphic objects, he highlights this unique aspect of Black culture and narrates how his experiences of Blackness and queerness shape his inner and outer worlds.

Caldwell was born and raised in Fresno, California. He graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in general studio art. He is currently in the Art Education graduate program at Illinois State University. He was recently awarded the 2019 NCECA Multicultural Fellowship award, 2019-20 Northern Clay Center Warren MacKenzie Advancement Award and showcasing a piece from his undergraduate body of work at the 2020 NCECA student show.

Jimenez created figures during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the protests by black and brown youth that were sparked by police brutality and the murder of black people by police. “These figures are referencing protestors, protest and a feeling of discontent, disorientation and unease left in the wake of these deaths whose murderers were not brought to justice,” said Jimenez.

Jimenez attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Kascak’s work combines the mediums of ceramics and photography through the detailed incorporation of photographic decals, glazed fingerprints and shards of ceramics. Through this melding of mediums, he intends to “highlight the fragility of the ceramic process and specific details of photographs.”

These works seek to “orient the viewer to consider their perception, as well as the extent in which distance, intimacy and vulnerability fluctuate inside these slippery psychological spaces.”

Kascak received his Master of Fine Arts in studio art at the University of Arkansas School of Art, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in art practices as well as a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has attended residencies and exhibited in the U.S. and abroad, in locations such as Germany, China and South Korea.

“We are very pleased to present this relevant exhibition and to be part of the changing face of Concord and the world,” said Lucy Lacoste.

The public is invited to the opening reception for the artists from 2-5 p.m. Sept. 12. There will be an Artist Talk available online and details will be announced at a later date.

For information, contact or 978-369-0278.

Back To Top