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Ki Smith Gallery is thrilled to present Clayjà Vu, a two person exhibition featuring artists Sasha Feldman and William J. O'Brien. Clayjà Vu is an exploration of memory, pre-adolescent innocence and friendship, articulated through a collection of both figurative and abstract ceramic sculptures. Sasha and O'Brien's works lie at the intersection of fiction, fantasy, sci-fi and punk, with certain works in a language punctuated by a playfulness found in the land of misfit toys, and other works in a futuristic dialect referencing a formality and hypnotic curiosity found in antiquities. Both artists have been deeply immersed in the medium for over a decade and share an unparalleled dedication, appreciation and devotion towards ceramics while still holding on to a playfulness and rebelliousness that can often be lost to the technical processes of the medium. Through experimental glazes, freedom from traditional form and a fearless appetite to explore both Sasha and O'Brien push the boundaries of the medium into a place that references the familiar while simultaneously breaking it down, giving you a feeling of having already dreamed something that is currently being experienced.


Clayjà Vu is also a story of friendship, inspiration, persistence and reuniting. In 2009 Sasha Feldman walked into a ceramic elective at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago that then rookie professor William J. O'Brien was teaching. An immediate kinship was formed that ended up pushing Sasha to major in ceramics. Despite the medium not being nearly as popular as it has now become, both artist's were dedicated to their practices and have separately reached some of the highest achievements possible in their field. O'Brien became the chair of the ceramic department at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago as well as building a long exhibition history internationally while also mentoring artists. Sasha established a ceramic studio in Manhattan as well as built a robust national and international showing history. Now over a decade after first meeting Sasha and O'Brien are linking back up to pay homage to their friendship, dedication and parallel visions.

Violet Marrow
Ambrose Rhapsody Murray - Shabez Jamal

Cereus Art is honored to present Violet Marrow, an exhibition of works created in the past year by Ambrose Rhapsody Murray and Shabez Jamal. Exploring a variety of materials, such as cement, silks, salt rocks and collage, the artists juxtapose images from their own family archives with those from the past and present– self portraiture and archival imagery– to create sculptural photographic objects that collapse temporalities and redefine memory and history as extant and irrevocably intertwined with the present.

The works presented in Violet Marrow pay reverence to Black matriarchal practices of archiving family photography as a tool against erasure, while breaking past its traditional heteronormative limitations and temporal confinements. Coupling the self portraits and archival images with those in the family album highlights stories invisible in the broader historical narrative, as well as the ancestral records created by Black matriarchs. And yet, as these works reveal, that which is unseen is and has always been an integral part of our personal and collective lineages. For both artists, ultraviolet light serves as a primary method of unveiling that which is sensed and ever present even when invisible on the surface.

Building on an exploration of archival imagery already core to their creative practice, Murray’s new works express a deeper personal and spiritual connection by intertwining photographs of their familial matriarchs with images of 20th century photographs of Black women and girls. In their fabric works, cyanotypes harness ultraviolet light to transfer the images onto gossamer silks, freeing the images’ figures from their original contexts. Their contemporaneous, sculptural presence spilling into our shared three dimensional space emphasizes collective vestiges of white supremacy on Black femmes as ever present. Murray hangs, layers, and drapes these compositions, on the wall and over supportive structures, creating a sense of ethereal grace and fluidity. Juxtaposed against salt rock sculptures revealing fragmented femme figures, Murray constructs a collaborative environment for healing, dissolving the temporal and spatial distinctions between the historical and the personal as well as the viewer and object.

In a process he calls ‘queering’ the family archive, Jamal weaves his self portraiture practice with images sourced from his grandmothers’ family photo albums to create collages and photographic objects that insert his own queer existence into his documented ancestral history. Crucial to the work are markings that denote passage of time, such as fraying edges and discoloration that comes from years of ultraviolet light exposure. Highlighting the materiality and entropy of the photograph and his sculptural materials, Jamal determinantly interlaces the past with the present to chronologically collapse narratives and recontextualize histories as concurrent. Though not present in his grandmothers’ records, Jamal asserts how queer narratives have always existed within this archive.

The movement of an image/sculpture emerging can be additive or reductive; so too is the action of remembering. In the process of discovery, new life, creation, comes forward. The force of ultraviolet, that which feeds our world, here acts as an evocation of those who came before us– bringing into light that which is omnipresent and always at work, even when its contours remain invisible.

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