We Are Your People, Now


Project: ARTspace is pleased to present an exhibition featuring paintings, prints and a video chapbook by artists Kim Sykes, Karen J. Revis, and JoAnne McFarland. All three artists’ work is deeply rooted in the communities and dynamic multi-generational families from which they hail—Sykes originally from New Orleans, Revis from Washington, D.C., and McFarland a native New Yorker. Sykes’ portraits of both herself and other people of color are sensitive and compelling—you know these people too. McFarland is exhibiting two self portraits each with a black doll, her “muse”, combined with poetic elements of nature, domesticity, humor and layered connotations. In Pullman, a projection of McFarland’s latest chapbook, she skillfully weaves history with the angst of the current moment, moving us “like a Pullman porter moving through a train.” While each of the artists reflect upon Black Lives Matter, Revis most directly speaks to the energy and urgency of protest through her prints—a medium long associated with social justice. Here, along with Sykes’ self-portrait, we are lit on fire with the faces of black men set within moving target-like shapes, collaged elements such as bullet-proof vests, and guns and portraits of young men. In talking about her work with curator Leslie Kerby, Revis said she was listening to 70’s music in the studio, particularly Roberta Flack’s Tryn’ Times. “Tryin’ times, yeah, that’s what the world is talkin’ about. You got confusion all over the land.”

We Are Your People, Now is a turn of the phrase “Now, who are your people?” Ella Baker’s pre-eminent question according to Barbara Ransby in her biography of Baker (1903-1986) who she describes as an “important grassroots organizer and perhaps most influential woman in the civil rights movement. Baker’s desire to know and place her visitor was characteristic of what had been important to her throughout her life. The question, ‘Now, who are your people?’ symbolizes Baker’s approach to life-history as well. Who one’s people were was important to Ella Baker, not to establish an elite pedigree, but to locate an individual as a part of a family, community, a region, a culture, and a historical period. Baker recognized that none of us are self-made men or women; rather we forge our identities within kinship networks, local communities and organizations.” *

How these three artists approach their art has a striking synergy with Baker’s words. And Flack who also sings “But maybe folks wouldn’t have to suffer. If there was more love for your brother”, is the message Sykes, Revis and McFarland would like you to take home and share.

Kim Sykes is a painter, actor and the Artistic Director of Girl Be Heard, a nonprofit organization that builds leaders, change makers and activists by developing, amplifying and celebrating the voices of girls and young women through socially conscious theatre-making. Her artwork has appeared on the cover of Bayou Magazine in the September 2016 issue and local shows in NYC. A self taught painter, she works in oil, acrylic and pencil and collage, concentrating on social justice issues, in particular, the Black Lives Matter movement. More about Kim and her work at girlbeheard.org/kim and kimsykes.com

Karen J. Revis is a New York City based artist who is driven by process and materials. She explores mark making using monotypes, lithographs, etchings, linoleum cuts, collagraphs and papermaking. Two of her linocut prints have been selected by Colossal Media to be murals in NYC and L.A. She studied Fine Art at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. She was a recipient of the Robert Blackburn Workshop SIP Fellowship in 2018. She has attended residencies at The Morgan Paper Conservatory, Cleveland, OH; BACAS, Teggiano, Italy; Pyramid Atlantic, Silver Spring, MD; The Women’s Studio Workshop, Rosendale, NY; and Henry Street Settlement, New York, NY. Her work is featured in The Art of Encaustic Painting: Contemporary Expression in the Ancient Medium by Joanne Mattera (Watson-Guptill Publications). Karen is a board member of the Women’s Studio Workshop and a member of BADGuild. Her work can be found at artfare.com/karen-revis and karenjrevis.com

JoAnne McFarland is an artist, poet, curator, and independent publisher. She is the Artistic Director of Artpoetica Project Space in Gowanus that exhibits work exploring the intersection of visual art and literature. She is the former Exhibitions Director of A.I.R. Gallery in DUMBO. She has exhibited her artwork nationally and internationally for over 30 years, and is the author of ten poetry books, chapbooks, and libretti. Her most recent curatorial project, co-curated with Sasha Chavchavadze, is SALLY, a multi-venue, multi-year exhibition that showcases lost histories of women artists and philosophers, and contemporary artists whose work exemplifies passionate inquiry. Her work can be found at joannemcfarland.com

Leslie Kerby is an artist and curator. She works in a variety of media to create thematically interlinked bodies of work. Motivated by social networks at moments of change, she examines shipping containers and medical industries, cemeteries and financial inequality. Represented in collections at Columbia University and Bradbury Art Museum, Arkansas State University, Kerby has received commissions from Norte Maar, BRIC Arts | Media and Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, and awarded residencies at the American Academy in Rome, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, (Virginia and France) and School of Visual Arts. Her work has also appeared at the art fairs Verge, Spring Break and AQUA Miami and has been reviewed in Two Coats of Paint. When she is not exhibiting her own work, Kerby curates exhibitions for New York venues such as Project: ARTspace and BRIC Arts | Media. Her work and curatorial projects can be found at lesliekerby.com



Exhibition Dates

Sep 26 - Nov 20

Contributing Artists