These artists often talk of taking the harsh elements of Los Angeles –the metal – bending, shaping and sculpting it into art that is magical and full of possibility. Placing these allegoric images in public spaces expands the discourse of accessibility, flexibility and metamorphosis. Using this metaphor, art becomes the site of community engagement, which is the thematic subtext of all of jill's curatorial work.
The images featured in HEAVY METAL are smaller in scale than the artists’ public works, but contain all the power and significance of their larger pieces. Each artist has had commissioned works in Los Angeles, where they grew up or received their formal training, and across country as their work has gained national and international recognition.
There exists a durability of both material and meaning that transcends Los Angeles and speaks directly to African American experiences throughout the world. The beauty of that understanding and awareness is inherent, not in the medium, but in the intentions of the artists. The heavy metal abstractions become a signifier of the tenacity of African American identity.
Joseph Beckles was born in Jamaica, received his art training at Brooklyn College, but spent most of his life in Los Angeles. He was an artist and a curator whose commissioned works can be seen in Los Angeles County.
Charles Dickson’s public works can be seen throughout Los Angeles, and the outdoor installation at the California African American Museum. His work is also in the notable collections including those of Stevie Wonder and Mohammad Ali.
Melvin Edwards is a metal artist who received his MFA at USC. He has had solo exhibitions at the Whitney and LACMA, and has participated in group shows around the world. Edwards' work is also in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA and the Houston Museum of Art. A Guggenheim and Fulbrtight fellow, his public installations can be found throughout the United States, including the most recent exhibition Blues for Smoke: February 27 - April 28, 2013, Whitney Museum of American Art.
Maren Hassinger holds an MFA from UCLA. She has public works in Chicago, Baltimore, throughout California and New York. Currently, she is the Director of the Rinehart School of Graduate Sculpture, Maryland Institute, College of Art, in Baltimore. Her work is in Portland Museum of Art, Studio Museum Harlem, San Francisco MoMA, and the California African American Museum.
John Outterbridge is a seminal figure in the Los Angeles Assemblage movement. His work with metal is typically large scale and minimalist, allowing the medium to resonate with cultural meaning. He was the first director of the Watts Towers Art Center where he mentored many artists including Betye Saar and David Hammons. Outterbridge’s public work is well known and is also included in premiere private collections and museums around the world.
Outterbridge's recent museum exhibitions include:
Blues for Smoke: February 27 - April 28, 2013, Whitney Museum of American Art.
Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980, Hammer Museum, P.S. 1 MoMA, New York and Basel.
L.A. Raw: Abject Expressionism in Los Angeles, 1945-1980, From Rico Lebrun to Paul McCarthy, Pasadena Museum of California Art.
Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974-1981, MOCA, Los Angeles, California.
Civic Virtue: The Impact of the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery and the Watts Towers Arts Center, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery and Watts Towes Arts Center, Los Angeles, California.
2009 Gallery 32 and Its Circle, Leband Art Gallery, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California.
30 Seconds off an Inch, The Studio Museum in Harlem.
Los Angeles 1955 – 1985: Birth of an Art Capital, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France in 2006.
About jill moniz:
jill moniz earned her doctorate in cultural anthropology from Indiana University. She worked at the Peter the Great Museum of Ethnology in St. Petersburg, Russia where under the museum director, Dr. Nikolai Girenko, who was later murdered by members of the Russian Neo-Nazi movement for his tireless advocacy for social justice against a rising tide of xenophobia in post Soviet Russia.
In the United States, Jill worked as a research associate and special collections archivist for the Black Film Center/archive at IU and as a sociology professor at Rosemont College in Pennsylvania, before returning to the arts to conceptualize a contemporary art museum in Indianapolis. In 2005 she began working on community engagement programs at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California. In 2006, she became Head Curator at the California African American Museum in Exposition Park in Los Angeles. From 2009-2012, she was curator for the Dr. and Mrs. Leon O. Banks Collection of Contemporary Art. Today she leads TRANSFORMATIVE ARTS initiatives around Los Angeles.