Americana Part II at Susan Eley Fine Art

by | Aug 24, 2020 | Blog post

Susan Eley Fine Art is pleased to present ‘AMERICANA Part II’, the second part of a two part online exhibition series. The three-person group exhibition of contemporary Black artists features Marcus Jansen, Barry Johnson and A’Driane Nieves. It is curated by Emily Miraglia and runs through September 4th.

AMERICANA Part I, which featured work by Charles Buckley, Rachel Burgess, James Isherwood and Maria Passarotti, focused mainly on an idealized definition of the word. The word and the ideas around it possess a certain, je ne sais quoi, a kind of ‘I’ll know it when I see it.’ In short, the word encompasses physical items, collective memories, intangible values/mantras and of course, the American Dream. AMERICANA deals with themes of nostalgia and longing, tradition and the complicated history of the country we call home. But for whom and of what? It would be remiss to ignore the fact that Americana means very certain things for a small group of people (read: white and/or privileged). The work selected for Part II tells very different stories. To be clear: neither definition is wrong, and both have existed simultaneously but when we ignore the lived experiences of whole groups of people, we have a serious problem. The aim of this show is to amplify and uplift these voices that too often go
unheard. We invite everyone to reconsider the word ‘Americana’ and its colloquial definition and ideals, and to consider the words of Martin Luther King Jr. below as he writes about an America “torn between [two] selves.”

This afternoon I would like to speak from the subject, “The Negro and the American Dream.” In a real sense America is essentially a dream–a dream yet unfulfilled. It is the dream of a land where men of all races, colors and creeds will live together as brothers. The substance of the dream is expressed in these sublime words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This is the dream. It is a profound, eloquent and unequivocal expression of the dignity and worth of all human personality.

But ever since the founding fathers of our nation dreamed this dream, America has manifested a schizophrenic personality. She has been torn between {two} selves–a self in which she has proudly professed democracy and a self in which she has sadly practiced the antithesis of democracy. Slavery and segregation have been strange paradoxes in a nation founded on the principle that all men are created equal.
— Martin Luther King Jr. 

For more information on the exhibition please visit
The above image is Barry Johnson – Untitled 108 2018.